Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gott damm, it's Rung. :(

So last week marked the ending of my first Ring cycle. Sadness. My dad and I attended the last opera, Gotterdammerung, the grand finale where everything goes up in a blaze of glory.

It was bittersweet. On the one had I was looking forward to seeing more of Freyer's magnum opus, but on the other hand, I was so sad it was ending. It's been a great run. Because I've been sitting in the same area of the concert hall for each performance, I've seen the same people over and over again. I had lunch with them, chatted during intermission, and by the end of the cycle we were hugging goodbye. It was sweet. Most of my companions are a lot older than me, and I think they think I'm some sort of young protege. lol I even bumped into someone from my alma mater - go figure!

Since I've covered the first three operas in such a nuanced fashion, I figure I should do this last one as well.

Opera 4: Gotterdammerung

Okay, this one is kinda weird.

So it begins with Siegfried and Brunhilde happy and in love. Brunhilde is sort of tamed - she's all, go forth and have adventure, I'll mind the house and have dinner on the table when you come home. The two sing this beautiful and touching duet while holding this cloth as a symbol of their union ("Apart, who shall separate us? Separate, we shall never part!").

Of course this is opera, so you know trouble's a-brewing...

And this guy's the trouble brewer barista.

His name is Hagen and he's the half-brother of Gunther and Gutrune. He's like, I have a great idea! You guys want to get married right? Gunther, you can marry this hottie named Brunhilde and Gutrune, you can marry this guy named Siegfried. One small problem is that they're currently in love with each other, but I can fix that. I'll give Siegfried a magic potion and he'll forget all about Brunhilde and fall in love with Gutrune. And this potion is so amazing that Gunther can make Siegfried hook up him with Brunhilde.

Hagen is like the worst matchmaker ever! But Gunther and Gutrune must be really desperate because they're like, when do we start?

At first Hagen's costume seemed sort of cute - his short fake puppet legs dangle. But as the opera wore on, Hagen started to become this twisted demented image of evil - a tribute to the acting skills of the singer.

But will Siegfried fall for such a dastardly trick? Well, he almost got poisoned in the third opera and it's been well established that he's sort of an idiot. He spent the last opera trying to figure out what the hell fear was, so that gives you an idea of his mental capacity.

As he wanders about searching for adventure, he stumbles into Gunther and Gutrune's house. Poor guy has no clue his life is about to be totally screwed. They give him the potion, he drinks it - apparently ignorant of the lessons learned in various afterschool specials. The potion works - he forgets all about Brunhilde and is totally in love with Gutrune.

Not only that, since Siegfried is the only one that can breach the magic fire to get to Brunhilde, he tells Gunther that he will alter his appearance with a magic hat so that he looks like Gunther. He will take Brunhilde by force, claim her as his wife, and then give her to Gunther
The two pledge a blood oath - slitting their wrists in the process.

Meanwhile, evil Hagen is visited by his dad - none other than Alberich, the dwarf that stole the ring in the first opera and started this whole damn thing. *spoiler alert!* Hagen promises his dad that he'll kill Siegfried. The two are really pleased by this because they are EVIL.

Brunhilde's sister (one of the Valkyries) comes down from Valhalla to warn her of the evil nature of the ring and instructs her throw it in the river to give it back to the Rhinemaidens. Brunhilde's like Oh you don't - Siegfried gave this and it's a token of his love.

Siegfried comes a-knocking disguised as Gunther and wrenches the ring out of poor Brunhilde's hand. He drags her back to Gunther's house.

When Brunhilde is brought the castle, she realizes that the guy who conquered her was in fact Siegfried when she sees him holding the ring. She is PISSED. She's even more pissed when he goes off with Gutrune. She feels betrayed and she accuses him of infidelity. Gunther is upset because his honor has been tarnished.

Hagen's whips up an army of vassals into a blood thirsty rage. He suggests that Siegfried swear an oath that he's never touched Brunhilde, knowing that Siegfried doesn't know what he's doing because he's all drugged up. If he's proven a liar, he dies.

Brunhilde's so pissed that complains to all the vassals and enters into the plot to kill Siegfried with Hagen. She tells evil Hagen that Siegfried can be killed with a stab in the back.

The truth comes to light and armed with the knowledge of Siegfried's Achilles heel, Hagen prepares to strike.

Hagen, Siegfried, and Gunther go hunting. Guess who doesn't make it back from the trip? Hagen stabs Siegfried in the back with a spear and goes about his business.

The death of Siegfried was really moving and has some of the most striking music of the entire cycle. Lots of drama. lol

Gunther is kind of upset by the whole nasty affair and when he raises an objection, Hagen kills him too. So now there are two dead bodies on the stage.

At this point, Brunhilde's like - okay, things are pretty bad now. She starts a funeral pyre and jumps on her trusty horse and rides into the flames, intending to purify the ring with her burnt ashes for the Rhinemaidens. The Rhinemaidens claim the ring, drown evil Hagen, and the entire world is consumed by fire.

Fade to black.

How this is played out in Freyer's opera is that everything comes crashing down. Cutout ravens float away to reveal the prompters cuing the singers. Lighting rigs fall on to the stage and a large spotlights shines out into the audience. Puppet cutouts sail upward, spinning crazily. The entire world that Freyer has created gets destroyed. It was thrilling and my heart was literally pounding with the excitement.

To see this all from the best seats in the house for free has been so amazing and I am completely grateful to my benefactor. :) I can say without hesitation that to date, this has been the most amazing musical experience that I've had in my entire life, even better than this night. And gott damm, do I love this friggin city.


amber said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this so much. And your synopsis for us regular, non-opera attending folk is hilarious. :)

weezermonkey said...

Opera is crazy!

Anonymous said...


David Richie said...

I'm glad Amber liked the synopsis. I did to. But I hope she goes to the opera. Otherwise, there's no point.