This is a bit of a departure from my usual Friday Fun, being largely spoken word. Anna Russell, it seems, started her career as an opera singer, and then decided that while singing opera was pretty good fun, pointing up opera’s absurdities for comic effect was even more fun. And she managed to base a career on this, which makes me deeply envious, because that sounds like the best job in the world.
Here she is, back in 1953, explaining Wagner’s Ring Cycle to the unsuspecting public. The closest I’ve come to Wagner’s Ring cycle is the Cambridge Buskers playing the Ride of the Valkyries on sopranino recorder and piano accordion, and I find it hilarious. I’m told that if you actually know the operas in question, it’s absolutely hysterical.
I love the way she does all the voices, not to mention the piano. And her beautiful, proper English opera voice when she is speaking just makes the whole thing so much more brilliant. She actually makes me start thinking that I should give Wagner a go after all, which is something nobody has persuaded me to in the past…
Honestly, I can’t think of much commentary to make one this. It speaks for itself. I will note that she did a later version of this in her farewell tour, which is longer and which I find funnier, though her voice had deteriorated quite a bit by that point. (Or, if half an hour is too much talk of Wagner for you, here’s an animated version of the whole Ring Cycle in 2.5 minutes)
“That’s the beauty of grand opera – you can do anything, so long as you sing it!”
Incidentally, this seems like as good a moment as any to mention that I have a knitted Brünhilde hat!
I really am going to have to learn to sing some Wagner, aren’t I?