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History and myth

Wagner's 'Götterdämmerung' -
reviewed by
ROBERT ANDERSON

'... a crowning glory from Bertrand de Billy and his superb team ...'

Wagner: Gotterdammerung. © 2005 Opus Arte

To talk history rather than myth for a moment (Wagner was master of both), Götterdämmerung takes place roughly in the middle of the fifth century. Attila the Hun is rampaging in the East, while Theodosius II cowers within the magnificent walls of Constantinople, buying off the Hun with liberal dollops of Nibelung gold. In this Barcelona production, the Norns are got up exactly like the sisters of Theodosius, who shut themselves away from the temptations of the world in the sober habit of nuns. But like the Norns, they spun webs to control much of the civilised world. The Norns do so on a mountain top [Listen -- 'Welch Licht leuchtet dort?' (Prologue), DVD1 chapter 2, 0:00-1:34].

Deborah Polaski as Brünnhilde and John Treleaven as Siegfried in front of the 'world-porthole'. DVD screenshot © 2005
Deborah Polaski as Brünnhilde and John Treleaven as Siegfried in front of the 'world-porthole'. DVD screenshot © 2005

Wagner sent Siegfried forth in full armour; Barcelona provided him with only the selection of rags Mime had managed to piece together in his cave. But musically Wagner dons his fullest panoply, and the Brünnhilde of Deborah Polaski, occasionally moving or acting more magnificently than she sounds, with John Treleaven's Siegfried so desperately in need of a decent tailor, respond accordingly [Listen -- 'O heilige Götter! Hehre Geschlechter!' (Prologue), DVD1 chapter 7, 0:00-1:28]. Their romantic lair, unable to produce a decent outfit, has managed a hugely impressive world-porthole, through which they can view the surroundings and be safe from any peeping Tom.

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Copyright © 17 August 2005 Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt

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