Having grown up in a house full of opera from dawn until dusk I somehow managed, whilst travelling through Verdi and Puccini (and more) to miss out on the glories of Wagner.
Many will tell you that Wagner is too long, too lugubrious, too lacking in tunes. Having fallen on my Wagner feet just a few years ago I would agree with them in some cases as I still find some of his opera difficult, but say that there can be little more beautiful in the opera repertoire than, for example, the overture to die Meistersinger conducted here by H von Karajan, or the quintet from Act III. I could go on and no doubt will as I’m off to see Tristan and Isolde next week.
I am by no means an opera expert, but like most of us, I know what I like to listen to. Yes there are parts of every Wagner opera which seem to go on for quite a long time, but there is also glorious music well worth getting to know.
Meistersinger at the Opera Bastille on Sunday was packed with not an empty seat in the house – Wagner tends to do that. Conducted by the superb and supremely elegant Philippe Jordan who Paris is lucky enough to have as its Music Director and performed by a cast headed by Gerald Finley as Hans Sachs – also to be heard at Glyndebourne in the same opera in a few months, and a wonderfully ridiculous and pathetic Bo Skovus as Beckmesser.
If you’re new to Wagner but want to ‘give it a go’ I suggest you get listening to Meistersinger. Prepare for a long haul but who cares. If you love opera it’ll be worth every moment. From tears to laughter, Meistersinger is spellbinding.
Yesterday I happily found a new place for lunch in Paris offering fusion Thai/Chinese food a reasonable prices. Called Village Ung and situated just off the Champs Elysees at 10 rue Jean Mermoz expect it to be absolutely packed with French people enjoying fresh Thai and Chinese dishes. You may have a little wait at lunchtime as the place is so busy, but they seem to cram everyone in and the food is well worth the wait.
If you’re in the centre of Paris and you want to try a restaurant off the beaten track but obviously much in favour of the locals this is well worth a visit.