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One Wide Woman

Hearing it at Hamer Hall

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My friend Sara, decided it was time I got a bit couth, so I switched off Billy Ray Cyrus singing ĎAchy Breaky Heart,í and headed for the new Hamer Hall to get a dose of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra trotting out a bit of Wagner and Beethoven.

First up was Beethovenís Pastoral. By the time Beethoven wrote this, he had lost most of his hearing, but this didnít slow him up. Hamer Hall also had hearing problems, but at least they could do something about that. Theyíve recently improved the situation, and the pitch is damn near perfect. The sound now does justice to the performers (Sorry Billy Ray, theyíve got the edge on you).

I canít say the same for the pitch of the seating. Iím somewhat height challenged, so if Sara hadnít magnanimously let me have the aisle seat, I would have spent the night gazing at the hairs rising and falling on the nape of the neck sitting in front of me.

The second half of the program was the ĎThe Valkyrie,í which is part of the Ring cycle. This was sung in German, so there were more prolonged, heavily rolled Ďrísí than youíd find in a Marilyn Monroe film. Someone once said that her Ďrísí reminded him of two bobcats trying to fight their way out of a hessian bag. Well if someone didnít say it, they should have.

Itís not related to Tolkeinís Ring, which was recently sung in New ĎZilland.í Tolkein said he didnít steal it, but based his story on the same fables.

Whatever, itís still a rattling good tale, full of the odd murder and incest. The god, Wotan has nine daughters called Valkyrie, who collect people, presumably dead, and take them to Valhalla. As if he hasnít done enough in the procreation stakes, Wotan then impregnates a Ďmortal womaní who gives birth to twins, Siemund and Sieglinde who get separated as babies. Sieglinde, against her wishes, is married to Hunding. In the meantime, Siegmund, who is brought up in the Wolfings tribe, goes around doing the usually plundering and whatever. This leads to another tribe hunting him. He seeks sanctuary at Hundingís house, not knowing he is from the tribe that is after him.

Siegmund and Sieglinde discover that they are twins, fall in love, and then the inevitable incest occurs. This understandably upsets Hunding, who then kills Siegmund with the help of Siegemundís father, Wotan, who just happened to be passing. Wotan is also a bit upset at the incest bit, but doesnít shy away from assisting in the murder of his son. He then evens things up a bit by also murdering Hunding. Gods can do that sort of thing.
Sieglinde, Siegmund and Hunding do all the singing in the show. Sieglinde is all dressed up for the occasion. I would have liked it if the two male singers had done the same, instead of dressing like part of the orchestra. Perhaps something Germanic, like the outfit worn by Captain Von Trapp in the sound of music. OK so he was Austrian, and lived a zillion years later, but you get the idea.

The voices were great, and while the males werenít exactly heart throb material in the looks department. (Stop smirking, Billy Ray, neither are you) there were a couple of dreamboats in the back up, but they were otherwise occupied. The conductor was really cute, bouncing around with dancing hands, doing something like an upside down Irish Jig, with most of the action going on above the belt, instead of below it, while controlling the orchestra at the same time.

And then there was the violinist with flowing white hair. He looked like a cherubic Asian- faced Julian Assange. If I was a few decades younger, and he wasnít married, I reckon it would take more than the Gods to keep us apart.

If youíre ever watching the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which I can highly recommend, look out for him. His name is Cong Gu. You canít miss him. Heís the one with the violin. Say hello for me.

By Brenda Richards

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Updated 21st August 2012 at 01:48 AM by Mick Pacholli



  1. Mick Pacholli's Avatar
    My Grandmother on dad's was Linda Valkyrie Rasmussen, I think she used to do something similar at the RSL's right into her '80's...if you follow what I mean.

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