Saturday of Wagner Weekend

Today in Library@Esplanade, there was a chance to watch a wonderfully sung performance of “The Flying Dutchman”. Catherine Naglestad as Senta and Juha Uusitalo as The Dutchman convinced with their singing in De Nederlandse Opera’s stunning modern setup.

This screening was followed by an enlightening and entertaining talk by Natalie Ng on Wagner’s Music and The Flying Dutchman in Popular Culture. Natalie’s focus was on comics and cinema. Did you know that Bugs Bunny in “What’s Opera, Doc?” sang to music from “Die Walkurie”, with Elmer Fudd venturing into Siegfried’s role? Or that Marvel Comics’ “Thor” once featured a story over several issues that was inspired by Wagner’s Operas? “The Ride of the Valkyries” featured in “Apocalypse Now“, where its use when US helicopters attacked a Vietnamese village contrasted the hyped-up, gung-ho attitudes of the attackers with the devastation below. The opening chords of “Tristan and Isolde” complemented well the opening of Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia”. “The Flying Dutchman”‘s stormy opening featured at the beginning of the Bugs Bunny cartoon mentioned above.

The afternoon was concluded with Dr. Katherine Wallace’s presentation, “Stormy Weather: Shipwrecks and Seafarers in Opera and Song”. She showed how life on and by the unpredictable but often rough sea had shaped music. We heard work songs from Europe, West Africa and Hongkong – this last a song sung by women who lived and worked on boats. We listened to folk songs inspired by sea, sea-faring live and its work and tragedies. She explained us in lively fashion what it meant to work on a boat and do heavy chores in a group kept together through singing, as well as referring to what women who lived men who went to sea suffered when they left on a voyage, possibly never to return.. Inspired by her past, growing up in Newfoundland in Canada and coming from a sailor’s family, she surprised and delighted us with a brilliant live performance of a song from her home island.
Don’t miss today’s screening and talks. You will enjoy them!

(story by Isabel Markwitz, pictures by Isabel Markwitz and Ngiap Heng)

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