In what is expected to be a Wagnerian event for the ages, the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD sees soprano Christine Goerke take on the role of Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, Wotan’s wilful warrior daughter who loses her immortality in opera’s most famous act of filial defiance. The opera is set to arrive on the big screen in Cypriot on Saturday.
The opera has notable cast, including tenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek playing the incestuous twins Siegmund and Sieglinde while Greer Grimsley sings Wotan and Philippe Jordan conducts.
Die Walküre’s world premiere was in Munich in 1870 so it’s impressive that 149 years later, the play is still being performed. It is a work by Richard Wagner, a complex, controversial creator of music-drama masterpieces that stand at the centre of today’s operatic repertory. Born in Leipzig, Germany, he was an artistic revolutionary who reimagined every supposition about music and theatre.
The second opera in Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle, Die Walküre has long stood on its own as an evening of extraordinarily powerful theatre. Part of this appeal lies in its focus on some of the Ring’s most interesting characters at decisive moments of their lives: Wotan, the leader of the gods; his wife, Fricka; his twin offspring Siegmund and Sieglinde; and, above all, Wotan’s warrior daughter Brünnhilde. These characters and others follow their destinies to some of Wagner’s most remarkable music.
It’s an opera set in mythological times when gods, giants, dwarves 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, as the balance of power in the cosmic struggle tips ever so slowly toward humanity.
Throughout the Ring cycle, Wagner uses a system of musical themes, or leitmotifs, associated with characters, events, emotions and things. The entire first act of Die Walküre depicts the experience of falling in love in one great arc, from initial attraction to consummation. It is one of theatre’s most convincing portrayals of the power of love – even if the lovers in question are in fact twin brother and sister.
Act III opens with the famous Ride of the Valkyries. In a dramatic masterstroke, Wagner uses the sound of eight powerful female voices, punctuated by shrieking laughter, to depict the terrible thrill of combat. The opera ends with some of the most moving music ever composed, as Wotan intones his farewell to Brünnhilde.
Die Walküre – The MET Live in HD
Live broadcast of Richard Wagner’s opera straight from the Metropolitan Opera. March 30. Rialto Theatre, Limassol. 6pm. €18/€14. With Greek and English subtitles. Tel:7777-7745