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Lyric's RING continues with SIEGFRIED
Source: Lyric Opera of Chicago
20/10/2018

Join the fearless young Siegfried on his adventure-filled journey to manhood (and discovery of love) over the course of this playful, musically magnificent opera. This is the third part of Richard Wagner’s epic four-part Ring of the Nibelung cycle, of which each opera is a feast on its own. No prior Ring experience is necessary.

The Backstory...and Story

Siegfried is the orphaned son of Siegmund and Sieglinde, the separated-at-birth twins sired by chief god Wotan. He has been raised by the resentful Mime (pron. MEE-muh), brother of Alberich, the Nibelung who stole the Rhinemaidens’ magic gold. Mime had forged an all-powerful Ring and magical Tarnhelm for his bullying brother. The treasures were subsequently stolen from Alberich by Wotan, who yielded them as payment to the giants Fasolt and Fafner (builders of the gods’ fortress, Valhalla). Fafner promptly killed Fasolt, turned himself into a dragon, and retreated to a cave in the forest, where he guards his golden hoard.

The Wanderer (Wotan in disguise) reveals that only one who knows no fear can restore the fragments of Siegfried’s father’s sword. The youth rebuilds the invincible blade. 

Mime sends Siegfried to slay the dragon, which he does easily. Having reflexively tasted the dragon’s blood that splattered his fingers, Siegfried can now read others’ deepest thoughts and understand the languages of animals. A forest bird urges Siegfried to seize the Ring and Tarnhelm, which he does. Realizing that his foster parent intends to kill him and steal the treasures, Siegfried kills Mime. 

Brünnhilde sleeps surrounded by magic fire; she was left there as punishment by her father Wotan, to be awakened only by a fearless hero. Siegfried sets off to find her. Meanwhile, Wotan summons the earth-goddess Erda in hopes of changing destiny, but has to resign himself to whatever his daughter and grandson bring to pass. When Wotan tries to block his way with his spear, Siegfried shatters it, walks through the flames, discovers Brünnhilde, and kisses her; she awakens as a mortal woman (no longer a goddess). Both fearful and inexorably attracted to each other, they fall ecstatically in love.

David Pountney directs Lyric’s new production, which features the work of original set designer Johan Engels (1952-2014), set designer Robert Innes Hopkins, costume designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca, and lighting designer Fabrice Kebour. Production choreographer is Denni Sayers.

The Journey Continues, Propelled by Fearless Artists and Magnificent Music

  • The Lyric Opera Orchestra is led through Wagner’s sweepingly beautiful score by Lyric’s music director Sir Andrew Davis.
  • German tenor Burkhard Fritz makes his American operatic stage debut and role debut as Siegfried with these performances, in which he is onstage for nearly the entire opera. He has triumphed throughout Europe in several other heroic Wagner title roles, including Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Parsifal, Siegmund (Siegfried’s father) in Die Walküre, and Erik/The Flying Dutchman.
  • American soprano Christine Goerke introduced her thrilling Brünnhilde to Lyric audiences last season in Die Walküre and returns to continue her character’s journey in Siegfried. Her Brünnhilde has been acclaimed in Houston, Toronto, and Edinburgh, and this season she brings her portrayal to the Metropolitan Opera in full Ring cycles. Goerke has dazzled Lyric audiences previously as Cassandre/Les Troyens (Berlioz) and the title role/Elektra (R.Strauss).
  • American bass-baritone Eric Owens continues his portrayal of the once-mighty chief god Wotan, currently disguised as The Wanderer, a character of enormous psychological complexity. Owens is celebrated for other Wagner roles including the Ring’s Alberich and the Dutchman, and for wide-ranging portrayals internationally. His previous roles at Lyric also include Porgy/Porgy and Bess (Gershwin), Vodnik/Rusalka (Dvoƙák), and Gen. Groves/Doctor Atomic (Adams).
  • German tenor Matthias Klink makes his Lyric debut as Mime. He was named 2017 Singer of the Year by Opernwelt magazine, and has performed 14 varied major roles over the past five seasons with the Stuttgart Opera in his hometown. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and has performed extensively throughout Europe.
  • American mezzo-soprano Ronnita Miller has made the role of Erda her own, with recent and upcoming performances in Berlin, San Francisco, New York, and Madrid. She is a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin ensemble, where she has sung 27 stylistically varied roles since 2013/14. She is also well known on the jazz scene in Berlin.
  • Korean bass-baritone Samuel Youn riveted Lyric audiences as Alberich/Das Rheingold in his American debut (2016/17). He has since portrayed both Alberich and Wotan at the Edinburgh Festival and Deutsche Oper Berlin respectively. 
  • American soprano Diana Newman, a recent alumna of the Ryan Opera Center, portrays the Forest Bird, who guides young Siegfried. In Das Rheingold, she was Woglinde, one of the Rhinemaidens. Other appearances at Lyric include Trouble in Tahiti, Rigoletto, and Carmen. She is a recent winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Illinois District).
  • American bass Patrick Guetti, a recent alumnus of the Ryan Opera Center, portrays the dragon (and former giant) Fafner, current possessor of the Rhinegold. Previous Lyric appearances include Turandot, a scene from La traviata during the "Celebrating Plácido!" concert, and Eugene Onegin.


To Know Before You Go

  • Siegfried is sung in German with projected English translations above the stage.
  • Two of the four performances are matinees that start at 1pm. The two evening performances start at 6pm.
  • Approximate running time is 5 hours, including two intermissions.
  • Before each performance, ticket-holders can come to the theater an hour before curtain for a free pre-opera talk about the composer, the themes within the music and story, and overall production.
  • This is only the third time that Lyric is presenting Siegfried separate from the full cycle; the last time was in 2003/04 in a completely different production.
  • Wagner adapted Norse mythology and the 12th-century Germanic poem "Niebelunglied" in creating his Ring cycle, which in turn inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Game of Thrones, Xena: Warrior Princess, Valkyrie-based characters in several Marvel Comics series including Thor, The Avengers, and more.
  • There are two contemporary graphic-novel versions of the full Ring cycle: Gil Kane's 1997 version and P. Craig Russell's two-volume 2002 version. There's also Arthur Rackham's 1911-1912 Ring illustrations, compiled into a single volume in 2009.
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