I have a recurrence of the epic viral infection that my doctor warned me would reoccur on and off for years – that was over ten years ago so epic is the word for this annoying condition which goes painfully for my muscles and gradually moves around my body. When it hits me there is nothing for it but to look for an epic cure. The secret, I found, lies in the music of Richard Wagner especially in his and opera’s, most epic work, the giant fifteen hour cycle of four music dramas, the Ring.
It so happens that in my own epic journey through the history of music, I have reached the year 1875 when Wagner finished the last of the four operas in the Ring cycle, Götterdammerung so it was obvious that now was the time for me to wallow in the magnificence of this music.
I am also taking Ibuprofen tablets and was reminded of the impressively epic bottle of the drugs that I brought back with the from the USA last year. An epic journey for 500 tablets to a country that doesn’t allow you to buy large quantities of pharmaceutical drugs over the counter in case you want to commit suicide.
So there you have it – my cure is Iboprofen and Brunnhilde – especially if the singer is the great and probably irreplaceable Birgit Nilsson whom I was lucky enough to hear in this music in her farewell performance in 1984 at the Royal Albert Hall, London. An epic voice if there ever was one – huge, perfectly in tune and glorious right through its range to those glorious top C’s. Luckily she recorded several versions of her performance so I advise you to listen.
Just for now though, here is a short clip showing that she could still sing the famous Brunnhilde battle cry at the age of 78 when she briefly came out of vocal retirement in tribute to the conductor James Levine.
For now though, you need pictures, so I will leave you with the excellent Anne Evans as Brunnhilde as she brings the opera to its overwhelming conclusion by leaping onto her husband’s, Siegfried’s, funeral pyre and by doing so, saves the World by the power of her love. The great melody that closes the work, up there on the violins, is one of music’s most sublime moments – well worth the fifteen hour wait, believe me…I have been waiting since I began this music project twelve years ago and I am not disappointed.
OK then, you lovers of the epic, here is Nilsson’s Brunnhilde in a Bayreuth production conducted by Rudolph Kempe in 1960: