Valkyries and fire

Tonight I've been listening over the ether waves to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra with Nina Stemme and John Lundgren doing most of the final Act of Die Walküre. They were a bit short of Valkyries, but did pretty well all the same.

For me, this opera is as good as Wagner gets - the point where his revolutionary ideas about the Total Work of Art finally come together and grip. 'Revolutionary' is not a metaphor. The theme is, basically, the human cost of power politics - which destroy Hunding's family, tear the Valkyrie sisters apart, drive the surviving lover Sieglinde into exile as a refugee, and finally destroy the bond between daughter and father, Brünnhilde and Wotan. The great scene where the doomed god says farewell, fondly remembering her childhood, ignorant that she will destroy him and his world, gives me shivers from head to foot.

The famous Fire Music that follows is all too relevant. The city of Sydney, where I'm listening, has been choking in smoke from bushfires for five days. Last summer a good part of western and central Tasmania went up in flames. Australia's contribution to global warming has been to elect a right-wing climate-denialist government and push on with gigantic coal exports and new coal mines. Please bring the Valkyries back, we have a new job for them.
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