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Die Walküre

26 September—28 October 2018
Main Stage

Antonio Pappano conducts a great cast including Stuart Skelton, Emily Magee, John Lundgren and Nina Stemme in the second opera in Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.

When to see it

The Story

During a storm, Sieglinde gives shelter to a wounded stranger. They find themselves drawn to each other. He is Siegmund, the twin from whom Sieglinde was separated in childhood. Unknown to them, their father is Wotan, the most powerful of the gods. Through Siegmund, Wotan hopes to retrieve a gold ring of ultimate power that he cannot take himself.

Brother and sister fall in love and flee, taking with them Nothung, a sword destined for a hero. As goddess of marriage, Wotan’s wife Fricka angrily demands Wotan must not protect his incestuous children to serve his ends. Wotan bitterly concedes. However, Wotan’s daughter Brünnhilde, a Valkyrie, takes it on herself to save Siegmund. Wotan stops her, and Siegmund is killed in battle, his sword shattered. Brünnhilde does rescue Sieglinde, who she knows is pregnant with Siegmund’s son, the hero Wotan requires. As punishment for defying him, Wotan incarcerates Brünnhilde in a deep sleep on a mountaintop, protected by magic fire.

Background

Die Walküre is the second work and ‘first evening’ of Richard Wagner’s four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, following Das Rheingold. It has become the most performed opera of the cycle, loved and admired for its nuanced and intelligent exploration of complex family entanglements, expressed through music of astonishing power – perhaps nowhere more so than in the glorious music for the incestuous lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde.
Wotan’s voyage of self-discovery and ultimate resignation are at the heart of Keith Warner’s production, created for The Royal Opera in 2005. Wotan’s great Act II monologue is set in the abandoned former home of the gods, seen in Das Rheingold, whose evident disorder and damage present a striking representation of Wotan’s own inner decline and the gods’ incipient twilight. Recurring objects and visual motifs reflect the use of musical themes within Wagner’s score, which shows the composer at his most radical and most lyrical.

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