classical music, Das Rheingold, Der Ring des Nibelungen, German composers, german opera, opera, Richard Wagner, Star Wars, the lord of the rings, the Met, the metropolitan opera, the Ring Cycle, Wagner
Something you may not know about me is that I’m a huge opera fan. I love classical music, and that’s basically all I listen to. And while some think opera is boring, I do not. At all. I’ve seen many operas at the Met, City Opera, Santa Fe Opera Festival, and Seattle Opera. By the way, I’m going to the Santa Fe Opera Festival with my family in a week, and will probably post about it.
Anyway, I really enjoy Wagner, and as you may know, the Met has a new production of it that they started last year, I believe. It’s very different from the old production, which I loved, and I haven’t actually seen any of the new production’s operas live. But my dad borrowed a DVD from the library, and I watched the first opera, Das Rheingold. The set is so interesting; it’s a giant monstrosity, and while some of the transitions are brilliant, it can be kind of distracting from the music.
Here’s a very quick summary for Das Rheingold, by the way: “In the depths of the Rhine, the three Rhinemaidens guard the Rhinegold, a treasure of immeasurable value. The Nibelung dwarf Alberich is dazzled by the sight of it. The girls explain that whoever wins the gold and forges it into a ring will gain power over the world, but must first renounce love. Frustrated by his unsuccessful attempts to catch one of the girls, Alberich curses love and steals the gold. Wotan, lord of the gods, is reproached by his wife Fricka: he has promised to give Freia, goddess of youth, to the giants Fasolt and Fafner in return for their building a fortress for the gods. When the giants demand their reward, Loge, the god of fire, suggests an alternative payment: the ring Alberich has forged from the Rhinegold, and his other treasures. The giants agree, and Wotan and Loge leave for the Nibelungs’ underground home. Here they meet Alberich’s brother Mime, who has forged the Tarnhelm, a magic helmet that transforms its wearer into any shape. Mime tells Wotan and Loge how Alberich has enslaved the Nibelungs to work for him. Alberich appears and mocks the gods. Loge asks for a demonstration of the Tarnhelm and Alberich turns himself into a dragon, then into a toad, which the gods capture. Dragged to the surface, the dwarf is forced to summon the Nibelungs to heap up the gold. Wotan wrests the ring from his finger. Shattered, Alberich curses the ring: ceaseless worry and death shall be the destiny of its bearer. The giants return and agree to accept the gold. The gods have to give up even the Tarnhelm, but Wotan refuses to part with the ring. Erda, goddess of the earth, appears and warns him that possession of it will bring about the end of the gods. Wotan reluctantly gives the ring to the giants, and Alberich’s curse claims its first victim as Fafner kills his brother in a dispute over the treasure. As the voices of the Rhinemaidens are heard, lamenting the loss of their gold, the gods walk toward their new home, which Wotan names Valhalla.”
It’s kind of based off of Norse myths. Wotan is Odin, Loge is Loki, etc…
Anyway, I don’t have much to say, but I do think the music is beautiful no matter what the production is like. I have to say, though, that the old Met production (a scene below) still remains my favorite. I have seen Seattle’s production live, and it was very good too.
At the end of Das Rheingold in Otto Schenk’s older production.
The newer Met production (above) which as you can see, is very different.
Seattle opera’s production.
God, I hate Wotan (above) in the new production. That’s not what he’s supposed to look like!
Das Rheingold is kind of a prologue to the following three operas, which get progressively longer: Die Walkure, Siegfried, and Der Gotterdamerung. I probably spelled at least one of those wrong.
Really, the Ring Cycle bears many, many similarities to the Lord of the Rings; Tolkien drew heavily off of Wagner. Das Rheingold, like The Hobbit, sets the stage and is technically not part of the other three works that follow. The central part of the story is a beautiful and incredibly powerful ring that destroys whoever bears it. And the only way to destroy the ring is to throw it into the place where it come from (whether that be the Rhine or Mordor). The music from Star Wars also drew heavily off of Wagner (although it’s nothing in comparison to his music), so keep that in mind the next time you watch it.
I’ll probably do more posts about the music I love. Sorry this one wasn’t very substantial. I realize that not everyone likes Wagner, and I can understand that, but I certainly do.