Epically Intimate - Detroit Opera

Epically Intimate

Over the summer, Detroit Opera’s Artistic Director Yuval Sharon talked with Associate Artistic Director Christine Goerke about bringing Wagner’s opera and one of her signature roles to the Detroit Opera House stage.

Listen to the full conversation on our podcast:

Yuval Sharon: We are about to revisit a production that we did at the Hollywood Bowl, which asked you to not just sing this incredibly beautiful, but challenging final act of Die Walküre, but also to move in kind of two planes at the same time.  What was what was it like for you now as you reflect on it?

Christine Goerke: It was unbelievably cool to be a part of this thing. I'm always game. I had no idea what we were doing: rehearse on a stage with green screen, and rehearse with props that were green, and men covered in green.  There's so much green.

YS: There's a lot of green [chuckles]

CG: What's cool about this is that — although I wasn't privy to seeing exactly what the end product was imagined to be — as we’re performing, we're seeing the same thing the audience is seeing. For us, we're interacting with each other on a plane that seems completely realistic because people are right in front of us. And then we're also able to see ourselves in the grand scheme of this incredible landscape that's being created digitally. I couldn't have imagined that I would ever have an opportunity to do something like this. And I'm really looking forward to seeing how it transfers into the Opera House here.

YS: It’ll be great to hear it in this opera house with the acoustic world of this theater. I'm also looking forward to the fact that your live performance is going to be so front and center.

CG: There is an intimacy here where people can see people's faces onstage and we can see people's faces in the audience. That's something that's incredible for a performer. But there's also something to say about the way that Wagner put this together. The story…yes, it's about Gods. Yes, it's about Valkyries and flying. But it's not just this fantastical thing. It is an intimate look at a relationship that is falling apart or coming of age. Every child sees their parent that they have put on a pedestal at some point. They see them as human and fallible. While perhaps Wotan isn't human, he's certainly fallible. And that moment happens here.

YS: It exists on the plane of that unbelievable humanity between, in this case, primarily the daughter and her father. But then there's all these mythic backgrounds. And yet the music was what Wagner called the music of the future, the artwork of the future, right, something that's, that still feels futuristic. Some of that music still sounds to me like science fiction.

CG: But I mean, it is that kind of thing: you can be forward-thinking while still staying in touch to the fact that it would be amazing if Wagner had this technology. But it is also something that is still attached to the past.

YS: Exactly, exactly.

CG: When Dr. DiChiera was still with us, and I was here singing Elektra, he told me that one of the things he really wanted to do was Die Walküre. So, when this came up, it feels a bit full circle. I'm excited that it's going to be gracing this stage, giving him what he wanted. I'm really excited that Sir Andrew Davis is going to be joining us to open our season. And it's his debut here with us at Detroit Opera. We also have a brand-new reduction for the orchestra. We have 75 as our full capacity in our pit. So, we were intent to use every inch of space for the sonority and the grandeur of the loudness of it all. It'll be a brand-new experience. No one's heard this orchestration, and no one has experienced what's going to be happening here so, lucky Detroit!

YS: As the director, I really want to take advantage of that and open up the whole world of this music into all of these other potential inspirations. The notion that the audience gets to kind of piece it together for themselves and maybe hear something that's music based on the visuals that I can't anticipate. That gets me very excited.

CG: But that's the game, right? Nobody knows what to expect when they walk into the opera house. And even if you expect to feel a certain way, you can't be sure that's how you'll feel when you come out. You can't be sure that something is not going to touch you in a way you weren't expecting. That's the beauty of live art. I think that people are going to walk out of this with so much more than they were expecting.

YS: I think so too.

The Valkyries is a high-tech treatment of the most famous act in Wagner’s Ring Cycle makes this an experience you will not want to miss. Detroit Opera’s own Yuval Sharon and Christine Goerke join forces in this unique production which zooms in on the drama of Act III, beginning with the unforgettable “Ride of the Valkyries” and ending with “Magic Fire Music.”

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