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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  May 8, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. as president obama moves beyond 100 days in his second term, we focus this evening on some of the choices he faces both domestic and foreign. joining me is republican senator bob corker of tennessee, the ranking member of the senate foreign relations committee. >> helping these opposition groups themselves do the things that need to be done so that they are prepared post-- that is what we need to be focused on in my opinion is what the country is going to be post assad. all of our activities need to be moving in that direction. and what we don't need to do is let little events along the way presip difficultly just sort of change our direction. this is a strategy we need to go in. we need to keep our eyes on that. we need to be to kountion post assad. >> rose: we conclude this evening with richard wagner's ring cycle at the metropolitan opera. joining me -- >> i think as every composer
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writing an important opera because he start thinking now i'm writing something crucial, something very important. to put a mirror for us to see ourselves. and all great operas and generally all great artworks are a mirror for us. what do we see in them which we can understand ourselves. and the ring is important because it's about politics. it's about love. it's about power. it's about relationships between family members. >> rose: senator bob corker and looking at the ring cycle next. >> funding for charlie rose was provided by the following
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin there evening with a pressing issues facing leaders in washington, foreign policy is front and center with the escalading chaos in syria, new accusations of chinese
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cyberattack and the risk of if you clear proliferation. president obama addressed recent provocation from north korea earlier today at a joint press conference with the president of south korea. >> the days when north korea could create a crisis and elicit concessions,s this days are over. our two nations are prepared to engage with north korea diplomatically and over time build trust. but as always and as president pak has made clear, the burden is on pyongyang to take meaningful steps to abide by its commitments and obligations, particularly the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. >> rose: a little more than 100 days into president obama second term he also faces a series of domestic challenges. gun control legislation that would have extended background tests failed to pass the stat last month. the administration has yet to contend with deficit reduction, immigration reform and new threats to homeland security. joining me now from capitol hill, senator bob corker. a republican senator from tennessee, also the ranking member of the senate foreign relations committee.
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welcome. >> good to be with you. >> rose: good to be with you. we talked to you in the morning and we talk to you at night. you can't get enough corker, they say. >> well, i can't get enough charlie rose, so thank you. >> rose: so let's talk first about syria and where that debate is. senator mccain was here last night. where do you think the president is in terms of what might be called an evolving series of considerations about what is wise, what's possible, what's necessary. >> well, charlie, you know, we do need to change the balance there. the opposition groups are made up into multiple groups but generally speaking there's the more extreme al qaeda oriented, groups which are great fighters, they're good at delivering humanitarian aid to citizens there and then more moderate secular group, the opposition groups that we would like to see survive. and as this has evolved, assad being there is becoming a little bit lesser of an issue, believe it or not, than who will be there
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after him. i do think assad will leave and i think and hopefully that will happen very soon. but there's a second war that is taking place inside syria. it would be very much counter to our national interests for one of these extremist groups to control syria after assad. and so what we need to do is change that balance. the opposition groups that are more secular anmore moderate are not good fighters. they're not good at delivering humanitarian aid. so we need to help them coordinate. we need to help them be able to deliver humanitarian aid in a much better way. and i think over the next short period of time we also will be helping to arm them. i know there are lots of arms that are flowing into syria. but the arming of these more moderate secular groups is almost becoming more symbolic than necessary. i do think we're going to be doing that soon. and i do hope we're able to change the balance. let me just mention one other piece. i know i'm talking long on this answer. but it's very important that these more moderate secular
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groups begin to reach out to the alowites. they are 10% of the population. they support assad. they think they're going to be external natured if assad falls. that is really one of the primary and maybe only reason they are supporting assad at this moment. so if we can pull those two groups together so that they know there's a future and a more plurallistic type society post assad i think we'll have a better ability for them to come together and hopefully not have some of the highly negative consequences that might come after the fact. but we have to change the balance. that's what will bring russia in. i think that's what secretary kerry is working on. and i think it's the right thing to do. >> rose: okay, i want to talk about secretary kerry's visit to moscow in just a moment. but i'm surprised that they haven't reached out to the alowites before this. because clearly they have to be part of the solution, do they not? >> there is no question. and you know, it's not just
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them, charlie, as you know. there is a christian population-- population there that is very concerned about extremist sunni taking over the country and what that may mean to them. so a big part of our effort has to be between again these more moderate opposition groups, the alowites, the christian communities there, so that they know there's a future post-assad. and that has to, without that, we're going to have a real bloodbath in syria when this is over. we're already having one but it will be even worse when this is over. >> rose: many people say it's late in the game. that al knust ra has come in there. they have announced, i think, their affiliation or their connections to al qaeda in some way. and that they form a huge portion of the rebel forces today. >> well, they fighter wise as far as numbers go there lots of efforts by 2500 to 6,000. the opposition group in
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general has been estimated most recently to have been 100,000. so they're not a majority from that standpoint but as far as effectiveness goes, they are the more effective group, they're battle hardened. many of them have come in from other countries. i was recently in northern africa in mali, tunesia, al geria, a lot of the fighters that have been in those areas during some of the tough heavy stuff in libya, for instance v migrated to syria which is where they see the battlefront to be and they are very effective fighters. >> do you find when you travel to the region that people are asking you about where is america. >> certainly most recently i have been to syria and assad was there prior to this breaking out but if are you at the refugee camps on the jordanian side, there is no question when you sit down with refugee w people who have been part of the free syrian army tlarx is exactly
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what they ask. they thank us certainly for some of the communications equipment and that type of thing, but they don't really feel like we're committed because of the arming piece and again it's almost becoming because of the flow of the arms, more symbolic because they don't true us as a full participant in what is happening there. >> secretary of state as i said is in moscow. what's possible in your judgement to get from moscow. >> i think again because the balance is not yet changed my understanding, just a preliminary reedout from the media is there was not much progress that occurred there. again it's that changing imbalance that to me is going to affect russia. what russia needs to do if we can show that change in balance, russia needs to figure out and help us with a political resolution of getting assad out of the country. that is the best roll that russia can-- role that
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russia can play in this. russia can do that if there is some degree of understanding of what their regional interests are from are in the region, meaning us understanding that. and again if we can change the calculus with the alatite population that is there and russia can see it. >> rose: is the alawite loyal to assad only because they think as long as he is there he will protect them. or are they willing to let go of him if they thought they would be projected-- protected? >> well, i think there is no question that the second is to the going to happen unless they do feel protected. and you know i think it is one of those things we'll have to see. at present i think they look at their sole survivo survivor-- survival being assad staying. and again that's the equation that america has got to work on. we're the only country, we're the only country in the world that can coordinate and try to carry out that type of strategy. and i think it's our responsibility to try to do that i don't want to see boots on the ground am but i do want to see us far more
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active in the changing of the equation i laid out. >> rose: as you know the president hasn't necessarily said this but people who look at the region say they understand where the president is coming from because if you think like he does, he is scared of what is going on. and u.s. being sucked into a conflict that he cannot play a decisive role without doing things that it's not necessarily prepared to do. and the president is fearful of that kind of mission creep. >> i think -- this is what i tried to outline, charlie. i just rohatyn op o ed in "the new york times" over the last couple of weeks. what i fear is happening because we haven't laid out a clear strategy about what we want to do in syria, i fear that what the president fears happening is going to happen because we don't have that strategy. we're sort of changing what we are doing based on the events currently on the ground. i think we need to lay out this more aggressive strategy, again, to boots on
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the ground, but trying to effect the things we talked about in the first part of your program. and do so aggressively. and i think if we do that, we're more likely to keep ourselves out of a conflict than its way we're going right now where we're just kind of gradually migrating in and responding to the events of the day. so i think it's much better for us, a country that no doubt is war-weary, a country, the united states, that doesn't want to see boots on the ground, i think we're in a much better position to go ahead and try to carry out the things that i just laid out to state that, to coordinate that and to help make that happen with all the countries that are supporting the opposition groups today. >> dow believe when the president said that the use of the chemical weapons is a red line, and let's assume that there is much more of a flagrant violation of that or crossing of that red line. by the moving of chemical weapons somewhere that would scare them, b, using them in larger amounts that would be clear and evident that they are trying to engage in some
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last desperate action. when the president said that's the red line, what would he do? what are his options? >> well, i don't know. i think we need to be careful, i mean, charlie, in the beginning, the first statement that was made was assad pus go. and yet then nothing really happened from the standpoint of tangible activities. and then of course the red line comment was made. and i'm not sure there was a lot of thought that went into that. i do applaud the administration for insurancing that we understand the chain of custody and we understand what exactly is happening. there have been conflicting reports. what i would go back to is to say look, obviously if there's going to be massive use of chemical weapons and you're going to see a massacre of people and huge devastation, we need to be involved in a very different way. but i think again, what we don't want to do is change the overall strategy that i just laid out. i think that's the way we should go.
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i actually think for what it's worth the administration is embracing that. and i think again helping these opposition groups themselves do the things that need to be done so that they are prepared post assad, that's what we need to be focused on, dharlie, in my opinion s what the country is going to be post assad. all of our activities need to be moving in that direction. and what we don't need to do is let little events along the way precipitously just sort of change our direction. (m#q= go in, we need to keep our eyes on that. we need to be to kountion post assad. >> this is from "the new york times" today by david sanger, an article i'm sure you read, lead paragraph, the obama administration explicitly accused china military of mounting attacks on american government commuter systems and defense contractors saying one motive could be to map military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis. and then it says while some recent estimates have been-- have more than 90% of
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cyberes meanage in the united states originatin originating-- cyberespionage originating in china. so what should the president do? >> you know, the theft that is taking place, the intellectual property theft, western companies both here in the united states, in europe is just-- it's nothing like this has ever happened. the threats that are being probed from the standpoint of what you 21wst laid out in our defense capabilities. you know, china is a country that we should have a good relationship with, charlie. it's a country that has 1.4 billion people that are having an increasing standard of living and hopefully will create a situation over time where we become closer and closer and closer because we can benefit each other. but this is absolutely inexcusable. i am glad that finally we have known this for some time, that very direct callouts are occurring. and again, it's going to
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take a lot of effort on behalf of both countries to resolve it. one of the things, i was just there. i was just in seoul. and certainly in tokyo and in beijing. and it's disconcerting, charlie, to hear some of the chinese leaders say, well, you know, every developing country along the way has taken ideas from other countries. you know, this is nothing but absolute theft and something that we need to put on the front of our agenda with china. >> rose: let me switch you to a couple domestic issues. one has to do with senator mansion who also was on the program i do in the morning, and talked about looking for sort of new legislation. he, like you, had i guess an a rating from the nra. can he propose some kind of background checks this you and fellow republican senators would find acceptable and is he likely
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to? i don't know where he's going at present. i know that our office is in communication with senate offices on both sides of the aisle. and charlie, i think there's a way to have universal background checks except between family members. and still absolutely respect and keep all second amendment rights in place. and you know, what people looked at in this legislation is unfortunate that it was looked at in this way. it was a litmus test. i mean are people for background checks or are they not for them. our problems with the toome toomey-mansion legislation was we didn't feel it would work. i mean we've looked at the legislation. some of the problems that it would create in rural areas where people would be hundreds of miles, if you will, from an ffl. who was actually covered. were there going to be selective enforcements taking place. so we actually look at these pieces of legislation, dharl charlie. we try to examine if they
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are going to work. but i think there ought to be a very simple way for instant background checks to occur. if i can go through the airport here at reagan on the way home and i can walk through and they know just by my boarding pass that i'm not a terrorist, there ought to be an instant portabl portable-- portal of some kind that would make it easy for people to check backgrounds. and to be able to certify that they are licensed to be able to purchase a weapon. and we ought to be able to do that in a way that doesn't depress people's second right amendments. that's what we were concerned about with toomey-mansion. and unfortunately in this debate, charlie, nobody ever looked at the efficacy of this piece of legislation. we were actually hoping for a vote on the colbert amendment-- coburn amendment, coburn has put some time into a portal like this that would allow people to instantly be able to download their ability to show that they can purchase a weapon because they're not mentally ill, they're not a felon. i think we need to continue to work on this. and to me there ought to be a solution in a country like
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ours that iss technologically advanced as we are. >> do you think senator toomey and senator mansion want to take away your second amendment rights? >> no. i don't. i think that they attempted a piece of legislation that has some flaws. and i think we need to keep working at this. and i think there is a solution. again, charlie, as i just mentioned, we have the ability to do so many things with technology today that there ought to be a way of doing this. i had say that what i find to be the bigger issue is our mental health system. in my hometown of chattanooga in the county jail t in the jail we have 500 inmates. 150 of them are mentally ill. i do think that our mental health system and our reporting capabilitiesnd the hypa laws that restrict those type of issues to actually be reported so we can keep people who are mentally ill from having weapons, i think there are a lot of frailities around our
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country. and i stand here before your audience and the entire entire country saying i would like to see us resolve that issue and those issues and to keep the kind of things that happened in sandy hook from happening again. i really would like to see that happen. and we are actively engaged with other senate offices right now. >> rose: because there are many people who look at it and say that if there were senators-- i think they need maybe five or six votes, that if senators were not afraid of the political consequences, they would want to see background checks. and they would want to see the mental health aspects of this. yet because of politics and political fears of survival, they are not willing to vote where they think logic would take them. >> well, charlie, i'm a senator from tennessee. and i am looking through this camera clearly at you and tell you, i am all for
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universal background checks. as long as we can figure out a way of doing it so it's not an impediment for people to exercise their second amendment rights. i believe that we can do that. i am a senator from tennessee that wants to see us correct the many freights that occur around our mental health system where the backgrounds and the issues that need to be checked are not done so. and candidly, we're not responding to some of the mental health needs that our country has. so just because two senators produced a piece of legislation, charlie, doesn't mean that it works. i think there's still some work to do and i hope that it will we'll come up with a resolution that works for our country. and i think you would see a lot of senators, by the way, on both sides of the aisle that didn't join in in this last debate or in this last vote want to look at something like that. again, debate was cut av before we ever considered the coburn amendment where he tried to overcome some of the freights that exist in the toomey-mansion bill.
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and his background checks, by the way, were even wider, more broader than the ones that are in the toomey-mansion bill itself. and again it's not perfect. i still think there's work to be done on all fronts to come up with the right solution. and i stand ready to try to make that happen. >> rose: don't you think that at this long-- i mean its it surprises me, you know that this distance from newtown the most latest tragedy, the boston marathon being something very different, that the congress has not been able to come together and find some acceptable means of doing background checks with the mental health aspect as well? >> yeah. you know, charlie, what people-- i don't think people maybe look behind just-- they don't look behind the vote. there's an issue of do you want background checks or do you want a registry of weapons so that every weapon that's purchased in the country is known to be at a certain address.
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obviously there are a lot of people on the second amendment side of this that worry about a national registry. so they-- they don't mind the background check piece. but they don't want the federal government to keep an inventory of what they have in hair them-- their home. so which is it that you are looking for. and that was one of the concerns that some people had regarding toomey mansion. i had other concerns. regarding how it would work. so i agree with you. i think if the two sides really wanted to come together on the issue of real clean and instant, i might a, background checks, i think we could do that as long as there weren't other motives that were a part profit ses. so i couldn't agree more. i think it's an issue that needs to be resolved. and i stand ready to be a constructive part of that and believe that i am today in the many meetings that are taking place between our office and other senate offices on both sides of the aisle. >> one quick question about benghazi and then about your golf with the president. >> okay. >> benghazi, what questions
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remain to be answered to satisfy you that you know exactly what transpired in benghazi and what transpired in washington after benghazi. >> so charlie, i've been through this pretty thoroughly. i think you know that i was a ranking member when secretary clinton came out. at her last meeting between senator kerry's meeting. i was in tripoli right after the event it was a prescheduled trip that happened within a couple of, maybe three weeks after what happened. i have seen the tapes. i've read the cables. i have a pretty good sense of what happened in benghazi. i will say there is one question. we have four employees at the state department that were very much involved in what went wrongful they're on leave. they're being paid atful pay. one of my questions is when is there going to be some kind of accountability.
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i'm not the type to ever be on a witch-hunt but this is odd. we do know there were problems. when is there going to be some degree of accountability. it's taken a long time. so that would be one of the questions i would have. >> rose: but my impression is that secretary clinton, then secretary clinton said whatever t was on my watch. whatever happened, i'm responsible. >> well, i know, but there are four people who were directly vocced. and i think there are actually others that haven't been necessarily isolated for reasons i'm not sure i understand. but-- but you know there were four people that were directly involved. 9 arbinted out many frailities. and again, these people are at home collecting full pay. i guess some kind of resolve whether, you know f there wasn't really any culpability there, then fine let's say it. if there was, then obviously some kind of, you know,
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reprimand srx should be occurring in that regard. but otherwise, charlie, for what it's worth, i've had the privilege of going through in a secure, in classside setting, all of the cables. i do think there were clearly stated security concerns that came from-- that came from our great ambassador there. obviously those were not met. i don't understand why the sst team was sent away. but look, i do think we've litigated this. there's more to come. i know the house has hearings this week. charlie, at the end of the day, i think what we really need to look at as americans is when we have these expeditionary efforts that are taking place in places like libya where there is no real government, you have militias that are controlling the country, how are we going to go about that in the future. to me what we should take away from this is the world has changed. we need to think about our involvement in places like libya and possibly syria down the road, from a
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diplomatic standpoint. we need to understand some of the security issues that are there. we probably need to think through. and i just interviewed today the new ambassador going to libya on this very topic of how we deal with these expeditionary efforts. and we keep-- and we keep our foreign services-- surface officers safe. i means that's what we need to be focused on now. >> rose: let me go to golf is it true your handicap is like between 2 and 3? >> my handicap is ochsly a 5.8, okay. at one time, charlie, it was kind of low. this job has sort of impeded my ability to play much. i play about 10 or 12 rounds a year. but i would sure enjoy played yesterday with the president. i really did. it was a great day. and the hole-in-one that chambliss had at 11 put an exclamation point on it. but it was a wonderful day
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and i enjoyed being there. >> rose: do you think you understand the president more because you played 18 holes of golf with him? >> you know, believe it or not, charlie. it is kind of interesting. i lived almost a lifetime in business, as you know, before being in the senate. and a lot of people in the business world say you know, you really get to understand someone when you play against them in golf. because it's an honor sport. you really can get to know a person. believe it or not, i do think it helps get to know the person. and i think relationships are important in all aspects of life. certainly they're important when you are trying to govern a great nation like ours. >> rose: okay, the question is do you think that the president has not been able to do more of what he intended to do, wanted to do, because he did not reach out, whether it is playing golf or having dinner or spending more time in person to person communication with republicans and democrats? >> i don't think there's any
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question that if the president were sitting in this chair, which he's not, we tell you that look, you know, you learn a lot when you've been president for four years. he's entering his secretary term. i would think he would say to you that maybe one of the mistakes he's made over the last four years is not being engaged. but i will tell you something that is even more important, charlie, we have 535 folks between the house and senate. and if you look back at historians, i think presidential historians will tell you that nothing, no big problem in our country has ever been solved without presidential leadership. so i do think the executive branch obviously is very important in solving especially the fiscal issues that our nation faces. i think having relationships with the legislative branch when you're in the executive branch is very important. it's highly noticeable, charlie, what is happening right now. both with the president w his new chief of staff, his economic folks.
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there's a huge difference in just the interaction. and look, as you know, charlie, you can't solve any problem in life without communication. so i look at this as something that is very much needed. and candidly very much appreciated it. because i want us to solve our nations problem os. this is a great nation. and especially this fiscal issue. it's holding us down. it's hurting the standard of living with all americans and certainly hurting our standing all around the world. >> rose: okay, let me ask you this then. the question of what the president was prepared to do on entitlements which you have made a big case about, did that come up during the 18 holes of golf? >> so charlie, we agreed that-- . >> rose: oh, no, don't tell me that. >> on any discussionss. but let me tell you this. i'm actually going to a meeting right now. >> rose: yeah. >> as soon as we leave this interview, with 20 republican senators, to talk about that very issue and how we pite go forward.
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i did appreciate the president putting in his budget chain cpi it is watered down a little bit from where bob corker would want it to be. but i think the president understands that republicans want to see a 7 a-- 75 year actuary-- actuarial soundness for social security and medicare. i think most american was like to see it and i think everybody understands that entitlement reform is one of the two key blocks to solving this linked with progrowth tax reform. >> rose: let me ask that one more time. i can imagine a scenario in which you might say mr. president, before you line up for that, for that pitch on to the green and maybe hold it out, i have this one question for you. you know, if-- if you did this i'm prepared to do this. did that conversation come up, that kind of conversation? >> you can tell me that without disclosing -- >> let me just say that we obviously talk about some of the big issues of the day.
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i've already had that conversation eye-to-eye with the president. and i had it at the first dinner in front of 11 other republican senators. i've had it one-on-one with him a couple of timeses achieve of staff. and let me just tell you what that is. again, if we can get that actuarial soundness within with entitlement reform so that we know we've dealt with that issue for future generations, i am more than glad to look at tax reform that generates revenues to help solve that problem. so those are the two links that have to happen. those are the two pieces that are very important. i hope we'll accomplish that for the american people sometime over the next three or four months. and i hope what we will do, be in 9 position to do once that's done, charlie s to focus again on the greatness of this country. and to put those pieces in place to make sure that generations who come after us have an even better standard of living than where we are today. that's not the view people are sharing today but that's
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we need to go. >> rose: senator, i've taken 30 minutes of your time. thank you so much. >> thank you. charlie, always a pleasure, thank you. >> rose: back in a moment. stay with us. 2013 marks the birthday-- 200th birthday of richard wagner n celebration the opera is presenting the ring psyche fell full. wagner encompasses a complete universe of god, men and mythic creatures in four epic operas. joining me fabio losei, principal conductor of the metropolitan opera and jay hunter morris, is he is the hero. here is a look at them performing together. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪. >> rose: tell me about the ring cycle and why it's so admired? >> because probably the most complicated and longest opera ever written. we are talking not about four different operas but about one work in four parts. and this is a compendium of the art of writing music. of writing an opera. it's probably the most perfect and complex opera ever written. >> rose: and therefore your favorite? >> it is. because it's so, it is
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really a challenge for us, for musicians, for conductors, especially, to approach such a work. you have to build a big bow over 15, 16 hours of music. and this is actually essential in the process of making music. >> rose: tell me about broom hilda? >> well wa, do say about broom hilda. i think i'll probably spend the rest of my career trying to discover every facet of broomhilda's personality. and the challenge in playing her is much like what fabio said, in suspending a whole four evens. and when we pete broomhilda she is a bit of a tom boy and very much dedicated to her father. then we see her meet siegfried and fall in love and become human. and we see her go through the end of the cycle and basically be the hero,
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really ends up being the great hearsto of the piece. she is challenging to sing. there are some moments that are more so than others. what we just heard is what i would call a scary moment. the length is really daunting. and i just don't think that i would ever really learn everything about her. >> rose: how many times have you performed her. >> well, she, i've done broomhilda only at the metropolitan opera. and so a complete run of siegfried val kerry and-- we did two cycles last year, i thinkment and now another two this season. so not a lot, really. >> rose: but you are continuing to understand her and learn about her and bring something new and different to portraying her. >> i try to, yes. i think that i feel a little bit more settled this season than maybe last. a little bit more confident.
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but-- . >> rose: and does that make you better? >> some nights yes. the thing of it is it's live performance. and so a lot of factors figure into how a performance goes whether it's that you are feeling a little bit off. that you-- you know, it is allergy season. what kind of energy we're getting from the organize tra and from the audience. and audience absolutely participates in a performance and we can feel when they are really attentive and when they are shuffling about. >> rose: you can feel that. >> yeah, wagner audiences are pretty quiet. >> rose: when you hear they are shuffling about, how do you change your-- or dow change your performance. >> i stop singing and yell at them and tell them to be quiet, of course. you're at the opera, shhh, no, no. >> rose: and siegfried. >> what do you want to know about him. tell me who he is other than her lover. >> he's supposed to be 17 years old and fearless. and a demi god.
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that's kind of tough to play when you're in my physical condition and my age but man, it's fun. you know look, the thing about siegfried is, you know, it's widely considered to be one of the most challenging and difficult roles to sing. and i have a lot of evidence to support that. you know, there's a lot of high notes. and as you can imagine those are a big challenge when you sing, you know, 200 of them in one night. but mostly the music is really complex. and it's hard to learn. i mean that was the biggest challenge for me. i feel like i'm going to be learning it, like debi said, the rest of my life. the little things. the colors. the accents, the different dynamics that he requires of us. and that go with the emotion and the part. but listen, it's the greatest thrill in the world. i mean last night i got to sing, you know, the greatest
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music. a lot of really smart people think it's some of the greatest music that's ever been written with the greatest orchestra. these colleagues and this conductor? it's thrilling, man. i feel like i'm the luckiest guy in the world and just enjoying every second of it. >> rose: what did wagner want for the ring cycle? >> i think as every composer writing an important opera because he start thinking now i am writing something crucial, something very important. >> rose: yeah. >> is to put a mirror for us to see ourselve. and all great operas and generally all great artworks are a mirror for us. what do we see in them which we can understand ourselves. and the ring is important because it's about politics. it's about love. it's about power. it's about relationships between family members.
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it's about relationships between a circle of associates, the gods. so it's something-- . >> rose: aren't all great operas about those ideas? >> yes, actually yes. it's always love. it's always politics, jealousy. >> rose: revenge. >> power, betrayal. and the better you can do that, the better we can see ourselves. >> rose: it's not just op ra, it's novel its and everything else. shakespeare is about all of that too. >> exactly. >> rose: now is it robert la page, metzer yelp said, he was our friend at this table, he may be the first direct tore execute what wagner wanted to see on stage. what is that? what did wagner want to see on stage? and why does robert execute that? >> i don't know. but i know that robert takes literally what wagner and his assistants wrote in the scores. and this is a good part.
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and the even better part of the work of robert la page is that he tries to make us see things we are we have never seen on stage. this three dimensional projections. video protections and how this famous or infamous machine moves. this is very interesting because he uses only one machine to do everything. to do sheep, to do horses, to do forest in zeig freed to do that underworld. it's so fascinating. you have really breathtaking moments in this work. >> rose: now dow have a different vision than james levine. >> well, we are different men. we are different musicians. >> rose: so therefore -- >> therefore absolutely.
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i admire jimmy and i have always been an admirer of his recordings and of his concerts and performances. and i would like to be like he is. but i am not. i'm different. >> what does a director demand of you? >> well, i think especially in the case of robert, he relied a lot on us to come up with what we imagine would be happening. he is very visual artist as one can clearly see by watching this production. he was really good at finding things that came out of us sort of organically that would just kind of happen in the course of a rehearsal. and he would lock into that. i found him to be very helpful. and a very calm sort of soul which is very helpful. as fabio. and that's-- well --
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>> a calm soul. >> well, just a sort of spirit of, yeah, being at es and not making demands of you when are you taking on the most daunting role of your lifetime. you know what is involved. so to be surrounded by people who aren't, you know, demanding that i sound like-- nelson or you know, so it was a challenge, doing your first broomhilda at the metropolitan opera in a production by robert lapga. >> rose: you take that serious. >> no you don't mess with that too much. >> rose: don't mess with that. >> no, no. >> rose: how did you get the role? >> the gods were smiling. >> they were. >> they sure were. you know what, a colleague and a good friend of mine got sick. you know, we're all only human. and lucky for me over the last four years, i have spent a good bit of that time as the understudy. and it was such a blessing. let me tell you about
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siegfried. i did not, when-- it was first offered to me, you know, you look at this. and there's a million words. and they're all in german. and you might not know this but i am not a native gir manspeaker. i did not grow up in germany. so i look at this and it's massive. and it's-- all these hard singing and high notes, and complex. and i didn't want to do it. and-- . >> rose: you were scared to do it. >> i was terrified. i was terrified. it's too big. it's too big. it's too long. it's too dauntsing. but you know what, i didn't have any other options at the time. and i had a baby on the way. and you know, if i wanted to keep singing, i had to learn siegfried. so luckily i had a few champions along the way that said you know what, i will let you be the understudy. and i got to sit out and watch professionals do it. for a production in seattle and in los angeles and in san francisco as well. and so you know, i got to
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prepare in my mind. it was so valuable for me to watch seasoned pros, gentlemen that have done the role for years and see what they bring to it and i sat out there in the audience and i thought you know what, when i get my chance this is who i want him to be. you don't get to rehearse much as the understudy. but you know, the mental game, and the emotional and spiritual game of the ring is so important. and i spent, i spent a few years waiting for the day that peter gelb would walk up to me and say are you jay? i said yes, sir, i am. and he said can you really do this? >> can you do it. >> we just had a few days. we only had two reshers-- rehearsals left. he said you can do that. irsaid yes, i can do it he gave me a shot. he gave me a chance. listen, i would have bet the farm that he would have gone with somebody seasoned, with somebody that had done the role a lot, with a big name. >> and who would that be.
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>> it's not a-- with a lot of names on it. >> there are a couple of guys out there, there are people out there. but he gave me a chance. and you know what, its he been great. >> rose: i don't want to embarrass you. but what does he bring to it now that we've set this up? >> he brings an immediatesy to the understanding of the role. and he doesn't think siegfried, he is zig freechlted he looks like siegfried. and he sings with such an enthusiasm and like siegfried should be. and so many part is good singing, good looking, good doing siegfried. and being siegfried is the addition of those parts. so he's perfect. >> rose: alex ross of the new yorker who has written about this said hitler was one of the million youth enfatuated with wagner, somewhere anti-semitic, some
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were socialists, communists, democrats, femist, early gay rights advocates, rose khrushians, mystics, and members of every other group. you know, does this all mean that wagner was this most difficult figure to figure out. >> it's one of the most difficult figures. i think i couldn't be a friend of richard wagner because he was a very-- . >> rose: all those things i just read. >> very controversial man. but i admire his art. and i tend to separate the man and the art he produces. >> rose: because he was mostly anti-semitic or perceiveds being that? >> all of this. >> rose: everything. >> everything. >> rose: all of that stuff in terms of what he seemed to admire. and yet he created this extraordinary, with all those-- views and opinions. >> yeah, yeah. well, something we cannot explain that is such a terrible and really not
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sympathetic man could write such music which goes directly to your heart. >> rose: and you have said you want to get away from the heavy german aspect of it. >> yes. because i think this is a bad tradition which came later. and which is not in the personality of the making music of wagner. i am pretty sure about it. >> rose: what is the physical demand of this? the physical demand? >> well, the machine as we call her, i would say it's a she, you know, because she's very diva like. >> yes. >> rose: in her behavior sometimes. >> yes. >> it takes some getting used to. the first days that we were on it, it feels, it has some movement to it so you feel like maybe it's going to give and we really didn't know. so it took some convincing
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to assure us that we were all very safe. and. >> rose: some assurances that you were all safe. >> well, yeah. i think so. if you are standing on a stage or-- and there are planks whipping around and you're, you know, it's something to be careful about. and the met was very cautious about security. and there are so many mechanisms involved that if figure goes wrong it stops. >> rose: because this is such a complex set. >> exactly, yeah. there are some pretty steep inclines, really jay, i think, has to deal with it more than anybody in the cycle. >> rose: how do you do that? >> i love it. that's how i do it. i love it. you know what, i mean physically, my guy is supposed to be 17. and so i try to for at least those few hours, i try to move quickly and easily and i jump around on these ankles and get up off the floor. quicker than i ever do in real life. but listen, it's an incredible thing what he's done there i mean it was two
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or three performances into our run that i realized as i walked in on the sleeping broomhilda, that if i i kicked the leaves that were projected on to this stage, they moved. they scattered before me. and one night i realized, you know, i've got a digital bird. the song bird is my little friend that guides me through the forest and as i fed this digital projection, a seed from my pocket, it responded to me. and i asked the designers, like how, is that true? did i imagine that? and it also looks like when this bird, this digital projection sings along with the voice of the young soprano o the mouth is moving in sync with her singing. is that possible? and it is. and that's what they've gone. they rigged the set with ultraviolet red, ultraviolet
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lights. somehow they programmed these leaves and this bird to be responsive to our movements. you know, and it was just a few years ago that we were standing singing in front of painted flat sets. you know that get rolled on. and all of a sudden we're out there, you know, interacting with this other world. and it's amazing. i love it. i love it when i'm getting to sit out in the audience, and the other operas and watch the pictures that they make. and it's good stuff. >> rose: what's the importance of the -- >> well, it just brings the characterization of all of the characters and the-- if you have the time to study them, you can hear in music these mottifs. and certainly fabio would know more. >> you read the thoughts of the person on stage. >> yeah. >> because even when they are not singing, so not
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saying anything, you read their thoughts because the music comes from the previous opera or for a situation we had three hours ago. and so they are thinking about it. this is the way wagner works. >> rose: this is about peter, what is peter trying to accomplish with the metropolitan opera? >> i think he tried to bring the metropolitan opera and generally the opera. >> rose: to a new worldwide audience. >> to not only to a new-- to a new time. >> rose: right. >> so to get rid of the painted screen, flat screens behind us and to present it like people are used to see movies or theatre or broadway. and this is in my opinion a very important path to follow. >> i think-- said that peter gelb live in hd is his capital achievement.
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>> well, what he did with hd broadcasting is fantastic. because he took a huge risk at the beginning where nobody knew it's going to work. it's going not to work. there will be audience for it and it's going very, very, very well. internationally. >> you, you've had a longer career than many. >> i have. >> i know. how come? what have you done? how is it that you have been able to, what is it? if you had a 10 year career that would have been norm, wouldn't it? >> yes. >> rose: you had 20. >> i have, yes. much of it is that i have been very lucky. and i am very blessed. and i didn't grow up in a household that knew anything about opera. but i loved to sing.
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and that it ended up being opera was just kind of hap stance. my first voice teacher happened to have been a opera singer. had she been a musical theatre singer maybe things would have gone a different direction. but i just kind of put one foot in front of another. i have had very, very good management who understood the progression of a voice like mine as a dramatic soprano, you don't come out of college in that-- as we say. it takes many years of experience on stage. and i'm lucky in that i'm a dramatic soprano because you get to the bulk of your rep irtoire with 20 years of experience. you don't sing it, you wouldn't sing broomhilda at age 25 or even 30 unless you were some force of nature. >> rose: well, some say you are a force of nature. >> well. >> she is. >> thank you. >> rose: how long does it run? >> how many performance do
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we have. >> rose: yeah. >> two more cycles. >> rose: so. >> two and a half weeks. >> rose: and then what happens? >> and then we wait for a revival in the next years. >> rose: in the next years. bring together the same people. >> probably. >> its same people we will see t depends when. >> rose: if you are lucky. >> rose: you would all want to come back. >> sure. >> oh yeah. maybe not if it's 15 years from now. >> rose: thank you very much. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: pleasure to you have here. thank you, thank you. >> thanks. >> rose: thank you for joining us. we'll see you next time. captioning sponsored by
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rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh an american express. additional funding propered by these funders:
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a kqed television production. >> it's sort of like old fisherman's wharf. it reminds me of old san francisco. >> and you'd be a little bit like jean valjean, with the teeth, whatever. >> and worth the calories, the cholesterol, and the heart attack you might have. >> it's like an adventure, you know? you gotta put on your miner's helmet. >> it reminds me of oatmeal with a touch of wet dog. >> i did. inhaled it. >> p