But I don’t need to talk about that given that so many other critics have acclaimed their performances. It is Grimsley, who in the intermission suggested that he plays Wotan not simply as a god but as a kind of Shakespearian tragic figure, who helped me, through his performance, to see another dimension—surely one discussed endlessly over the years since the opera premiered in 1870 (the MET first performed it in 1885).
Grimsley’s Wotan is almost sick to death for his immortality, readily willing to die if only he might be able free himself from his own restrictions, to become a “free man” able once more to enjoy the sensual pleasures available, evidently, only on earth. If only someone might come along Wotan sings, to, without his interactions to save them, become a kind of hero who might deny the gods and destroy their power. This is Nietzsche, of course, speaking through Wagner, or Wagner, prefiguring the great philosopher.