Opera (not Oprah) and the Derwent River

How can I make a connection? This blog is not meant to be a diary of my life rather a record of my walk along the Derwent River in Tasmania. However, when I experience something wonderful I feel enormous pressure to share.  My challenge, therefore, is to make a reasonable connection with the Derwent River.

Yesterday I watched, via their program ‘Live in HD’, one of Metropolitan Opera’s (New York) latest performances of Richard Wagner’s opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

The connection I am making is slim and relates only to the location of my viewing.  The opera was screened in MONA’s (Museum of New and Old Art) Cinemona theatre.  Long term followers of this blog will know that this internationally renowned Museum is located directly on the western shore of the Derwent River within the Greater Hobart Area (I walked there in Stage 9 and left there on Stage 10).

Another tidbit of connecting information is that a 3 Act opera named ‘Mona’ was premiered at the Metropolitan Opera just over a century ago (yes I am clutching at straws).  In her book American Opera, Elise Kuhl Kirk remarks: “By the time Mona was given its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in 1912, audiences had wearied of German ideology. Parker’s heroic libretto was ‘somewhat grey’ some said … Parker admired … Wagner.”

The Met’s latest performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was definitely not grey. It is the story of a man in love who needed to become a mastersinger, but had no experience and possibly no talent, in 16th century Nuremburg Germany. Richard Wagner wrote and composed this opera in the 1860s.

Through their ‘Live in HD’ program, the Met releases a series of operas around the world each year.

Years ago, the CMAX at Devonport on the northwest coast of Tasmania was the only cinema in this State to screen the series. In the past couple of years MONA at Berriedale has also offered the fabulous opportunity to see what amounts to current performances (the actual performance would have been staged in New York only a few weeks ago), current sets and current sophisticated back-stage technology.  The singers are world class at the top of their careers, and the sounds they make can be sublime. During the intermissions, routinely a notable opera singer interviews members of the cast, sometimes the conductor of the orchestra, the Stage Manager or others – all of which adds immeasurably to the pleasure of the experience.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is Wagner’s longest work and the performance lasts over 6 hours including the two intermissions.  The outside temperature in Hobart was very warm yesterday so being able to immerse myself inside watching the performance made me feel extremely fortunate.

Words such as thrilling, brilliant, overwhelming, powerful, breathtaking, and rousing all come to mind when I remember my experience – especially in the third Act.  This opera will be rescreened at MONA tomorrow (23rd Feb) and again on Friday 27th Feb for anyone who is interested to visit MONA by the Derwent River.  I feel sure you will have heard the main theme of this opera before: check out the start of an orchestral performance at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKG8ZxEOdwE  (Published on Apr 6, 2012 Full Opera Recording “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg”. Sung by Theo Adam, René Kollo, Geraint Evans, Peter Schreier, Helen Donath, Ruth Hesse. Recorded by Staatskapelle Dresden and the Chorus of the Staatsoper Dresden. Conducted by Herbert von Karajan (EMI, studio, 1970).)

16 thoughts on “Opera (not Oprah) and the Derwent River

  1. jenspen1961

    I do not know much about opera however the piece you posted by Richard Wagner and that absolutely drop dead gorgeous photo depicting the ribbon that separates the eastern and western shores of Hobart gives me a sense that this must be a rather majestic place? Is this photo of your Derwent River? It is so breathtakingly beautiful that I want to go there!

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Yes it is the Derwent River taken from on top of Mount Wellington which overlooks Hobart. I was born a Tasmanian, lived on the mainland for over 20 years, then by choice came back because there are so many beautiful things about the place, so many festivals and creative events, so much easy access to the mainland and overseas if needed, and it seems to take no time to travel anywhere by comparison with the bigger cities on the mainland. In an earlier comment on one of your posts/comments I did ask if you had yet figured out a way to walk to Tasmania and around it on your journey. Once here, I do not believe you could walk around the south west coast – no roads and virgin bush in places where it rains 300 days a year (but not like Tully – its cold and miserable usually out there). Never the less there are ways you could walk 3/4 of ‘around Tassie’. I look forward to more communication about how this could happen. By the way, I hope you listened, at least for short while, to the You Tube video of the Wagner opera – had you heard that music somewhere before?

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      1. jenspen1961

        Well we will cross that bridge (walking around Tassy) when we come to it (pun intended!) – I listened to the video you posted, but before then no I have never heard Wagner before. Did you see our first YouTube video clip that I posted? I say we because it is a joint effort of my husband (the photographer) and myself and shares a bit of our journey in the middle of the NT. Well your river is so amazing, I just love it and its no wonder you are committed to walking it. Have a great day 🙂

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        1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

          I did see your first video in a rush as I prepared to take another walk (which I did yesterday and which I am about to start writing up) and therefore I didn’t make time to send you a comment – which I will do on your blog for others to read. For now I will say that you inspired me – I have lots to learn – I am yet to know how you did what you did and I want to do it. Thought it was excellent idea.

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          1. jenspen1961

            oh Thank you very much. I’m just learning, but i love doing this sort of thing I only use Movie Maker on my pc.
            I have been having some time out and find this sort of activity (after my walk of course) very relaxing and helpful to a tired stressed mind! My husband is the photographer so we are blessed with thousands of photos….. Look forward to your next post 🙂

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            1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

              Thanks for your comment and I am glad you are enjoying my blog postings. I have just responded to another comment and talked about the need for all of us to keep life simple. Which I think means we should agree with ourselves to do less (even when we feel we ought to do more) and get a deeper and richer experience from the fewer things we do. And I cant find anything which gives me the high that these walks are giving me.

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              1. jenspen1961

                Oh yes I so agree with you about doing less. The world is just much too busy, that busy in fact, that the important things in life get overlooked. I have been so guilty of this in the past. I am actually just in the process of pulling away from all this, as I am quite an introvert, but have not been taking the time I need to refresh as I should. I have repeated this pattern a lot over the years… I run with my passion, but forget myself. Very hard to find the balance. But at last, now that I’ve been on this planet for over half a century, I think I am at that place where I am going to get it right. Hence the currently walking / training and the future big walk…. its always been my dream. What I am slowly learning is that I can still address my passions, just not the way I had been accustomed to. Im not an extrovert, I can’t handle being and talking with people …. even after 15 minutes of talking I am exhausted. But writing, communicating in this blog or on social media, well it energises me. Walking gives me that high too, and the thought of walking for ‘purpose’ gives me an even bigger one! Walking Australia – well if I could spend the next 20 years doing just that I would have achieved the ultimate for me. Goodnight and enjoy your simple but amazing life… tomorrow, the next day and the nest….. God bless

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                1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

                  Thanks. I loved it when you said “I can still address my passions, just not the way I had been accustomed to.” the key I am finding is to consider my ‘right’ way is not the only way. How else can I live, that adds value to the lives of others and makes me happy, is now what I look for. What are my alternatives. And gradually I am loosening off from my old ways and ideas.

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                  1. jenspen1961

                    Yes, I agree. It’s sad that a lot of what we “do” is based on what we were taught, rather than what we ourselves have perceived. All of us are brain washed to a certain extent and sometimes we need to flush that stuff out!

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Thanks for this excellent information. When I found that Wagner spent time in London, I hunted high and low to see if he travelled around England and went near any of the English Derwent Rivers.Alas there is silence about whether he did more than conduct etc in London.

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