Götterdämmerung MetHD Review – Conclusion of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle

 

It seemed like old home week as I settled into my comfortable seat at CinéArts @ Palo Alto Square Theatre at 8:55 AM Saturday morning, February 11, 2012 to begin six hours of immersion in wonderful music and cosmic story-telling.  Sara, Letha Ann, Bruce, and Ellen were with me, as they  had been for most of the first three installments of The Ring of the Nibelung: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried

Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde and Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried

In the coming six hours we would see several familiar faces on the giant screen in front of us: stars Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, the same role she played in Siegfried and Die Walküre, and Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried, the role he’d stepped into at the last minute in Siegfried

Hans-Peter König as Hagen



Although Hans-Peter König played the newcomer Hagen, we’d seen him in all three of the previous episodes: Fafner the Giant in Das Rheingold, Hunding in Die Walküre, and Fafner the Dragon in Siegfried

Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried & Wendy Bryn Harmer as Gutrune



Wendy Bryn Harmer, Hagen’s sister Gutrune, had also played Freia (Das Rheingold) and the Valkyrie Ortlinde (Die Walküre). 

Eric Owens as Alberich & Hans-Peter König as Hagen



Eric Owens as Alberich the Dwarf is quite familiar by now, having previously been in Das Rheingold and Siegfried.  The brief interview with him was fascinating.  When he stands up straight he becomes quite a different and much nicer person. 

Tamara Mumford as Flosshilde, Jennifer Johnson Cano as Wellgunde, and Erin Morley as Woglinde



Finally, two of the three Rhine Maidens had been in Das Rheingold last year: Tamara Mumford as Flosshilde and Jennifer Johnson Cano as Wellgunde – although last year she was just listed as Jennifer Johnson.

Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde and Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried in the final scene of Siegfried



We had last seen our heroes Siegfried and Brünnhilde clasped in each others arms and about to retire to their conjugal bed in Brünnhilde’s cave to consummate their “marriage”. 

The three Norns (Maria Rudner, Elizabeth Bishop, and Heidi Melton) weave the web of life



In case you had missed or forgotten the three preceding Ring operas, Götterdämmerung opens with a two-scene Prologue.  First, Erda’s daughters, the three Norns (Maria Rudner, Elizabeth Bishop, and Heidi Melton) singing a brief synopsis in a delightful mix of solos and close harmony.

Having been brought up to date, we return to the story in Scene 2 to find the two lovers emerging from their cave on a beautiful morning.  Enough time has passed for Brünnhilde to impart all of her wisdom and magic to Siegfried, but we have no clue (and no need-to-know) how much time has elapsed.  It might have been many years and countless adventures later, or it might have been a crash course and the coming adventure will be his first.

Siegfried hasn’t changed a bit.  He’s still as brash, self-confident, and naïve as ever.  But Brünnhilde!  Anna Russell really summed up the change in her: she belted a few bars of the Valkyrie’s flight song and followed with a phrase from today’s opening love duet, remarking, “Marriage has sure taken the ginger out of her.” (Click Here for some youtube videos of Anna Russell on the Ring Cycle)

Brünnhilde sends Siegfried off on his fatal quest



It’s soon made clear that they have happily settled into a “normal” routine of married life – hubby goes off to his job in the morning and wifey stays home and tidies up the cave.  Only in this case Siegfried’s job is being a hero so he goes off looking for an opportunity to kill some baddies and/or rescue a damsel in distress and/or help a good guy out of his difficulties, etc.  He may be gone a week, a month, a year – whatever it takes – leaving Brünnhilde alone in their aerie retreat, still protected by the magic ring of fire.

Eventually Siegfried’s adventure will be successfully concluded, and he’ll come home for a bit of R and R.  Brünnhilde will bask in his reflected glory as he tells his latest tale of derring-do, and they’ll make beautiful music together.  Not exactly my idea of marital bliss, but whatever turns you on . . . 

L to R: Gunther (Iain Paterson), Hagen (Hans-Peter König) & Gutrune (Wendy Bryn Harmer),



However, this idyllic sequence is about to be shattered.  Meet the Gibichs: Gunther (Iain Paterson) a legitimate son-of-a-Gibich, his equally legitimate sister Gutrune (Wendy Bryn Harmer), and their half-brother Hagen (Hans-Peter König), the result of a rape by Alberich (Eric Owens) the Dwarf.  The legits are pretty stupid and weak-willed and are easily manipulated by Hagen.  Hagen –  who was conceived only because Alberich felt himself growing old and wanted a son to carry on his hatred of the Gods.  Although presumably dead by now, Alberich’s ghost communicates with Hagen in his dreams and fans his hatred – which is hardly necessary.  Hagen hates everyone: the Gods, people, his father, and himself.

The three Gibiches (ashore) greet Siegfried and his horse Grane



Well, no sooner have we met this delightful trio and heard Hagen’s diabolical plot, than Siegfried’s horn is heard in the distance, announcing to all and sundry that a hero has come looking for wrongs to be righted.  And here I have a question.  Why does Siegfried encounter Hagen?

(a)   pure coincidence so that Wagner can tell a good story ?

(b)   because there is a cosmic law that there can be no “lived happily ever after” – sort of a form of entropy?

(c)    because the world is a battle-ground between good and evil, and evil engineered the meeting?

 As a description of real life, I’d vote for (a), but this is opera-land.  My opinion is that Wagner purposefully left his choice unclear and left it to each of us listeners to make our choice between (b) and (c).  I choose (c).  What about you?

 And so the story plays itself out.  A little slowly, perhaps, but with Wagner’s music, Voigt’s singing and acting, and memorable performances by Morris and König who cares. 

 

It was  close to 3 pm when  Siegfried’s funeral pyre was finally lit, “Everything burned up” (Anna Russell, again), and the Rhine maidens had reclaimed their gold.

Brünnhilde rides Grane into Siegfried’s funeral pyre



I left the theatre exhausted but thoroughly satisfied.

Alas, the Met has still not scheduled any Ring encores this season.  I have heard rumors that they are planning to offer them this summer, but nothing definite as to what or when.  When, as, and if I hear anything, I’ll let you know.

A bit of sad news to share before I sign off.  Tenor Charles Anthony passed away at his home in Tampa, Florida, on February 15, 2012.  His first role at the Met was in 1954 as the Simpleton in Boris Godunov and in the next  56 years at the Met he sang 111 roles in 69 operas for a total of 2,928 performances.

Charles Anthony in Turandot, 2010; photo by Marty Sohl



Anthony’s final role was as the Emperor in Turandot in 2010 – a performance that I was fortunate enough to see on MetHD.  A high point of my total opera experience over the years was his interview with Renée Fleming.  Click here if you’d like to read my review of that performance.  Or click on Met Mourns to read the Met’s news release.



Photos, except as noted: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

 

The Metropolitan Opera

CinéArts at Palo Alto Square

Live in HD

3000 El Camino Real

http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/liveinhd/LiveinHD.aspx

Palo Alto, CA  94306

Photos, except as noted: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

1-800-FANDANGO Exp Code 914#

 

Götterdämmerung

 

CONDUCTOR

Fabio Luisi

PRODUCTION

Robert Lepage

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

Neilson Vignola

SET DESIGNER

Carl Fillion

COSTUME DESIGNER

François St-Aubin

LIGHTING DESIGNER

Etienne Boucher

VIDEO IMAGE ARTIST

Lionel Arnould

 

 

First Norn

Maria Rudner

Second Norn

Elizabeth Bishop

Third Norn

Heidi Melton

Brünnhilde

Deborah Voigt

Siegfried

Jay Hunter Morris

Gunther

Iain Paterson

Hagen

Hans-Peter König

Gutrune

Wendy Bryn Harmer *

Waltraute

Waltraud Meier

Alberich

Eric Owens

Woglinde

Erin Morley *

Wellgunde

Jennifer Johnson Cano *

Flosshilde

Tamara Mumford *

stage horn solo

Erik Ralske

* Graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program

 

Top of Page

Join Splash Magazines
Feature Article

Tempflow™ and Tempur-Pedic® Reviews - What 35 Hours of Research Uncovered

Want Your Business to Male a Splash