I don’t care what the Met program listing says, or what the broadcast announcer announced. The Met substituted a ringer on the podium for the second act of this afternoon’s broadcast of Die Walküre. I’ve not a shadow of a doubt that Lorin Maazel was on the podium for Acts I and III. His infuriating and willfully quirky fingerprints were all over both acts with predictably deleterious effect. But Act II, if not altogether perfect (much of the Todesverkündigung flirted perilously with the ponderous in attempting the required grave and solemn, and Wotan’s final exit lacked the fury the drama and the music demand), was conducted by a Wagner conductor who knows his business even if not quite a possessor of that rarest of rarities, the “Wagner Gene”. By contrast, Maazel screwed up Act I royally by sentimentalizing almost all of it, and by fracturing this most perfect single act in all the Ring, and among the most perfect in all of opera, into a series of mini-episodes with no sense whatever of the sweep of the musico-dramatic arc of the whole. And he did violence to Act III by taking liberties of tempi that were simply egregious, and by altering Wagner’s score to the extent of interjecting his own full-measure-rests for the entire orchestra into that seamless, heart- and gut-wrenchingly sublime 24-measure orchestral sequence — perhaps the most heart- and gut-wrenching passage in all of opera — that follows Wotan’s, “Denn einer nur freie die Braut, der freier als ich, der Gott!” (For only one shall win the bride, one freer than I, the god!), and by so doing destroyed utterly the sequence's overwhelming emotional impact.
What’s that? You think my claiming the substitution of a podium ringer for Act II makes me out to be a nut case conspiracy theorist?
Oh yeah? Well, then, you come up with a more plausible explanation. I can’t.