Voilà! I drew an entire family tree of the Ring Cycle! If any of you are confused about character relationships, plot twists, or incest, have no fear! My drawing will help you get over your confusion and enjoy Wagner’s masterpiece at ease. Enjoy!
Voilà! I drew an entire family tree of the Ring Cycle! If any of you are confused about character relationships, plot twists, or incest, have no fear! My drawing will help you get over your confusion and enjoy Wagner’s masterpiece at ease. Enjoy!
I could not get this out in words, I had to vent. Opera audiences are terrible as of late. We need to reinforce the discipline that should be found in your seat at the opera house. Hear about my many awful experiences due to the carelessness and ignorance of other opera-goers.
Today was another amazing day at the Metropolitan Opera! I attended the matinée of Siegfried at the Met with my Dad, and my Mom was in the pit playing under Maestro Luisi. The cast included Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried, Gerhard Siegel as Mime, Mark Delavan as the Wanderer, Eric Owens as Alberich, Hans-Peter König as Fafner, Lisette Oropesa as the Forest Bird, Meredith Arwady as Erda, and Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde. It was a fabulous performance with some fun in-between backstage action.
Photo: Me and Jay Hunter Morris, who was Siegfried this afternoon! I went backstage during the second intermission to the Met Cafeteria, where all the singers hang out. He came through carrying a coke and an apple, and positively glowed at the sight of my horns. He said he was happy to take a photo!
Jay Hunter Morris sang and played a fun, boyish, young Siegfried…and he MADE IT! So many Siegfrieds have dreadfully crashed and burned before Act III even begins, not this guy. Mr. Morris has stamina and still had a full-tank by the end of the opera. He was entertaining to watch as well, especially around Mime. In the first act, Mr. Morris actually started to mouth the words of Mime’s lecture, making it look like he had heard it billions of times before. It was hilarious and I laughed out loud! I also felt as if he was more comfortable in the role of Siegfried than last year, but I am sure that many singers feel that way when returning to a role that they have already premiered.
Gerhard Siegel was a hilarious Mime. A little more toned-down than last year, it was still fun to watch. His scene with Mark Delavan was hilarious, especially with the height difference between the two. Delavan sang a powerful Wanderer, more powerful than his two previous Wotans. At some points Delavan was covered by the orchestra, especially in his scene with Erda in Act III. Other than that, he was fantastic!
Photo: Me and Eric Owens, the Alberich of the afternoon! He came back to the Cafeteria after Act II to hang out, so we chatted for a bit. I actually know him through my Mom, because he and my Mom both studied at Temple University and they both studied oboe! How about that? He loved my horns by the way…
Eric Owens played a selfish, frustrated Alberich. He did not want Wotan messing his plans up again! His voice has grown so well into the role of Alberich, along with his acting. He is a joy and is positively hilarious not only offstage, but onstage as well, and brings that happiness to the audience.
Hans-Peter König played the drowsy Fafner, hilariously passing off Siegfried’s threat saying, “I’ll devour him”. His deep voice rang through the house and created a resonance. Lisette Oropesa was a lovely forest bird. Her voice was light and clear, just like her Gilda. Speaking of that: She has a double-day today! She not only sang the Forest Bird today, but she is singing Gilda in Rigoletto tonight for the Saturday night show! Go her!
Meredith Arwady was a great Erda. Her voice, along with her dress, flashed all around the house. That scene of the Lepage production is beautiful. It is dark blue with shiny rocks surrounding Erda’s hideaway. Her dress is covered in black agates that reflect light all over the house. Wotan also blends well with his long white hair and….oh it’s just so beautiful!
Photo: Act III of Siegfried with Patricia Bardon (last season). Isn’t it gorgeous?!
Deborah Voigt did wonderfully as Brünnhilde. Her high notes were shot all around the house and were particularly ringing today. I believe that this performance was her best yet of her times singing Brünnhilde.
This performance of Siegfried was fantastic, even without Bryn Terfel and the others of the original cast. Having more encounters backstage was also fun. Even with my retirement from the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus, it has been a privilege and an enjoyment to still be able to go backstage at the Met. There is nothing quite like seeing Siegfried walk through the Met Cafeteria in costume, carrying an apple and a coke.
PS: I had the opportunity also to meet the cast of Dialogues des Carmelites! I got to talk to Maestro Louis Langrée and tell him that I was in La Bohème. He chided that I was wearing a beret then, not viking horns! I also got to say hello to Patricia Racette and Elizabeth Bishop! My Dad and I got to tell her how wonderful she was as Didon when she replaced Susan Graham back in the Winter. She was touched. Not only am I looking forward to my ‘Ring Cycle 2’, but I am also looking forward to seeing Dialogues des Carmelites for the first time.
As of late, the opera world has been buzzing about the Met’s revival of the Ring this month and next. It is a true masterpiece that was created by none other than Richard Wagner. It is so great, that I actually have to thank Wagner and the Ring, because both of them turned me on to opera!
Photo: Six-year-old me with my Brünnhilde hat and Ring shirt…and cowboy boots
Opera has always been a part of my life. My mother, Susan Spector, is the second oboist of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, and my father is a huge opera fan. Opera and classical music was and is always playing in my house, but I never thought I would get into it. I went to one dress rehearsal when I was four years old of Hänsel und Gretel in 2001, but I could not stay through the whole thing. At this point, I was focused on my career of becoming a dolphin-trainer at Sea World, not an opera singer.
This is how it began:
It was the Summer of 2003, I was five years old. My father was working downstairs so I just decided to wander down to his office. When I walked in the office I heard a very loud tenor forging a sword. He had on live radio broadcast of Siegfried from the Bayreuth Festival (Wagner’s own festival). I remember saying, “Daddy, what’s that?”
Not half an hour later, I was sitting upstairs with my parents watching the Metropolitan Opera DVD of the Otto Schenk production of Siegfried. I was hooked, and I could not just stop at Siegfried. Each night after that, my family and I watched the entire Ring, act by act. It was fascinating! I remember thinking that Hagen was the most evil villain that I had seen, beating out all of the evil villains in Disney Movies and the Powerpuff Girls. First Grade started and I remember not being able to stop thinking about the Ring. I would write journal entries about it. I even asked my teacher how to spell “Die Walküre“…she was helpless/speechless.
Photo: Six-year-old me dressed as Wotan
April of 2004 came bearing the Ring season, and I was going! I even got to skip a few days of school (Those were the only days I missed). My first Ring opera was Die Walküre. My mother played in the pit, and I attended it with my father and my teddy bear. I remember sitting down and people staring and whispering, “What is a six-year-old doing here?”. I loved it. My parents had organized that I could get a ride home with one of the other orchestra musicians if I was tired or bored. That did not happen. My dad said, “Do you want to stay?” and I responded saying, “I want to see Brünnhilde!”.
I could not stop smiling seeing Brünnhilde walk out on to the stage and launch her “Hojotoho”s. After seeing the DVD, she was my idol. I had even memorized her staging and lines. Jane Eaglen, who was singing Brünnhilde in 2004, walked off a different way in Act II than Hildegard Behrens did in the DVD. I whispered to my Dad that she walked off the wrong way and that “the words were wrong”. His jaw dropped to the floor.
Next was Götterdämmerung. Yes, that Götterdämmerung, the one that is six hours long. I sat through it and loved it. At one of the intermissions, I went back to the Met Cafeteria where I got to meet Alan Held who was singing Gunther. He and my mother were friends in college. He came dressed in the full Gunther costume and all. It was like meeting the Disney Princesses, but better.
Photo: Me and Alan Held backstage at the dress rehearsal of Götterdämmerung
The next day was Das Rheingold. My father and I encountered an elderly woman when we were in the audience. She tapped my dad on the shoulder and said, “Don’t you realize that this is one two and a half hour long act! How can you bring this child here?”. He sent back a great retort, “Well, she sat through six hours of Götterdämmerung yesterday so I’m sure she can handle this”. The woman sat back without saying a peep. I loved Das Rheingold. I did fall asleep for a part of it, but woke up for Donner and the Rainbow Bridge.
The last was Siegfried: The opera that had started it all. I remember actually seeing Siegfried tame the billows and bang on the sword. That part I had heard on the radio had finally come alive!
So now, here I am! I have been going to the opera ever since, and have still been fascinated by everything that I have seen. I believe my next opera was Otello, and that I was scared of seeing Desdemona choked. My dad could not understand this considering I had just seen multiple stabbings, blood, and mythical horror. The Ring has made me who I am today, an Opera Geek! Thank you to my family, Richard Wagner, and the Ring.
Photo: Me and THE RING
Yes, that’s me. Yes, I am wearing viking horns. Yes, they light up. What the heck was I doing? Going to today’s matinée of Die Walküre at the Metropolitan Opera of course!
Today I attended ‘Ring Cycle 1’ Die Walküre with my Dad, and my Mom played in the orchestra. The cast included Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Simon O’Neill as Siegmund, Martina Serafin (debut) as Sieglinde, Mark Delevan as Wotan, Hans-Peter König as Hunding, and Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, with Fabio Luisi on the podium. As I usually do at the Ring operas, I wore my viking horns. I wear them to every Ring opera except Das Rheingold, because there are no valkyries in it. I got many “Hey, nice hat!”s and “Where did you get that hat?s” and others even wanted to get their pictures taken with me. After several meet-and-greets, I went to my seat. A couple next to me greeted me and told me how much they loved my hat. Two minutes later, I was telling them the plot of Die Walküre. They had never seen it before, so when I told them that Sieglinde and Siegfried are siblings and that they fall in love with each other, they looked freaked out. You should have seen the woman’s face when I said that Sieglinde gets pregnant! It was fun explaining the plot of a Ring opera to people who were at least twice my age.
The opera was wonderful. Martina Serafin’s debut was a success. She has a gorgeous voice that will hopefully return to the Met after her next two performances of Sieglinde. Hans-Peter König outdid himself as usual, playing the unimpressed, almost comical Hunding. Act I was overall smooth except for a Siegmund exchange. Simon O’Neill had started off the performance with an announcement from Peter Gelb, saying that he had suffered from an allergic reaction but that we would still be able to sing. Well, once Sieglinde and Hunding left the stage in Act I, so did he. Out went O’Neill and in came Andrew Sritheran from Stage Right. I noticed first off that it was a different Siegmund because Sritheran was much taller. I also noticed because Sritheran was wearing Jonas Kaufmann’s Siegmund costume from when he did it last season, while O’Neill was not. He did a fine job, especially since he came in right away to sing the two “Wälse”s, “Winterstürme, and pull Nothung out of the tree. It was a light voice but a fine one.
Mark Delevan and Deborah Voigt created a loving father-daughter relationship for the audience. They created loving duets throughout the opera, and then a bitter-sweet goodbye at the end. Stephanie Blythe outdid herself. After she made her first entrance in Act II, my Dad and I whispered to each other that her voice was as solid as a rock. As Fricka, she acted desperate to be heard by him, and for him to finally obey her. Erda had come between them, and she knew it. Stephanie Blythe sang an outstanding and solid Fricka.
Now, the opera was indeed wonderful, but I experienced something in between that actually surpassed it. I got to hear the eight valkyrie sisters warm up for Act III!
Photo: Me with the eight valkyrie schwesters!
Wendy Bryn Harmer, who sang Ortlinde in today’s performance, invited me backstage to hear the valkyries warm up in Studio 203! It was an incredible experience, and a LOUD one, to hear all of the valkyries warm up together, and sing through their parts. All of them posed for a picture after they were done, and they told me that they liked my horns! This was the highlight of my day! (Thank you, Wendy).
I will be attending Die Walküre again on April 26 because I have tickets to ‘Ring Cycle 2’. I can’t wait to see it all again! HOJOTOHO!
Here is the link to my segment on WQXR: http://www.wqxr.org/#!/programs/operavore/2013/apr/06/
If you missed my segment on WQXR’s Operavore show, there is no need to fear! You can listen to it through the WQXR website (link provided above) for the next 14 days.
OperaGeek (Me in La Bohème) meets Operavore
It was amazing to actually hear my own voice on the radio. My mother listened from backstage at the Met, before she went into the pit to play Das Rheingold. I also had family, friends, and teachers listening all over the country. My father and I were at Citi Field to watch the Mets game. We listened to my WQXR segment in our seats watching batting practice, hugging each other and high-fiving (We also listened to Das Rheingold during the baseball game itself). After the segment, I got wonderful feedback via Twitter, Facebook, and Email, including email from the producer of Operavore, Elaine Warner, herself.
I would like to send a big thank you to all who follow me through my blog, Twitter, and Facebook for giving me such wonderful support. You guys are the best!
For the past few weeks I have been very excited. Why? The Ring? The baseball season? What? No! I am going to be on the radio this Saturday!!!
Photo: The Operavore logo. I am going to be on its show!
This Saturday April 6th, I am going to be featured on WQXR’s Operavore Show. I was invited to discuss how I got into opera and what my turn-on was, and also how opera can attract younger audiences and fans. The show will air on April 6th at 12:30 PM on WQXR (105.9 FM in the New York area) before the broadcast of Das Rheingold at 1 PM. The show will also feature Metropolitan Opera bass James Morris and opera blogger and critic James Jorden. I am honored to be featured on the radio and would love to share that honor with you by your listening.
If you cannot listen to WQXR or you simply are not available to listen on Saturday, there is another option. Through WQXR’s website, you can listen to archived shows for up to 14 days. The show that I will be featured on will be available for two weeks on the website, so you can listen to it there. Here is the WQXR Operavore website: http://www.wqxr.org/#!/programs/operavore/
Photo: Me recording my segment at the WQXR studio
It was an amazing experience recording in the WQXR studio. I got to know Elaine Warner, the producer of Operavore. When she called my cellphone and left a message that she was interested in doing a segment, I almost fell over because I had heard her voice on the radio for so long! She was very encouraging and gave me helpful tips on how to focus a radio audience. It was also fun to work with Naomi Lewin again, the host of the show. When I was interviewed on MetOpera Radio in March of 2007, Naomi created one of her fantastic Met-cameos for me. It has been on the air several times since I was interviewed. She is a such a creative, fun, and enthusiastic person who loves what she does.
It was a thrill for me to record on WQXR because my love of opera came through the radio (internet radio). Listen in on Saturday at 12:30 to hear the rest of my opera turn-on story and learn how young audiences can get into opera. Tune in!
The last part of the four part analysis of the characters in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is here. The grand finale, the sugar on top, the twilight of the Gods: Götterdämmerung. Let’s analyze!
Photo: A Mood Ring, the perfect way to describe the changing personalities in the Ring
The Norns: The Norns change tremendously in their scene of the opera. They change themselves and the whole plot of the opera! For years and years the Norns have spun the rope and read the past, present, and future. They give the past of when Wotan lost his eye and also when he cut down the World Ash tree for his spear. For the future, they read that Wotan will set fire to Valhalla and that the Gods will perish. Well, they do a little too much reading and tugging: The rope breaks. The Norns have changed because they have lost their control and they can no longer predict what will happen. They predict that due to the breaking of the rope, the world will end. The three sisters solemnly walk back down to their mother: Erda.
Photo: The Norns (Arthur Rackham)
Brünnhilde: Act 1: Brünnhilde has become used to her life as a human housewife. She sends Siegfried down the Rhine on an adventure and stays home. How can Brünnhilde stay away from adventure? Later on in the act, we revisit her valkyrie life. Waltraute, Brünnhilde’s sister, returns to the rock to tell her how Wotan has changed and that the Gods are dying. She begs Brünnhilde to give back the Ring, but she refuses, as it proves the love that Siegfried has for her. Now, we see the stubborn Brünnhilde that we did in Die Walküre, but we also see a change. Brünnhilde always sided with Wotan and took all of his orders. Now, she refuses to give the Ring back to the Rhinemaidens, even though it would help Wotan and the other Gods. Waltraute leaves and Brünnhilde is visited by Gunther (really Siegfried in disguise). He claims her as his wife and takes the Ring from her. We now return to Brünnhilde’s life as a woman controlled by men.
Brünnhilde: Act 2: Brünnhilde has reluctantly become Gunther’s wife. They will wed at the same ceremony as Siegfried and Gutrune. Wait, Siegfried?! Brünnhilde recognizes the Ring on his finger and accuses him of seducing her, not Gunther. He has no idea what is going on due to the potion that Gutrune gave him. Siegfried swears on Hagen’s spear that Brünnhilde’s accusations are false, while she swears that they are true. Later on, Brünnhilde, Hagen, and Gunther have all gathered to commiserate about Siegfried. They all agree that Siegfried must die.
Brünnhilde: Act 3: Siegfried has been slain by Hagen and taken back to the Gibichung Palace. After accusations against other characters and more killing, Brünnhilde enters. She commands a funeral pyre to be built for Siegfried. She takes the Ring off of Siegfried’s finger and tells the Rhinemaidens to take it from her ashes. She also tells Wotan’s ravens to return to Valhalla. With the Ring and aback Grane, Brünnhilde rides into the fire. The world has been redeemed.
Photo: Brünnhilde in the Immolation Scene (Arthur Rackham)
Brünnhilde slowly returns to her usual self in Götterdämmerung. At the beginning, she is a wife and a regular human being, and she also refuses to do anything to help Wotan and the Gods. By the end, she knows that her duty by Wotan is to do the work to redeem the world. By giving the Ring back to the Rhinemaidens, the world is redeemed. She finally returns to her life as a valkyrie because she follows orders from Valhalla and helps Wotan and the Gods.
Siegfried: Act 1: Siegfried and Brünnhilde have enjoyed living together atop Brünnhilde’s rock. She decides to send him off on an adventure down the Rhine, and he accepts. He gives her the Ring and goes on his Rhine Journey. Siegfried finds himself at the hall of the Gibichungs, a family that dwells near the Rhine. The two Gibichung siblings, Gunther and Gutrune, are advised by Hagen that they need spouses. He suggests Brünnhilde for Gunther and Siegfried for Gutrune. Siegfried arrives and he is greeted by Gunther, lord of the Gibichungs. Gutrune gives Siegfried a drink, but not just any drink. She gives Siegfried a potion that will make him forget the love that he has for Brünnhilde. However, she is not aware that he and Brünnhilde know each other. After the potion has taken affect, Siegfried tells Gunther that there is a lovely lady on top of a rock surrounded by fire, and that he will win her for him as a wife. They take a blood-brotherhood oath and they both go back up the Rhine to get Brünnhilde. Siegfried uses the tarnhelm to disguise himself as Gunther, and hikes up to Brünnhilde’s rock. There, he claims her as his (Gunther’s) wife, and takes the Ring from her. He drags her back to the Gibichung Palace.
Siegfried: Act 2: Siegfried returns with the tarnhelm to the Gibichung Palace, and Hagen summons the vassals, and Gunther and Brünnhilde for the wedding ceremony. The ceremony begins and Gutrune and Siegfried walk in as the happy couple. Gunther and Brünnhilde are anything but. She sees Siegfried with the Ring on his finger and accuses him of seducing her. With the potion’s affect, Siegfried has no idea what is going on. Siegfried swears on Hagen’s spear the her accusations are false while she swears that they are true. Siegfried shakes it off and happily walks off with Gutrune.
Siegfried: Act 3: Siegfried, Gunther, Hagen, and the vassals have all gone hunting together. Siegfried gets separated and happens to encounter the Rhinemaidens. They beg him for the Ring back and he refuses. They warn him that if he does not give back the cursed Ring, that he will die. He laughs it off. The rest of the hunting party joins Siegfried and they all sit down for refreshments. While resting, Siegfried tells the vassals the stories of his youth and how he rescued Brünnhilde. Before he can get to how he fell in love with Brünnhilde, Hagen gives Siegfried a potion that brings back his memory. Siegfried describes how much he loves Brünnhilde and suddenly, Hagen stabs him in the back. Hagen proves that Brünnhilde’s accusations were correct. By swearing falsely on the spear, Siegfried was “rightly” stabbed with it. The vassals are shocked and saddened. They carry Siegfried’s body back to the Gibichung Palace.
Photo: Siegfried seeing Wotan’s ravens and being stabbed by Hagen (Arthur Rackham)
Siegfried is not Siegfried in this opera. He is controlled by the minds of others. Through the two potions that he is given by Gutrune and by Hagen, he is the one at the party who gets drunk and has no idea what’s going on. His fate is chosen for him. Siegfried was killed because Hagen planned he would be. He set this plan all up so he could get the Ring. Luckily, Brünnhilde prevented that from happening by throwing it back to the Rhinemaidens.
Hagen: Act 1: Hagen is the minister of the Gibichung household. It is his job to advise Gunther, lord of the Gibichungs. Before he even talks to anyone in the opera, he already has a plan for Gunther. Hagen knows about Siegfried and Brünnhilde and that Siegfried is making his way down the Rhine. He advises Gunther that he should get himself a wife and that Gutrune should get herself a husband. He suggests Brünnhilde for Gunther and Siegfried for Gutrune. Siegfried arrives and Hagen advises Gutrune to give Siegfried the potion that will make him forget his love for Brünnhilde, however, Gutrune is not aware of Brünnhilde. Hagen watches this from behind and watches Siegfried and Gunther make the blood-brotherhood oath. He is always watching.
Hagen: Act 2: It is almost dawn. Hagen is sitting half-awake, half-asleep on the bank of the Rhine outside of the Gibichung Palace, when he is visited by his father Alberich. Alberich advises him to kill Siegfried and get the Ring. In his motionless state, Hagen swears that he will do it. Alberich leaves just as Siegfried arrives, ready for the wedding ceremony. Hagen makes his famous call to the vassals and summons them for the wedding. They arrive and think that there should be cause for alarm, but there obviously isn’t (so they think). The wedding ceremony beings and Hagen watches everything unfold, the naïveté of Siegfried and the jealousy of Brünnhilde. Hagen follows through with his plan and has them both swear on his spear that Brünnhilde’s accusations are true by her and false by Siegfried. He also reminds them that the person proven false will be stabbed with that exact spear (Hagen already knows that it will be Siegfried). The wedding ceremony dies down after Gunther and Brünnhilde exit. They all get together and commiserate about Siegfried and agree that he shall die. Hagen even says to Gunther that Siegfried would be vulnerable to a stab in the back (which he will do later). Hagen repeats Alberich’s oath and plans for murder.
Hagen: Act 3: Siegfried gets separated from the hunting trip. Hagen, Gunther, and the vassals catch up with him and sit down for a break. Siegfried tells the vassals stories from his youth and how he rescued Brünnhilde. As part of the plan, Hagen gives Siegfried a potion that brings back his memory for the love he has for Brünnhilde. Siegfried then describes his love for Brünnhilde and he is stabbed in the back by Hagen. The vassals are all shocked and ask Hagen “Why did you do this?”. He explains in three words: “Meineid rächt such” ( I have righted perjury). Brünnhilde’s accusations were true based on Siegfried’s story, thus, he was stabbed by Hagen’s spear. The hunting party sadly makes its way back to the Gibichung Palace. Gutrune is horrified to find Siegfried dead. Hagen makes up a lie that he was killed by a wild boar. Gunther jumps in and calls Hagen the boar, saying that he did indeed stab Siegfried. Hagen then stabs Gunther. Brünnhilde finally interrupts this and sings her Immolation Scene. She throws the Ring into the Rhine and Hagen jumps after it. The Rhinemaidens drown him after he sings the last line of the Ring, “Give me the Ring!”.
Photo: Alberich and Hagen guarding the Gibichung Palace (Arthur Rackham)
Hagen can truly be considered one of or the most evil character in opera. Through the entire opera, he has it all planned out that Siegfried will die and will die innocent. For most of the opera he simply sits back and watches. He watches his evil plan play out. He even has trouble interacting with other characters. For example: When Siegfried asks Hagen if he wants to join the blood-brotherhood oath, he responds that his blood is too sluggish and cold and that it would ruin the drink. Hagen is a truly evil character, due to the wrath of the Ring. Like his father, he needs to have it. Siegfried, unfortunately, was the punching bag.
Gunther: Act 1: Gunther is the lord of the Gibichungs. He needs a wife, and Hagen is going to get him one. Gunther is a weak character, so he knows that he is going to need help on that one. He goes with Hagen’s plan of drugging Siegfried and then going to get Brünnhilde. After Siegfried takes the potion, Gunther and he take a blood-brotherhood oath. It brings them closer together and forbids them to break any promises for each other. This only tightens Hagen’s evil plan. Gunther and Siegfried then take off for Brünnhilde’s rock. Siegfried will disguise himself as Gunther with the tarnhelm, because Gunther is too weak to surpass the flames to get to Brünnhilde. Gunther just sits in the boat while the action goes on.
Gunther: Act 2: Gunther and Siegfried have returned from their Rhine Journey with Brünnhilde in tow. Hagen calls everyone, including the vassals, for the wedding ceremony. Gutrune and Siegfried stand happily and lovingly together, while Gunther is dragging Brünnhilde down the aisle. She is not happy. Gunther is also not happy, because he feels embarrassed with Brünnhilde in front of his people. The wedding ceremony gets awkward, so he, Hagen, and Brünnhilde congregate separately. He and Hagen agree to kill Siegfried on a hunting trip, and they all agree that Siegfried’s death must occur.
Gunther: Act 3: Siegfried has gone with Hagen and Gunther’s plan to go on the hunting trip. He gets separated from the party for a bit, but is later rejoined by he, Hagen, and the vassals. Gunther watches the plan turn into reality. He watches Siegfried tell the stories of his youth, Hagen give him the potion, and then he watches Siegfried get stabbed in the back. Gunther had no idea that Siegfried knew Brünnhilde previously, and he had no idea about this potion. Along with the vassals, he just asks Hagen, “Why?”. The hunting party makes its way back to the palace. There, Hagen claims to Gutrune that Siegfried was killed by a wild boar. Gunther gathers up enough courage to prove Hagen wrong, saying that Hagen was the boar and that he stabbed Siegfried. Hagen then stabs Gunther and Gunther dies next to Siegfried.
Photo: Ian Paterson as Gunther in the Lepage Ring at the Metropolitan Opera
Gunther is a weak character. Hagen advises him on almost everything, making it seem that Hagen controls his life. For example: Gunther had no idea that Siegfried had taken a potion and that he had known Brünnhilde previously. He was just upset at Siegfried because he threatened his standing position. At one point in the opera, Gunther attempts to use bravery and stop Hagen from getting his way by lying. He tells Gutrune that Hagen was the one to kill Siegfried. He ends up killed, but he tried using courage. Gunther’s life was controlled by Hagen, who was controlled by the Ring.
Gutrune: Act 1: Gutrune is already part of Hagen’s master plan. She will have Siegfried as her husband. Hagen knows that Siegfried is coming to the Gibichung Hall, so he has Gutrune prepare a potion that will make him forget every women he has ever laid eyes on, and he will fall in love with the first woman he sees. When Siegfried arrives, Gutrune gives him the potion. Just as Hagen planned, Siegfried sees Gutrune and falls in love with her immediately. Hagen’s plan is working.
Gutrune: Act 2: It is Wedding Day! Through Hagen’s plan, Gutrune will marry Siegfried. She is thrilled to have him as her husband. Brünnhilde is not. When Brünnhilde claims that Siegfried has always loved her, she dismisses it. Gutrune claims that Siegfried has always loved her, literally since the minute he laid eyes on her. At this point, Gutrune cannot stand Brünnhilde.
Gutrune: Act 3: After Siegfried is killed, the hunting party returns to the Gibichung Palace. Before they do, Gutrune is awake in the palace. She is nervous that something happened to Siegfried. She also hears noises in the palace, wondering if Brünnhilde is awake. She is nervous. The hunting party returns with the dead Siegfried. She is horrified and screams. She then starts blaming everyone for Siegfried’s death: Gunther, Hagen, and even Brünnhilde. Brünnhilde shushes her and continues with her Immolation Scene. Gutrune dies.
Photo: Gutrune meets Siegfried (Arthur Rackham)
Gutrune’s life, like Gunther’s, is controlled by Hagen. Hagen has her make the potion, but she has no idea that Siegfried was previously with Brünnhilde. She has no reason to believe that Siegfried doesn’t truly love her and that his real wife is Brünnhilde. Her life is completely controlled by Hagen.
The Rhinemaidens: The Rhinemaidens encounter Siegfried when he gets separated from the hunting party. They beg him and beg him to return the Ring, but he refuses. They warn him that if he does not return the cursed Ring, he will die. Siegfried just laughs it off, and the Rhinemaidens sink back into the water. Later on, after the Gibichung Palace is burning and the Ring has fallen back into the Rhine, the Rhinemaidens are thrilled! After 18 hours of music, the Rhinemaidens finally have their Ring back! They have to drown Hagen for it, but the Ring has finally been returned to its proper place. The world is redeemed.
Photo: The Rhinemaidens warning Siegfried (Arthur Rackham)
None of the other characters in Götterdämmerung truly change. Alberich remains the same in that his desire for the Ring is still very strong. He reminds his son Hagen to kill Siegfried so her can get the Ring. If Hagen had gotten the Ring and survived, Alberich surely may have found a way to get it from Hagen. Waltraute also does not change. She is worried about Wotan’s future and the future of the Gods. She does not find any comfort in Brünnhilde, therefore, her concern for the Gods remains the same.
Götterdämmerung takes the Met stage starting April 23 at 6 PM. Buy tickets or listen on the radio to hear these characters interact with each other and understand their changing personalities. Hojotoho!
Photo: The Lepage Götterdämmerung at the Metropolitan Opera