Monday, July 29, 2013


We travel by train a lot and the romance still holds a little although that horrific disaster in Spain has rekindled the thoughts you often have flying through France at 300km/hr that there is not much room for error and a lot of trust involved. But then our greatest danger is probably some wing-nut on the freeway down here.

Getting from Milan to Munich seemed a straightforward ask, but it was a bit of a fiddle and all thanks to Deutsche Bahn not the least for incredibly (welcome-to-europe or something) cheap fares.

From Milan

 on this sparkly number

we changed at Verona (and up the Brenner Pass through Innsbruck) for Munich. Not quite so glam but inside was nicely old fashioned and we shared a comfortable compartment with a German couple heading home after what sounded like a rather grand 60th birthday bash in Verona.

The clouds sat low, and light rain was falling, smudging the dirty windows. It was only when I uploaded some snaps of the autobahn and found one that was reasonably interesting

that I saw the face at the window.


wanderer said...

Oh no, I've done it again and deleted your comment David. Profuse apologies. David asked about the face (was it K) and noted the culture shocks that trips like Budapest to Vienna by train provide.

I replied (and managed to delete his at the same time):

Likewise David - a trip from Budapest to Berlin a few years ago was especially revealing but nothing compares with Helsinki to St Petergurgh for a gradual time warp as you move west to east.

The thing with the face was that I didn't seen it at the time, nor on the i-phone, not when uploaded, but only after revisiting the page and expanding a few snaps. And that it doesn't look like K, although it is (distorted by reflection and rain) made it a bit spooky.

I always remember the first time I read Wuthering Heights when ghosts at windows appear.

Susan Scheid said...

I so wish we had a better train system here. Your post makes me nostalgic for something I've never had--no mean trick! PS: Did you see any of the reviews of the latest Ring in Bayreuth? Seems to make a pretty strong argument to clean the slate and start off with a concert version like the one David has described. I know, I know, gesamtkunstwerk is what is to be strived for, yet I get this impression that many production impresarios have wholly abandoned supporting the music in favor of bizarre spectacle--not to mention the tragic case of Martha White. But I'm a novice, so what do I know?

wanderer said...

Hi Susan. It's really horse for courses isn't it? We did some flights when time became an issue (Barcelona - Amsterdam), train when time permitted (Amsterdam - Berlin) and train when flying meant at least one hub change (Milan- Munich), and yet we do like the car thing too - and had some fun thrill seeking on the autobahn again this trip.

Yes, I've been following the BT Ring, and have some friends (Australian and German) there so I've been getting first hand reports and some photos. It doesn't sound too good, although the musical values from the pit have been superb under Petrenko.

My most valued 'reporter' (German woman from Nürnberg) says (Just in this morning): "The production is a lot of nonsense. The important messages are not coming. [ ] This ring shows the end of each Metaphysik. Perplexity, emptiness, degeneracy characterize our culture. The Wagner-caring in Bayreuth can't be a Punch-and-Judy theatre. Perhaps the Ring at the Scala was the same problem. [ ] Krill Petrenkos conducting outstanding. A completely diff sound to Thielemann"

My thoughts are that these producers don't know or understand or trust the music. It's not necessarily their fault, although they do 'take it on'. Castorf (Bayreuth) had little more than a year (he took over when Lars von Trier pulled out) and it just isn't enough time (ipso facto) to grasp the 'messages' and so it ends up superficial and effects, but no cause.

The producer (Neil Armfield) of the Ring down here (Melbourne) at the end of the year is the one I really trust with this and the reason we'll be there. It sounds like it will be a bit of an eco Ring (planetary degradation by abuse), already getting a bit clichéd (Munich/Cologne) maybe, but if anyone can keep it relevant to everyman and present the big picture, he can. Fingers crossed.

Martha White you will have to give me more of a lead - sorry.

Hope your break is wonderful.

David said...

Ironically not having enough time, finding it too 'big', was why the fascinating Lars pulled out. I would have made every effort to go back and see his vision, as I haven't wanted to do with any others since sharing the Kupfer experience back in 1990.

The Albert Hall has been working its magic on me again, much as I hate so many things about it. And I think it absolutely has been the Wagnerian centre of the universe these last few weeks. You couldn't find better casts, you couldn't find a more dedicated interpreter than Barenboim - though Runnicles last night in Tannhauser struck me as more authentically fluid with the longer vision and the rubato. His is a Ring I'd like to hear; but whose, direction wise, would I want to see? Since Richard Jones has done it one and a half times, I can't think of anyone else. Peter Haneke?

wanderer said...

Michael Haneke? I don't know. It takes so long, and those with the understanding of the enormity of it (Lars indeed) have the wisdom to defer.

The FT review you have probably already seen, and the telling word for me in there is 'infantile'. Kaaabooom.

The fabulously intellectual Herheim surely will take it on one day and there will be a stampede. His stage craft is phenomenal, complex and multilayered but always to elucidate not intervene.

Susan Scheid said...

It would help if I had got the name right. It's Wendy White. The story ishere, if I've got the hyperlink right, and it now seems her injury is permanent. Of course, we can't know the truth from news articles, but, while I don't have much of a mother hen in me, I don't like to see the singers put through this sort of thing. I remember, though perhaps not accurately, that you wrote Terfel had bowed out of LePage's Ring because of the sets, and I'm also almost sure I saw Morris fall between LePage's planks at one point. I remember, too, something you once wrote about a fantastic lighting design group: a demonstration that so much can be done with such spare elegance. At the same time, thinking on both yours and David's comments, it's certainly the case that, were someone to come along who really understood the music and had the imagination to express it in a full-throttle production design, that would be a wonder to experience. But truly, I am a novice, so my perspective is sorely limited, to say the least.

wanderer said...

She's suing !

Speaking purely generically, Workers Compensation is a really complex area (you the lawyer, you know) and complicated by all difficulties involved in the reality that the greater the deficit the greater the settlement - that is a disincentive to resume employment if ever there was one.

My fear is that we are living in the age of attention deficit (and Ameircan television - the endless pointless moving backgrounds multi-screening stars and bloody stripes, don't start me) and that the impact and potency of simplicity is gone forever.

The big stars maybe have the clout to say - no, I'm not doing that, or climbing there etc - but the Wendys rely on management to be their protectors, not. You should have seen Siegfried and Mime clambering up and down up and down a steel staircase in Milan, something to do with 'levels', and 'superiority', but if not downright dangerous, downright silly.

David said...

Your second paragraph there has absolutely nailed it - maybe I should extract and pin above the desk.

Even so, simplicity will come back again, as all things move in circles. We have already reached the limits of what can be done with video projection, and it's now so refreshing to see a production that doesn't use it (like Jones's Gloriana). When it works, though, as in Simon McBurney's production of A Dog's Heart, there's nothing like it.

Susan Scheid said...

wanderer: I just received notification that the pianist Jeremy Denk started a 2-week tour with the ACO in Australia today, and he will be appearing in Sydney. He's wonderful. Info is here.

wanderer said...

Great tip-off thanks and I've booked for next week in Sydney. It's pretty helter-skelter down here at the moment, but it dove-tails well.

Susan Scheid said...

Fantastic re Denk! I hope you'll be able to report back (though not a requirement, please know)! I promise you I won't keep pummeling you with Sydney events, but feel duty-bound to let you know about the John Adams premiere coming up next week:here. Sydney is clearly the "happening" place right now--how I wish I could be there! Fond regards, as always, Sue.

wanderer said...

And if you were here you'd be having a good time indeed. The late winter weather has been glorious, there have been some great shows about which I hope to make note, and we'd be your very best hosts and guides. I am going to the Adams this coming Friday as part of my subscription series. I see your post on it, and will be over there shortly ...