JVZ Conducts Wagner's Die Walküre
May 18-20 | 2018
Jaap van Zweden CONDUCTS
Simon O'Neill TENOR (SIEGMUND)
Michelle Deyoung MEZZO-SOPRANO (SIEGLINDE)*
Jongmin Park BASS (HUNDING)
Matthias Goerne BARITONE (WOTAN)
Hiedi Melton SOPRANO (BRÜNNHILDE)
Christa Mayer MEZZO-SOPRANO (FRICKA)
Karen Foster SOPRANO (GERHILDE)
Elaine Mckrill SOPRANO (ORTLINDE)
Catherine Martin MEZZO-SOPRANO (WALTRAUTE)
Nicole Piccolomini MEZZO-SOPRANO (SCHWERTLEITE)
Erika Wueschner SOPRANO (HELMWIGE)
Blythe Gaissert MEZZO-SOPRANO (SIEGRUNE)
Krysty Swann MEZZO-SOPRANO (GRIMGERDE)
Edyta Kulczak MEZZO-SOPRANO (ROSSWEISSE)
Die Walküre (Complete opera in three acts)
(Sung in German with English surtitles)
As a special event during the Farewell Celebration Season, Music Director Jaap van Zweden will lead the DSO and world-renowned soloists in complete performances of Wagner’s Die Walküre.
Performances will feature two intermissions: a 45-minute intermission following Act 1 and a 25-minute intermission following Act 2. Patrons may pre-order a dinner through the Meyerson and dine during the two intermissions.
To make your reservation, call (214) 670-3721. VIEW FULL MENU
“Van Zweden’s Wagner, it is impossible to resist.” Bachtrack
- DIE WALKÜRE PLOT SYNOPSIS
By: René Spencer Saller
At the beginning of Act I, Siegmund seeks shelter during a storm and finds himself at the home of the warrior Hunding, who happens to be married to Siegmund's twin sister, Sieglinde. But Siegmund hasn't seen Sieglinde since she was abducted as a child, and he doesn't recognize the unhappy young woman who lets him inside despite her husband's absence. She offers him water, and, almost instantly, their mutual attraction erupts. When Hunding returns, Siegmund tells the couple his story, including the part about his sister's abduction. Sieglinde is fascinated, and Hunding is furious. He tells Siegmund that he may have supper and stay the night, but vows to fight his guest in the morning. Siegmund, who is unarmed, remembers the sword that his father (Wotan in disguise) once promised him.
Sieglinde gives her husband a knock-out potion and recounts her own story to Siegmund, who hasn't yet told her his real name. In "Der Männer Sippe," she recounts how, after the hateful Hunding forced her into marriage, an old wanderer (the disguised Wotan) plunged a sword into a nearby ash tree. This enchanted weapon can be removed only by the hero who will save her.
Do the twins fall in love before or after they recognize their close kinship? It happens so fast, it hardly matters. In ardent bel canto declarations, Siegmund compares their bond to that of love and spring ("Winterstürme"). Sieglinde, for her part, christens him "Spring" ("Du bist der Lenz"). Siegmund pulls the sword from the tree and names it "Nothung," or "needful." In the rapturous closing aria, he claims her as his "bride" and "sister."
In the first scene of Act II, Wotan tells Brünnhilde that she must defend his mortal son Siegmund in his battle with Hunding. She gladly agrees, departing with a fierce, ululating "Hojotoho!" But Fricka, who has heard the pleas of Hunding, accuses her husband of being obtuse. She reminds him that incest is a sin. She tells him to stop protecting the "shameless fruit of your own infidelity." Although Wotan appeals to her emotions, describing the twins' profound love for each other, Fricka eventually wears him down by emphasizing his duty to her, his faithful wife. With her fierce aria and her righteous rage, she changes Wotan's mind: Siegmund must die. Wotan must not let him use the magic sword; Brünnhilde, that "agent of her faithless father's will," must not protect him. Having extracted this oath of submission from Wotan, Fricka makes her exit, with a smug parting jab to Brünnhilde, who has just returned.
An anguished duet ensues in Scene 2, when Wotan explains to Brünnhilde how Fricka trapped him, thwarting his divine will. After swearing his daughter to secrecy, he confesses everything in the sepulchral aria, "Als junger Liebe Lust mir verblich." When his fleshly lust turned into a lust for power, he recounts, calamity ensued. Wotan tells his daughter how the Nibelung Alberich stole the gold from the Rhinemaidens and made a ring, which Wotan then stole back. But instead of returning it to the Rhinemaidens, he used it to make himself even more powerful. He met Erda, wisest of all women, and gave her a potion to unseal her lips and make her love him. He then impregnated her, creating Brünnhilde. Erda warned him that "the fate of the gods lies in Alberich's hands." If Alberich, who has cursed love and thereby obtained immunity from Wotan's power, gets hold of the ring, Valhalla is doomed. Wotan can create only slaves; it will take a self-created man of free will to defeat Alberich. Brünnhilde correctly deduces that Siegmund, the Wälsung, is such a man, a "law unto himself." But Wotan must betray the son he loves because of the promise he made to Fricka. Now all he wants is "the end"— of Valhalla, of the terrible world that he has created. Despite her fervent protestations, the angry Wotan orders his daughter to take Fricka's part in the contest, to champion the bonds of matrimony, and to ensure that Siegmund dies. Alone and despairing, she ponders her father's words. Then she hears the thrilling Valkyrie motive, and inspiration strikes.
Scene 3 opens with Siegmund and Sieglinde, who have just left their "bed of bliss." She is anxious, and he reassures her. The lovers embrace while the orchestra reprises their love motive. The subsequent aria, "Hinweg! Hinweg!" alternates between voluptuous release and vicious self-recrimination: "I have brought disgrace on my brother! I have defiled the man I love!" Siegmund explains that his vengeance will purify her, but Sieglinde panics when she hears Hunding and his slavering hounds in the distance. With a wild desperation, she recounts a "horrible vision," predicting Siegmund's fall, Nothung's failure, and the lovers' mutual doom. Suddenly, she falls asleep, as if enchanted, and Brünnhilde approaches to the strains of a dirgelike processional.
Wagner described Scene 4 as "the most important scene for the development of the whole of the great four-part drama." It begins with the stony-faced Valkyrie beckoning Siegmund, her beloved half-brother whom she is only now meeting for the first time. "Only those doomed to die can see me," she explains. "The noblest of warriors alone will gaze on me." Siegmund asks where they'll be going, and she says that Wotan has summoned him to Valhalla. He asks if Sieglinde can accompany him, and Brünnhilde tells him no. "Then farewell to Valhalla, farewell to Wotan," he replies. "I shall not follow you there." Brünnhilde tells him that he has no choice but to come with her, now that he has seen her, but he stubbornly refuses. Although she can't force him, she reminds her half-brother that "death will tame your foolish defiance." She goes on to explain that Wotan has stripped Nothung of its magical power. He insists that he would rather go to hell than Valhalla if it means abandoning the slumbering Sieglinde.
Brünnhilde is deeply touched by his sacrifice, but the distraught Siegmund sees only coldness and mockery in her expression. Although she promises to protect Sieglinde, he tells Brünnhilde that he'll kill her before allowing her or anyone else to touch his beloved. Brünnhilde informs him that Sieglinde is already pregnant with his son. When Siegmund threatens to kill his sister-bride and then himself, Brünnhilde stops him. "Sieglinde shall live, and Siegmund shall live with her!" she vows. "I shall have it so!" She tells him to trust in the enchanted sword that "will serve you truly, as truly as I pledge you my aid." She seals her promise with a kiss and arranges to meet him on the battlefield. As this climactic scene ends, Siegmund tenderly examines the dreaming face of Sieglinde. After he leaves to fight Hunding, Sieglinde wakes in a sudden panic.
In scene 5, Hunding calls on Fricka to help him defeat Siegmund. The despairing Sieglinde cries out, "kill me first!" Although Brünnhilde tries to protect Siegmund with her shield, her father shows up to intervene. When Wotan's spear shatters Nothung, Hunding is able to murder Siegmund, and Brünnhilde carries the grieving Sieglinde to safety. Wotan orders "the slave" Hunding to tell Fricka that her order was carried out. Then, with a single gesture from Wotan, Hunding drops dead. Wotan vows to punish Brünnhilde for her insolent disobedience as Act II ends.
Those brash, upward-swooping fanfares in the Act III prelude — commonly known as "The Ride of the Valkyries"— have been recycled thousands of times, but they retain their gleaming allure. Here, in its original context, "Ride" sets the scene for the opera's third act, when the curtain rises on Brünnhilde's eight Valkyrie sisters, who are on a mountaintop preparing to fetch their fallen heroes. As they exchange greetings and exuberant battle cries ("Hojotoho!"), the warrior maidens expand on themes from the prelude. They notice that Brünnhilde is missing, and soon enough see her rushing toward them on her horse, a strange woman in her arms. Brünnhilde explains that she is fleeing Wotan and asks her sisters to protect Sieglinde. When the other maidens learn that Brünnhilde has defied their father, they are stunned. Crazy with grief, Sieglinde begs them to plunge a sword in her heart. Brünnhilde tells her that she must live so that she can give birth to Siegmund's son (the future Siegfried, who, despite being Brünnhilde 's nephew, becomes her lover and redeemer in Götterdämmerung, the final opera of the cycle). Brünnhilde tells Sieglinde to escape to a forest in the east, where Wotan won't pursue her.
When Wotan arrives, the other Valkyries try to hide their disgraced sister, but he quickly perceives her presence. The maidens plead for mercy, but Wotan dismisses their "sentimental drivel." He rails against Brünnhilde's defiance, her breach of their sacred trust. Brünnhilde comes out of hiding. "Here I am, father," she bravely announces. "Punish me as you will." Wotan snaps that she has brought this on herself: "You were the vehicle of my will, nothing else." He informs her that she can no longer serve him at Valhalla, and he casts her from "the race of immortals." She will be imprisoned in a mountain, "locked in sleep," and the first man who finds her shall have his way with her. The Valkyries plead with Wotan to remove the curse, but his verdict is final. "Your faithless sister is no longer one of your band," he says. He threatens to do the same to them if they interfere, so they flee, leaving Brünnhilde alone with the wrathful Wotan.
Scene 3 begins with Brünnhilde's desolate aria. "Was my trespass so dishonorable that this offense now robs me of all honor?" she asks her father. Despite her anguished appeals to his better nature, Wotan remains steadfast. He describes his "godly dilemma," lamenting his own pain over the severed relationship. She begs him not to disgrace himself by making her a "plaything for mortals." She pleads, "Let him who wins me not be worthless!" She tells him of his unborn grandchild, Siegfried. Wotan repeats his threat to leave her sleeping and defenseless, available to any man who stumbles upon her. She begs him to make certain that only a true hero can have her; they both seem to understand that this hero must be the future Siegfried. Despite Wotan's reluctance, he finally grants her wish. A wall of fire will fend off any cowards who dare approach the rock of her banishment; only a hero will be able to win her. Against heroic surging brass, Wotan bids his favorite daughter farewell forever. As the opera closes, he calls on Loge, the god of fire, to create the protective firewall, then leaves Brünnhilde to await her destiny.