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Wagner's Die Walkure

Lorin Maazel (Conductor) Photo:Metropolitan Opera

Lorin Maazel (Conductor) Photo:Metropolitan Opera

Live from the Met

Saturday 2 February 2008 17:30-22:30 (Radio 3)

After 45 years' absence, Lorin Maazel returns to the Met to conduct Wagner's Die Walkure. Lisa Gasteen, Deborah Voigt and Clifton Forbis lead the cast as the first human beings step into the limelight in part two of Wagner's epic Ring Cycle. Siegmund and Sieglinde are brother and sister - but by the time they discover that, they've fallen in love. Their father Wotan, the arrogant leader of the Gods, is forced to disown them by his nagging wife Fricka, who's horrified by their relationship that breaks all laws. But then comes the crucial turning-point of the whole Ring Cycle. Brunnhilde - the Valkyrie of the title, who's another of Wotan's army of illegitimate children - is so moved by Siegmund's love for Sieglinde that she decides to defy her father and help the lovers.

Presented by Margaret Juntwait from New York and she is joined in the broadcast booth by performer, director and writer Ira Siff as guest commentator.

This evening's broadcast will include the legendary Met Opera Quiz (click on the link for information on how to send in your questions) and live interviews with the cast backstage in the intervals.

Duration:

5 hours

CAST AND SYNOPSIS

Brunnhilde ...... Lisa Gasteen (soprano)
Sieglinde ...... Deborah Voigt (soprano)
Fricka ...... Michelle DeYoung (mezzo-soprano)
Siegmund ...... Clifton Forbis (tenor)
Wotan ...... James Morris (bass)
Hunding, Sieglinde's husband ...... Mikhail Petrenko (bass)
Helmwige ...... Claudia Waite (soprano)
Gerhilde ...... Kellie Cae Hogan (soprano)
Ortlinde ...... Wendy Bryn Harmer (soprano)
Siegrune ...... Leann Sandel-Pantaleo (mezzo-soprano)
Waltraute ...... Laura Wlasak Nolen (mezzo-soprano)
Grimgerde ...... Edyta Kulczak (mezzo-soprano)
Rossweisse ...... Mary Phillips (mezzo-soprano)
Schwertleite ...... Jane Bunnell (mezzo-soprano)
Chorus and Orchestra of the New York Metropolitan Opera
Lorin Maazel (conductor)

ACT I.
As a storm rages, Siegmund, pursued by enemies, stumbles exhausted into an unfamiliar house. Sieglinde finds him lying by the hearth, and the two feel an immediate attraction. But they are soon interrupted by Sieglinde's husband, Hunding, who asks the stranger who he is. Calling himself "Woeful," Siegmund tells of a disaster-filled life ("Friedmund darf ich nicht heissen"), only to learn that Hunding is a kinsman of his foes. Hunding, before retiring, tells his guest they will fight to the death in the morning.

Left alone, Siegmund calls on his father, Walse, for the sword he once promised him. Sieglinde reappears, having given Hunding a sleeping potion. She tells of her wedding, at which a one-eyed stranger thrust into a tree a sword that has since resisted every effort to pull it out ("Der Manner Sippe"). Sieglinde confesses her unhappiness to Siegmund. He embraces her and vows to free her from her forced marriage to Hunding. As moonlight floods the room, Siegmund compares their feeling to the marriage of love and spring ("Wintersturme"). Sieglinde hails him as "Spring" ("Du bist der Lenz") but asks if his father was really "Wolf," as he said earlier. When Siegmund gives his father's name as Walse instead, Sieglinde recognizes him as Siegmund, her twin brother. He pulls the sword from the tree and claims Sieglinde as his bride, rejoicing in the union of the Walsungs.

ACT II.


High in the mountains, Wotan, leader of the gods, tells his warrior daughter, the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, that she must defend his mortal son Siegmund in his upcoming battle with Hunding. Leaving joyfully to do his bidding ("Hojotoho!"), the Valkyrie passes Fricka, Wotan's wife and the goddess of marriage. Fricka insists that Wotan must defend Hunding's marriage rights against Siegmund. She ignores his argument that Siegmund could save the gods by winning back the Ring from the dragon Fafner. When Wotan realizes he is caught in his own trap-his power will leave him if he does not enforce the law-he agrees to his wife's demands. After Fricka has left in triumph, the frustrated god tells the returning Brunnhilde about the theft of the gold and Alberich's curse on it ("Als junger Liebe"). Brunnhilde is shocked to hear her father, his plans in ruins, order her to fight for Hunding. Then, alone in the darkness, she withdraws as Siegmund and Sieglinde approach.

Siegmund comforts his distraught bride, and watches over her when she falls asleep. Brunnhilde appears to him as if in a vision, telling him he will soon go to Valhalla ("Siegmund! Sieh auf mich!"). He tells her he will not leave Sieglinde and threatens to kill himself and his bride if his sword has no power against Hunding. Brunnhilde, moved, decides to defy Wotan and help him. She vanishes. Siegmund bids farewell to Sieglinde when he hears the approaching Hunding's challenge. When Siegmund is about to win, however, Wotan appears and shatters his sword, leaving him to be killed by Hunding. Brunnhilde escapes with Sieglinde and the broken sword. Wotan contemptuously fells Hunding with a wave of his hand and leaves to punish Brunnhilde for her disobedience.

ACT III.

On the Valkyries' Rock, Brunnhilde's eight warrior sisters-who have gathered there briefly, bearing slain heroes to Valhalla- are surprised to see her enter with Sieglinde. When they hear she is fleeing Wotan's wrath, they are afraid to hide her. Sieglinde is numb with despair until Brunnhilde tells her she bears Siegmund's child. Eager to be saved, she receives the pieces of the sword from Brunnhilde and thanks her rescuer, then rushes off into the forest to hide from Wotan. When the god appears, he sentences Brunnhilde to become a mortal woman, silencing her sisters' objections by threatening to do the same to them. Left alone with her father, Brunnhilde pleads that in disobeying his orders she was really doing what he wished ("War es so schmahlich"). Wotan will not give in: she must lie in sleep, a prize for any man who finds her. But as his anger abates she asks the favor of being surrounded in sleep by a wall of fire that only the bravest hero can pierce. Both sense this hero must be the child that Sieglinde will bear. Sadly renouncing his daughter ("Leb' wohl"), Wotan kisses Brunnhilde's eyes with sleep and mortality before summoning Loge, the god of fire, to encircle the rock. As flames spring up, the departing Wotan invokes a spell forbidding the rock to anyone who fears his spear (Fire Music).

Courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera

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