Author Topic: Why Rheingold and Siegfried are less popular than Walküre and Götterdämmerung?  (Read 5924 times)

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Baron Scarpia

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  Well musically, the leitmotifs repeat or are presented again in varying situations throughout the 4 operas.  For example the love duet at the end of Siegfried is heard again in Gotterdammerung.  The leitmotif at the beginning of Rheingold is presented again in a darker form in the Siegfried funeral march in Gotterdammerung, The leitmotif representing the giants, the wanderer, etc. are repeated, sometimes in varying forms throughout the 4 operas.   I can see how one might prefer the action sequence in one ring opera over another, but I tend to view the whole thing as one piece.  Just me I suppose. 

  marvin

Clearly there are crucial thematic connections mediated by the leitmotifs, but that doesn't exclude the possibility they were used more effectively in one than another. He did put it aside for 12 years and write two operas before resuming with a refined technique.

My perspective is perhaps influenced by the fact that my life circumstances would never allow me the time to listen to the entire ring sequentially and absorb it as a whole.  Getting through one act is difficult.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 07:45:34 AM by Baron Scarpia »

Offline Rinaldo

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A little thread necromancy after yesterday's Siegfried in Vienna I had the pleasure attending. Well, pleasure – the orchestra played their viennese hearts out, the singers were mostly solid, but the staging was the epitome of blandness. I'm all for simple, stark productions, but save for a wonderful dying Fafner towering over Siegfried, this was a school-level effort. A hole for a grave here, a spear-that-doesn't-break-but-has-to-be-awkwardly-switched there, everything bathing in shades of grey... It all felt like one giant post-covid budget cut and the uninspired direction didn't help.

That said, I've certainly warmed to the music in the first two acts. And by warmed I mean I liked it a lot. The third still seems too disjointed and patchwork. The long gap shows – and not in a good way. I don't hear a master who took serious time to ponder how to sort things out, but a guy suddenly remembering he had a deadline twelve years ago.

And the chief problem that persists? Siegfried is such a repellent dunce. I know he's supposed to be a Tarzan-like man-child, condemned to a destiny he didn't choose, but calling this simpleton heroic? Until *gasp* seeing a woman, he doesn't have to overcome anything. The guy just stumbles from one scene to another and whoops, I've killed a dragon, well, let's have a nap and wait for a bird to tell me what to stumble into next.

Hard to fall for a drama built around its least interesting character.

Offline Cato

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A little thread necromancy after yesterday's Siegfried in Vienna I had the pleasure attending. Well, pleasure – the orchestra played their viennese hearts out, the singers were mostly solid, but the staging was the epitome of blandness. I'm all for simple, stark productions, but save for a wonderful dying Fafner towering over Siegfried, this was a school-level effort. A hole for a grave here, a spear-that-doesn't-break-but-has-to-be-awkwardly-switched there, everything bathing in shades of grey... It all felt like one giant post-covid budget cut and the uninspired direction didn't help.

That said, I've certainly warmed to the music in the first two acts. And by warmed I mean I liked it a lot. The third still seems too disjointed and patchwork. The long gap shows – and not in a good way. I don't hear a master who took serious time to ponder how to sort things out, but a guy suddenly remembering he had a deadline twelve years ago.

And the chief problem that persists? Siegfried is such a repellent dunce. I know he's supposed to be a Tarzan-like man-child, condemned to a destiny he didn't choose, but calling this simpleton heroic? Until *gasp* seeing a woman, he doesn't have to overcome anything. The guy just stumbles from one scene to another and whoops, I've killed a dragon, well, let's have a nap and wait for a bird to tell me what to stumble into next.

Hard to fall for a drama built around its least interesting character.

Many thanks for the review!

Here is what I wrote some years ago:


Many decades ago I had study scores of all four operas and listened for many hours to them.

I found myself listening to Goetterdaemmerung the most, followed by Das Rheingold, Die Walkuere, and Siegfried.

The latter was not uninteresting musically, and I did enjoy especially the interaction between Mime and Siegfried.

But now, decades later, I can see why some people (like my younger self) might miss the charms of Siegfried: like Beowulf, it is in one sense almost a meditation on heroism, a pondering of the hero's duty and nature, rather than a showcase of the hero in action.   Of course, it also acts as a long, ominous crescendo toward Goetterdaemmerung, the apotheosis of the story, and so if it seems to have a few scenes which are less than thrilling, and more scenes with subtler psychological menace and dread, that is by design of the tetralogy.


Wagner's text follows the tradition of the naive hero, or even a dunce hero, whose innocence or lack of understanding of the world, including (especially?) sexuality, allows him in fact to conquer the evil around him.

In essence, if he eats of the apple, he loses his power over evil.  There is also something of Rousseau's Noble Savage in the idea, i.e. corruption of civilization vs. the pristine nature of the incorruptible "natural man."

One can debate whether any of that is true to any degree.  Wagner apparently had no trouble with accepting it!
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