Yeah, speaking of things that need re-working, this Wagner thing could have used some editing. I won’t hash over all the details, but at the end of act II of Götterdämmerung (“The Twilight of the Gods”)there’s a part where Brünnhilde, Hagen and Gunther are planning to eliminate Siegfried. You’d think you could show them deciding on this in a minute or two, but they just go on and on repeating the how and why of it over and over again! The acting and singing is marvelous, but gotterdammerung, we heard you the first hundred times!
I think I understand why it’s like this, mind you. Wagner’s operas were written for live audiences sitting in fancy clothes in uncomfortable seats, not television viewers, as there was no such thing as television. The opera seems to be five hours long, and though there are periodic intermissions, I think they needed to give audience members a chance to get up now and again. You could go out for a stroll, come back, and you haven’t missed any new developments. This was probably necessary for the 19th-century opera-goer.
But I am a 21st-century television viewer. I can sit and watch TV for hours, as long as something new is happening fairly frequently. This was roughly five-hours long and I wasn’t even terribly interested in the outcome, and yet I still watched it. So it can be done.
My take on this whole production is that the stage was cool, the actors/singers were all excellent–but the thing was just too long and repetitive for television. They should have gone ahead and done the live performance, and then used the same cast and filmed a miniseries for PBS to show instead. Maybe that’s too much strain on the singers, though, I don’t know.