I’m at home in Austin packing for my summer at Glimmerglass: tomorrow is travel day, and I can’t wait to start posting about our Ariadne adventure! In the meantime, it’s Father’s Day Weekend, and opera provides endless examples of dads for your Slow Listening pleasure. I’ve narrowed it down to a few favorite outpourings of fatherly love. As always, share the Slow – pass these on to someone who hasn’t heard them, add a few words of your own.
From the land of Heilige Kunst comes Wotan, king of the gods, father of the warrior maiden Brünnhilde (she of “so wovewy” Warner Bros. fame), and singer of this grieving, loving Farewell. In the opera Die Walküre by Richard Wagner, Wotan’s putting Brunni to sleep on a giant rock surrounded by fire, but sshhhh…that’s not important now. It’s a moment between father and daughter that is at once an irreversible parting and a tender reconciliation, and impossible miracle, the kind of thing that can only happen in real life. And so it can be expressed in great music. The singer and conductor here are James Morris and James Levine, treasured colleagues of mine, and I will always count myself lucky to have assisted them both in performances of this piece.
A recent wonderful discovery for me was Rudolf Asmus, a Czech bass-baritone who defected to Germany in the early sixties. Here he’s singing the Forester’s monologue from Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Even if you listen to a lot of classical music, you may well never have heard the Czech language before. Hang out with it for a bit. Janacek sets his native language so conversationally, with such ease. This character is a man at the end of his life, someone who has cared for the forest he lives in. Like any father, he has been loving, fair, careless, selfish, all of these things, and here at the end he embraces the whole experience of his life.
Is there a dad you know, or someone with a dad, who might like to slow down and listen?