Traditional staging of Das Rheingold
Otto Schenk's version of Das Rheingold may appeal to fresh Wagnerians who just want to try and understand what is happening. For advanced opera goers, this DVD probably will cause a loooong yawn. Nothing is very exciting on this DVD. The singers are OK, James Levine is faster than could be feared, the costumes and set pieces unimaginative."
Here's an excerpt from the Vcd.
This is an opera that lasts about two and a half hours, without intermission and entirely in German. With all this, I predicted that my children would not last through the show and would probably walk off by the first quarter.
To cut a long story short, there were yawns among some of us, but Jo surprised me. She sat down, watched the entire thing TWICE in a day. Then she watched it again the next day. And now she's watched it 4 times. Just today, I was so tickled when from downstairs I heard cheers of encore and applause coming from my little one upstairs after watching the Rheingold again. I thought to myself, "This is Ridiculous! To watch this opera so many times through and still clap like that!"
You know golden moments, where a child is inspired to learn? This was one of it. I decided to use her current fascination as an opportunity to do some music appreciation with her. So today, we sat down and discussed stuff like the definition of Opera, Libretto, Leitmotif, Scenes, Recitative, Aria and also we also learnt a little bit about Richard Wagner.
While discussing motifs from Das Rheingold, we used this site Synopsis with musical excerpts, where we listened to just some of the more distinct motifs, and discussed how music can represent characters, how music can carry different moods and colours, and how it is important in opera.
We also discussed the plot, scenes and characters. When giving her a quiz (while I peeked through the translation of the libretto), I was surprised by her knowledge. She knew the story better than me, was able to describe the scenes and characters quite accurately.
Having discussed the Rheingold, we searched online for interesting opera sites. WE found this very interesting interactive site that has an activity to help children learn more about opera.
This interactive game is so wonderful in that, it has great music and singing. It also has teaching notes to help children understand the role of music in opera, and to help focus listening. There are also buttons to click to help decide on costumes, props, choreography, lighting, movement etc.
|Here Jo had to decorate the witch's cottage, and then drag the knob to determine how fast the witch should pop up.|
The web also provides follow up activities for children such as the cut out below, which can be used for creating ones own puppet show.
We also printed the following, (just an excerpt here) and discussed questions.
and we also explored additional links on the site such as Forms of Music .
I can see this lesson going in many directions, from staging her own puppet opera tomorrow, to writing librettos, to possibly composing motives, learning more about Wager, Romanticism, the orchestra, history, Germany and of course, other operas.
Jo's remarks at the end of it all, "I loved the quiz about Das Rheingold, and I love making my own opera. Let's learn more tomorrow mum!"