There can be very little left to say about Wagner that has not already been said by a thousand commentators in as many different ways. But the experience of seeing and hearing Die Walküre at The Proms last night left me physically and emotionally exhausted. For the first time at a Wagner opera, I was following the libretto in English, and found myself to be sucked in to the emotional turmoil surrounding the characters.
The whole thing is absurd of course. The plot is melodramatic, the language stilted (the German archaic), and the sexual chemistry highly questionable – twins, Sigmund and Sieglinde, embarking on a passionate affair, their son (Siegfried) eventually to have a one-night-stand with their sister, Brünnhilde (all sired by Wotan, king of the gods, whose ‘wife’ Fricka, insists that Siegmund must die to atone for his incest and adultery). And yet at the end of the first act when the reunited twins embark on their incestuous liaison, I was too overcome with the emotional tension to speak.
What was really interesting though, was the fact that the famous Ride of the Valkyries, the most well-known piece of music in the entire Ring cycle, was almost an anticlimax. The conductor, Daniel Barenboim, had to restrain the enormous orchestra so that the singers were not overwhelmed.
I almost can’t wait for Sunday for the final opera Götterdämmerung, Twilight of the Gods. I just hope that the weather is a little cooler.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs