An aside: The Valkyrie Profile games (just 1 and 2, 3 seems to be an oddball) are incredibly interesting because in each the main character is a valkyrie who recruits dead heros for Odin's holy army in a fight against the giants at Ragnarök. The 2nd game takes a different twist on this idea, by encountering spirits of already-dead heros and recruiting them well after their deaths. In the 1st, however, you witness the events that lead up to their deaths and then recruit them. It's quite a unique idea, as well as the gameplay.
Emultation of Valkyrie Profile failed miserably, since there seems to be a perhaps intentional software design that breaks the emulation at the very beginning. So I started a quest to find the game online for cheap (as opposed to eBay's usual $100+ price tag). I eventually found it from someone who may not have known the value of what he was selling, but in the end I got the game for a reasonable $10! We finished that game, and I said to Kyra, "We should really watch Wagner's Ring Cycle [a series of operas], since these games are based on it." Kyra replied, "No, that will be too boring."
Well, to our amazement, a few weeks later, PBS aired the Met's production of the Wagner's Ring Cycle, and we were floored. The stage design is simply amazing, and it really allows for the set to express a great deal of emotion. Seriously, it's incredibly unique, and you just have to see it: here's a sampling of staging designs.
We watched a little of each opera except for the last and were simply entranced. We had to buy the DVDs and watch the whole thing. Since the operas are so long, it wasn't practical for us to start watching before the kids were in bed and stay up so late to finish it. Further, one or the other kid woke up, so one of us missed something on each broadcast. Still, thank you WPT for showing it! We would have never known about it!
Kyra eventually bought the DVD set for my birthday, and we're just getting around to watching it now. We have all but Götterdämmerung ("Twilight of the Gods") left. The series is fantastic. I highly recommend it for not only seasoned opera lovers (who I am not) and people who never thought twice about opera (basically me). It is amazing and possibly a "gateway" opera - Kyra is talking about watching other operas "just to see" if she's entranced by Wagner or the Met's production, or if she really does like opera.
(Oh, and now that I've watched Das Rheingold, the battle cry "Nibelung Valesti" from the Valkyrie Profile games makes a lot more sense. Essentially, it would mean "Worthy of the Nibelung" or "The Nibelung was Worthy" or something like that. Interestingly, Google Translate provides "Nibelung Founded" as the translation - perhaps it meant "Created by the Nibelung". The "Nibelung" is the dwarf Alberich who forged the Ring, and in the first game, Valkyrie is wearing the "Nibelungen Ring", and it is an important plot element to remove it. No, not that Ring. The original Ring.)
Additionally, for Christmas, LP and Nick got me a book called "Mozart in the Jungle" - about classical music and drugs, apparently. On page 2 of the prologue, two guys are doing drugs and talking about Siegfried, the 3rd opera in the Ring Cycle. One of the guys says something like, "They think Star Wars made up this stuff - it's just Siegfried, man!" Further, I started playing a game series called Shadow Hearts, and in game 2, one of the characters oddly enough learns new sword moves by reviewing scenes from Wagner's Ring Cycle that the character finds randomly lying around!
All in all, this is a bizarre series of events all closely related to one monumental cultural touchstone, and it's just strange!
Oh, and one other thing, The Lord of the Rings is all ripped off of The Ring Cycle!!! (More about that later.)