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Once Siegfried has paddled his skiff towards Worms (even now there is a statue of Hagen on the local river-bank), he is centrepiece of a world he cannot possibly understand. The Barcelona Gunther, foppish and helpless in the hands of Matti Salminen's grimly efficient Hagen, was the previous Wotan and Wanderer, Falk Struckmann, having come down to earth with loss of character if not voice. At once he consults Hagen's superior wisdom or cunning [Listen -- 'Wen rätst du nun zu frein' (Act 1), DVD1 chapter 10, 0:23-2:05]. His hideous plot, aimed at obtaining the Ring, is persuasively expounded; Siegfried shall gain Brünnhilde for Gunther and then marry the Gutrune of Elisabete Matos, straight out of 1930s Hollywood, manifestly relieved at having given up the role of a cloistered Norn.

Falk Struckmann as Gunther. DVD screenshot © 2005
Falk Struckmann as Gunther. DVD screenshot © 2005

It is in vain that the Valkyrie Waltraute (Julia Juon, also a retired Norn) visits her ex-sister and urges her to return the Ring to the Rhinemaidens, thus sparing the gods a final cremation and guaranteeing a greener future for the troubled world [Listen -- 'Welch' banger Träume Mären' (Act 1), DVD1 chapter 21, 1:19-2:39]. All too soon the world-porthole collapses with a hideous crash, and Siegfried arrives as if Gunther, disguised by the Tarnhelm of Alberich. Hagen, doubly ironic, summons the tribal Gibichungs to a wedding he knows will be catastrophic, pretending imminent danger to the ancestral hall [Listen -- 'Hoiho! Ihr Gibichsmannen' (Act 2), DVD2 chapter 5, 0:55-2:00]. Wagner dismisses all his self-denying theories to allow his warrior chorus let rip.

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Copyright © 17 August 2005 Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt


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