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Starts at 7:00 pm on Thursday, 19 July 2012
Introduced by Erica Challis
Erica Challis takes us through the story and music of the second of Wagner’s four Ring Cycle operas, ahead of Sunday’s direct broadcast from Wellington.
Wagner took two decades to complete his Ring Cycle, a length of time stretched by many interruptions. When he did work on the Ring he worked rapidly. Die Walküre written one year after Das Rheingold kept him busy from mid-1854 until March 1856.
The first act drew him into a white heat of inspiration. In the story of Siegmund and Sieglinde his personal sympathies were engaged; drawing as much on his own experiences as on philosophical ideas, the composer found this story a good means of expressing inner turmoil.
Involved in a love affair with Mathilde Wesendonck, he criticised (through Hunding and Fricka) the bonds of conventional marriage. This personal element may account for the appeal of Die Walküre, most popular of the Ring dramas and the one most frequently performed by itself.
Die Walküre undermined Wagner’s plans, he wanted the Ring always played in its entirety, so audiences could follow its lofty, abstract ideas. Among these concepts – all of them as important to Wagner’s life as to his work – were the redemption of man by woman; the cleansing of the world by unselfish love; the defeat of greed, materialism and arbitrary power; and the need, both individually and on a national scale to follow “manifest destiny”.
Die Walküre was premièred in Munich in 1870 and an antagonistic press had to concede it was a work of genius.
(Source: The Met)
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