Siegfried is the third installment in Richard Wagner's series Der Ring des Nibelungen ("The Ring of the Nibelung"), otherwise known as the Ring Cycle. Along with the other operas, Das Rheingold ("The Rhine Gold"), Die Walkure ("The Valkyrie"), and Gotterdammerung ("Twilight of the Gods"), Siegfried tells the epic story (based on Old Norse myth) of the forging of the mighty ring, the conception and life of the hero Siegfried, and the ultimate fate of the gods of Valhalla.
Musically, Siegfried is densely orchestrated with many layers forming a rich texture (Wagner wrote for a huge orchestra), and the music grows more and more complex as the cycle proceeds. Additionally, each opera is through-composed, meaning that every act is its own complete piece of music with no breaks for spoken dialogue or recitative. This ambitious undertaking has proven worthwhile as the Ring Cycle has been highly praised throughout the years. Siegfried premiered at Germany's Bayreuth Festspielhaus on August 16, 1876, as part of the first performance of the Ring Cycle in its entirety, and continues to this day to be a hugely popular entry in the operatic repertoire. Get your Siegfried tickets today and be a part of the culture of the Ring!Plot Synopsis:
Act I: In his workshop, a cavern in a forest near the dragon Fafner's lair, the dwarf Mime is hard at work forging a sword for Siegfried, a hero so strong that he breaks every sword he is given. When Siegfried returns from the forest with a newly-slain bear, he demands a new sword, which he soon breaks, and enters a fit of anger. Mime responds with a reminder of all that he has given him and taught him, but the young man remains insolent, demanding to know his true parentage. Mime reveals that he has raised Siegfried ever since he took in his mother, Sieglinde, and she died giving birth. He shows Siegfried the shards of his father's sword, Nothung, but says he does not possess the powers to re-forge it. Siegfried leaves and an old man who calls himself the Wanderer (the god Wotan in disguise) arrives. The man offers to play a game of riddles to determine if Mime is obligated offer the customary hospitality to his guest. Though the man wins, Mime still turns him away, and so he is forced to wager his own head on another game. For his riddle, the man asks who can make the blade that can destroy the dragon Fafner, and Mime can not answer. The Wanderer spares him and tells him the answer: the man that knows no fear. That is the man to whom Mime's life is now owed. As the Wanderer leaves, Siegfried returns and Mime realizes that he must be the man the Wanderer spoke of. Unless he can teach Siegfried fear, he will kill Mime as predicted by the mysterious old man. He hopes to teach this lesson by bringing him to Fafner. To vanquish the dragon, Siegfried himself re-forges Nothung; meanwhile, Mime brews a poison to feed Siegfried after he has slain the dragon.
Act II: At the entrance to Fafner's cave, Alberich is keeping watch. Alberich is Mime's brother who stole the Rhine Gold and forged the infamous ring that has the power to rule the world, and now he waits for an opportunity to steal the ring back from Fafner. The Wanderer arrives and Alberich instantly recognizes him as Wotan, his old enemy, but he assures Alberich that he is merely observing. Alberich tells the dragon that a young hero is coming to slay him, but that he will stop the confrontation in return for the ring. Fafner confidently refuses the offer, saying that he will simply devour any attacker. At the break of day, Mime and Siegfried arrive. On his way to confront the dragon, Siegfried befriends a woodbird in a tree, playing a song on his reed pipe, and then on his horn, which draws the dragon out. Siegfried easily kills Fafner, but in his final breaths, he warns him to beware of treachery. When Siegfried finds his hands are being burned by the dragon's blood, he brings them to his mouth, and he soon finds that he can understand the song of the woodbird. On the woodbird's advice, he takes the ring and the magical Tarnhelm that grants its wearer the powers of transfiguration, teleportation, and invisibility. When he emerges and complains to Mime that he still does not know fear, he finds that the dragon's blood has also given him the power to read thoughts. He hears that Mime means to poison him so stabs him to death with Nothung, puts his body into the treasure cave, and closes off the cave with Fafner's remains. The woodbird then tells Siegfried of a woman on a mountain surrounded by magic fire. Intrigued, he heads off, hoping to learn something from her.
Act III: The sleeping woman is the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, the savior of Siegfried's parents. Wotan appears near her rock and calls upon Erda, the goddess of the earth. He tells her he doesn't fear the end of the gods anymore; rather, he hopes for it. He is happy to leave his legacy to Siegfried (his grandson) and Brunnhilde (the two gods' offspring). He foresees that they will perform the work that will redeem the world. Siegfried arrives, and Wotan (as the Wanderer) questions him about his journeys and his sword. Siegfried responds disrespectfully and when the Wanderer tries to block his path, he shatters the god's spear. Realizing that his power is withering, he disappears and Siegfried continues up the mountain. He moves through the ring of fire and, upon seeing the armored body, assumes it to be a man. But when he removes the armor, he finally experiences fear at seeing a woman for the first time. He summons all his courage and kisses her, breaking her magical slumber. At first afraid of losing her immortality, she soon gives in to the earthly passion and embraces her humanity in Siegfried's arms.Run Time: Approximately 5 hours with 2 intermissions Advisory: Due to length, format, and some adult themes, recommended for teens and older. Creative Team: Music and Libretto by Richard Wagner