A musical reflection for a father-less Father's Day

The death of my father in February makes for a bittersweet Father's Day this year. It's strange when you no longer have to find a card and try to come up with a gift idea.

But, like every day, it's an occasion to remember all the great times, all the love he offered unconditionally, the sacrifices made, the encouragement (every visit or phone call ended with his parting line, "Keep up the good work"), the contagious sense of humor.

I wanted to acknowledge all of that on this Father's Day in some musical way. I got to thinking about fathers in music, and that quickly led me to one of the most moving passages in all of opera -- Wotan's Farewell from Wagner's "Die Walkure."

Not that I viewed my father as a Teutonic god (though he could bellow like one at times), or a great bass-baritone (though he could sing with terrific tenderness). There's just something very familiar about Wotan's pride and stubbornness, and how, as this scene reveals, he could not stay angry at his child for long. I'm sure an awful lot of us can relate to fathers like that, and will always feel grateful to them.

(There are many stirring performances of Wotan's Farewell, but, being based in Charm City, I felt I should choose a version featuring Baltimore's own James Morris, who just happens to be one of the best, ever, in this role.)

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