Gods and mortals alike had to wait Saturday when yet another problem with the complex set delayed the Metropolitan Opera's production of Wagner's "Die Walkuere," which was being televised live to movie theaters around the world and broadcast on radio.
Hundreds of people were waiting outside the opera house at 12:15 p.m. — 15 minutes after the listed curtain time for the five-hour performance — before finally being allowed into the theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Met spokeswoman Lee Abrahamian said a malfunctioning encoding sensor in one of the set's 24 aluminum planks was discovered Saturday morning as the stage was being set. The performance started at 12:44 p.m Eastern time (1744 GMT). — 35 minutes later than the Met planned to begin — and ended about 45 minutes behind schedule at 5:50 p.m. (2150 GMT).
"Each of the planks that make up the set have an encoder on board and that encoder tells the computer where that plank is, in relation to the axis," Met Technical Director John Sellars said on the live telecast. "Without the information from the encoder, the computers won't know where the plank is, so they won't know how to map the video images on the plank, and we also wouldn't be able to make all the different shapes with the machine that we make."
The 90,000-pound (40,800-kilogram) set twists into different shapes, and lights and projections are used to create the effects such as water and fire specified by Wagner in his "Der Ring des Nibelungen."
On Sept. 28, the set malfunctioned on the opening night of the season, a performance of "Das Rheingold" that opened the four-part Ring Cycle directed by Robert Lepage, which is being unveiled over two seasons. Because of the malfunction, the mythological gods were unable to ascend to Valhalla and had to simply walk off the stage.
When "Die Walkuere" opened on April 22, soprano Deborah Voigt (Bruennhilde) tripped on the set and fell when making her entrance. At the third performance, on April 28, one of the Valkyries, mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti (Siegrune) slid down one of the planks and landed awkwardly.
The Met's "Live in HD" broadcasts are beamed to 1,500 movie theaters around the world, many in Europe, where the final note was played at 11:50 p.m. (0350 GMT) Abrahamian said theaters carried the opera to its conclusion.
The Met was unsure of whether its final performance of the season, Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice," would start as scheduled at 9 p.m. (0100 GMT).