#WagnerWeek

Hey, opera lovers!
How are you getting on after holidays? I’m fine. Since the beginning of January I’ve been spending my time doing what I like that is watching opera:).  As I had a lot of days off I decided to watch something big that I hadn’t had much time for before. And I chose «Der Ring des Nibelungen» or «The Ring of the Nibelung» by Richard Wagner. 
 
Honestly, I was really afraid of «The Ring» cause it’s 16 hours of opera based on the ancient epos! I was not sure if I’d like it or not cause I wasn’t a big expert in Wagner. I’d listened to just one opera of him before - «Lohengrin» (I’d enjoyed it a lot, by the way). But that сycle is without parallel in the opera world! It’s sort of an operatic «Lord of the rings». You have four operas where the plot develops during each part. And I gave it a shot and watched four operas in five days. And I liked it! I have to say that you need to be mentally ready for it and be open to this fantasy world and then Wagner will do his job!

I was attracted to Met’s production of «The Ring» by Robert Lepage. I liked the set and visual effects but most importantly I understood everything what was going on, there were no unclear moments. I think the director stayed true to the score. I always read libretto before watching opera and that time I was wondering how this or that moment would be presented on stage cause there is a plenty of magical things like transformation into a dragon or a frog etc. And here the director has found very smart solutions.
«The Cycle» starts with «Das Rheingold» («The Rhein Gold») which is a prologue to the whole story of the ring. I love the beginning…the motif of the Rhein when the music grows more and more, instrument by instrument. The giant spinning machine (the one and only set for the whole сycle) imitates river waves where three Rhinemaidens keep an eye on their treasure.
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
In general, «Das Rheingold» is the most fascinating production of «The Ring» from the visual side! The descent of Loge and Wotan into Nibelheim and the rainbow bridge are such remarkable scenes! I was so amazed by the director’s ideas that I was watching the action with my jaw dropped:).
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
«Die Walküre» («The Valkyrie») is famous for its «Ride of the Valkyries». I always have goose bumps when I hear this tune. And again the realization of «The Ride» is fantastic in the production.
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
After a shocking (for me) love story of Siegmund and Sieglinde, finally we get to know Brünnhilde. Her story line is central in the whole сycle and in this particular opera I enjoy her relationships with Wotan, her father.  They understand each other without words, and I’m glad that they make up at the end:). Also the scenes between Wotan and his wife Fricka are very interesting. I sympathize Fricka as a woman and I can get  her motives. Of course, I wanted Siegmund and Sieglinde to stay alive despite their «weird» relationships but the story is the story.
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
«Siegfried» is the most entertaining opera for me in «The Ring» as there are a lot of twists in the plot, a lot of magic and here we have a hero! Siegfried is a stubborn and strong young man. And at the same time he is brave, full of love and hope and that’s what makes him likeable for people. 
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Brünnhilde and Siegfried make a perfect couple together. I liked the motif of love at the end. It’s so touching and gentle that you really want them to live happily ever after without any problems in life but…
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
In «Götterdämmerung» (or «Twilight of the Gods») you see that the curse of the ring is strong and it’ll never let them live a normal life until it is returned to the Rhein. I don’t like the Gibichungs! They ruin love between Brünnhilde and Siegfried for their own purposes. Because of their cruel scheme Brünnhilde is betrayed by Siegfried. I was like «NO!!! Please, I wanna a happy ending for them!». The scene, where Brünnhilde finds out that Siegfried is married to Gutrune, is so heartbreaking:(. And musically Wagner filled it with strong emotions that it’s one of my favorite moments in «The Ring», even though it’s a sad one… I was so relieved when the ring was given back to the Rhinemaidens! It’s where it should be. Limitless power brings nothing good to its owner.
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
So this is my quick review of Wagner’s «Der Ring des Nibelungen». I have no regrets that I’ve watched it, that I’ve chosen Lepage’s production. One of the great things about it is the main cast which stays the same in all four operas. Bryn Terfel as Wotan, Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, Eric Owens as Alberich, Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried and other performers turn «The Ring» into a real-life story about love and power. And you believe them cause you see characters on stage, not just good singers.

I recommend this сycle and these productions to everyone who wants to understand what Wagner is all about. And in the end I wanna share with you an awesome animation clip in which you’re told the whole story of «The Ring of the Nibelung» in…two and a half minutes! If you still have doubts about it, just watch this video!



P.S. I almost forgot to tell you about «Opera Strip» - a series of opera comics by Sinfini Music. They have comics about «The Ring Cycle» as well. Love them! It’s a great alternative to a usual brochure with a libretto!

Check them out: «Das Rheingold», «Die Walküre», «Siegfried», «Götterdämmerung».

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