Opera returns to the Salmar Classic on Saturday, March 30, with a presentation of Richard Wagner’s Die Walkure.
Die Walküre, the second opera in Richard Wagner’s monumental Der Ring des Nibelungen, has long stood on its own as a masterpiece of extraordinarily powerful theatre.
Part of its appeal lies in its focus on decisive moments of the characters’ lives: Wotan, the leader of the gods; his determined wife, Fricka; his twin offspring, Siegmund and Sieglinde; and above all, his warrior daughter Brünnhilde (“the Valkyrie” of the title). These characters follow their destinies, accompanied by some of Wagner’s most remarkable music —from Siegmund and Sieglinde’s rapturous love scene to the rousing and instantly recognizable Ride of the Valkyries to Wotan’s moving farewell at the opera’s close. The opera premiered at the National Theatre in Munich in 1870.
Die Walküre is set in mythological times, when gods, giants, dwarfs and humans all contended for power. While the first part of the cycle, Das Rheingold, moves between realms above and below the earth, Die Walküre takes place entirely in human territory. The battlefield is love, as the balance of power in the cosmic struggle tips ever so slowly toward humanity.
Richard Wagner (1812-1883), born in Leipzig, Germany, was an artistic revolutionary who reimagined every supposition about music and theatre. Wagner wrote his own librettos and insisted that words and music were equal in his works. His idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or “total work of art,” combining music, poetry, architecture, painting and the other disciplines continues to impact creative fields far beyond traditional operatic territory.
In this extraordinary Wagnerian event, soprano Christine Goerke sings Brünnhilde, Wotan’s willful warrior daughter, who loses her immortality in opera’s most famous act of filial defiance. Tenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sing the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde. Greer Grimsley sings Wotan with Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as his wife. Philippe Jordan conducts this revolutionary high-tech production by Canadian superstar Robert Lepage.
The presentation begins at 9 a.m., sung in German with English titles. Run time is four hours and 55 minutes, with two intermissions of approximately a half hour.