The Ring of the Nibelung - Rhinegold


Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

The Eve
Scenic festival for three days and an eve; First performance on 22nd September, 1869 in Munich; Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 16th September, 1984

In German with German surtitles

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“The beginning already anticipates the end. And the end is a new beginning. Temporalities and spaces overlap in the Ring. There is no time in the historical sense. For his parable of an entire world, Wagner sets the “artificial time“ for the “First Evening“ preceding the three subsequent works. Wagner´s “Theatre of the Future”, the most generously outlined in the RING, is depicted as an epic report of doom, as a grandiose endgame which in its comprehensive conceptual dimension can be compared to the Oresteia of Aishylus, or Shakespeare´s historical royal dramas. Where is the RING´s actual setting? Is it located in prehistoric Scandinavia? Or is it a romantic period piece of Germany, including forests, fortresses and castles? Are we in the Wilhelminic era of the Gründerzeit, witnessing the onset of Industrial Revolution and the rise of the Middle Class? Or could this possibly be the “Thousand Year Reich?” Are we already in “2001”? The most transparent and honest decision that could be taken in these circumstances is: we are here, and now, in the theatre, on a contemporary musical stage, with all the creativity that goes with being suspended between the conventions and visions of the Theatre of the Past, and those of a Theatre of the Future. Our stage should be seen as a “time tunnel”. Each and every character, every situation is then and now at once. What has been above is reversed into a beneath. Hope has become fear that once more imagines freedom. The beginning means the end, and the end is the beginning.” (Götz Friedrich, 1984)

“For GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, the TWILIGHT OF THE GODS we had conceived a tunnel that relates to the Washington metro. An opera friend had sent me a postcard with this in mind. We decided to employ this tunnel concept throughout the cycle. In this we were aided by Henry Moore´s drawings of the London metro tunnel and many other inputs that were soon embedded in the terminology of the “time tunnel”. It seemed the suitable dimension for a combination of time and space, an overlapping, intermingling of Past, Present and Future.
And the idea that the RING is a game of parables now became manifest to us in an amazing manner: the Gods have retreated below grounds, the benevolent ones along with the malevolent ones, along with their creatures. And down there, they reenact, for themselves and for us, once again, and ever again, the great play of Power and of Love …” (Götz Friedrich, 1990)

“Even before the prelude the iron curtain is raised accompanied by a brief eternity of silence. The silence at the beginning signalizes the mute ending. The shrouded figures of the petrified actors are made visible in their stages of the Before and After. The stage represents a “time tunnel” where the forces and events of Yesterday, Today and perhaps Tomorrow intermingle. At the same time it is the refuge of those who were shunted here in the aftermath of a catastrophe. After this, DAS RHEINGOLD is no longer purely a divine drama but the drama of Life itself with the inherent forces of destruction that inhabit Consciousness. Wotan´s will to power corresponds with his tendency to “transform and change” that increasingly falls for, a tendency which in the end renders him totally incapable of realizing the possibilities Reality offers. Loge, the neutral observer at his side is unconcerned with the fate of the living. As he is endowed with a rationale that is exempt from all ethical norms, he is able to anticipate the end of the world of the Gods that is now frozen in decadence. „Ihrem Ende eilen sie zu, die so stark im Bestehen sich wähnen! (They are hastening towards their end, those who imagine themselves so solid and abiding!)” While delivering this passage, Friedrich lets him emerge from the play and turn towards the audience, assuming the role of a conferencier. This again creates a focus on the basic concept that evidently a universal concern. In the meanwhile the Gods in all their ignorance, coquettish behaviour and indulgence towards themselves strut out their Pavane that has become devoid of all content, heading towards Walhalla.” (K. Klebe, Das Opernglas)

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Accompanying Programme

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Accompanying Programme

Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance