“It was all good,” said the tenor Jay Hunter Morris at the recent Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Wagner’s Dream. “I said yes to everything. The cameras aren’t the hardest part. The hardest part is singing Siegfried.”
Mr. Morris was discussing his role in Wagner’s Dream, a documentary about the production process of the Ring cycle at the Metropolitan Opera. Filmmaker Susan Froemke took her cameras through the planning of Robert Lepage’s complicated set and through the rehearsals at which Deborah Voigt and Mr. Morris learned their challenging roles. “There really were no limits,” Ms. Froemke told us.
“I hope it’ll be a bridge,” said Mr. Morris. “As opera’s been broadcast into theaters, I’ve gotten so much love. There’s a multitude of people who are not from New York. And they love it. I’m shocked too! Who wants to sit through five hours? But they do!”
Mr. Morris is depicted in the film as a surprise addition to the cast after the last-minute withdrawal of his predecessor–it’s the film’s biggest twist. “It’s showbiz,” he said. “I’ve been trying to be in showbiz for 25 years.”
Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager whose friendship with Ms. Froemke kick-started the film, told us that if the film’s backstage access demystified opera, he was unconcerned. “I’m not interested in mystifying opera. There’s this idea that if you’re not in the opera suite, you can’t enter this world. Breaking that down is what I’ve been doing since I came in.” The film depicts the Met board’s grievances with Mr. Gelb’s innovations in presenting theRingcycle with Mr. Lepage.
Deborah Voigt told us, “Seeing we singers struggle brings us back to earth a little.” She hadn’t seen the film at the time of the premiere, purposefully: “I’ve been preparing these roles. Ask me what I think later, when I’m under the chair crying.” Despite some footage of her exhaustion during rehearsal–she flops onto a bed after hitting the right note–Ms. Voigt managed to get through an after-film Q&A session fine.
Wagner’s Dream plays for one night only at local theaters tonight.
Follow Daniel D'Addario via RSS.