Friday, September 4, 2015

Evanston: Richard Wagner and Pablo Escobar; res ipso loquitur

        I had two goals for this my last full week in the flatlands for a while:  watch GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, thus completing Wagner’s Ring, and watch the first season of the new Netflix series, Narcos, based on the life of the late Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug king who was reportedly at one time the wealthiest criminal in history.  I finished GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG this morning and will watch the tenth and last episode in what will presumably be season one of Narcos this evening with Carol.
        I came to opera late and my opinion is of little value, but I enjoyed The Ring, not every minute of its fifteen hours, but mostly.  It is an immense work, not just in length, but an immense act of creativity.  The music is at times grand and others sublime.  There is lots of sex, mostly illicit, incest, bigamy—if unintentional, promiscuity among men and gods, and the stated belief that marriage without love has no value, this long before divorce become common.  For singers some of the roles must be the Cape Horns of their careers.
        I think that watching DVDs of performances of the four operas has some advantages over seeing them live.  If one did on four successive days, The Ring would certainly dominate life for that period, as I expect Wagner intended.  One would want a very comfortable chair.
        With DVDs I was able to pause when I wished to check the libretto or have lunch or climb a few flights of stairs when my watch told me to get up.  Also the camera could pan in for close ups of faces and details that couldn’t be seen from the audience except perhaps with opera glasses.
        The Centenary Boulez/Chereau production I watched was controversial in 1976 and, though less so now, still disliked by many.
        In time I may buy another Ring production; and I will listen to the famed Solti performance of the music.  But I’ve had enough Wagner for a while.

        Netflix began streaming Narcos a week ago today.  I saw a favorable review in the NY TIMES, so we watched the first episode and were hooked.  Do not watch if you are offended by sex and violence.  There is even more here than in The Ring, and it is more explicit.
        Narcos and The Ring also have in common that they are both concerned with the attempt to obtain absolute power.
        Hitler admired Wagner greatly.  I wonder if as he watched the operas he saw himself as Siegfried?


        You hear about some voyages even before they begin, particularly if the sailor and/or his sponsors have a PR agent, and then nothing else.  For some reason I found myself wondering the other evening what had happened to an American sailor older than I who was planning to try to circumnavigate non-stop in a 60+ foot boat.  I couldn’t remember his name, but did recall an article about the boat in CRUISING WORLD, whose editor, Mark Pillsbury identified the man as Stanley Paris and gave me a link to his site.
        This will be old news to some of you, but Stanley Paris tried twice and abandoned both attempts at Cape Town.  
        You can find out some of what happened at his site and more by googling his name.
        I recall seeing a photo of his boat with four hydrogenerators on the transom.  Each of these costs about $4,000, though perhaps they give bulk discounts, and my thought at the time was that they alone cost more than I paid for GANNET.


        My Withings app awarded me the Lake Baikal badge for having walked 450 miles, the length of the lake.
        I achieved a new personal stair well best:  49 seconds from bottom to top.  I doubt I can improve much on that unless I take stairs two at a time.  I did as an experiment and made it up in 37 seconds.  It was in fact easier two at a time as well as faster, but I’m not looking for easy and so will stick to taking each step.
        Although it is probably sufficiently water resistant, my Apple watch is not going to be a sailing  watch.  I think it would get banged around too much.  But I am going to take it to NZ with me.  I’m curious what it will make of the Opua hill.