Götz Friedrich Ring

Deutsche Oper Bicentennial Ring
(Götz Friedrich Production)
Berlin 20–29 Sept 2013
an account by ken quandt

The Götz Friedrich Ring is now the oldest production of Wagner’s Ring scheduled for a future performance, a cycle over five days in January 2014 under the Deutsche Oper’s Music Director Donald Runnicles, which has long been sold out. Only the younger Seattle Ring might outlast it (Impressario Speight Jenkins came onto the stage there, after the final performance last August, to announce that this Ring “will return,” without specifics but with convincing conviction to an adulatory crowd). The Friedrich Ring has also outlived the Metropolitan’s Schenk Ring which premiered a few years later and has since been replaced by the Machine, a replacement that says more about the Metropolitan’s future in TV than the artistic worth of the Schenk Ring it replaced.

The Friedrich production owes much of its longevity to what has lovingly been called its “iconicity,” and the most iconic thing about it is The Tunnel in which the entire opera takes place, by which we are confronted the moment the curtain first rises, even minutes before the low E-flat. This stunning set was designed for presentation at the Deutsche Oper, as this drawing of the opening scene from the early days of its conception, drawn by Set Designer Peter Sykora, shows:

Peter Sykora sketch reproduced with permission of the Deutsche Oper

The diagonal walls and walkways outside the proscenium are those of the Hall on Bismarckstraße. Note how the perspective and these diagonal angles convey the sense that the Hall itself is somehow within the Tunnel – a fact that will become important for our interpretation.

This all-embracing Tunnel is present throughout, somewhat visible at the very least; and after the extended musical retrospective that is the aftermath of the Götterdämmerung comes to an end, the curtain stays up and we face it again, still and dumb, and long enough to wonder whether the curtain will ever fall, or whether perhaps the whole thing will begin all over again. And so a feeling that the Ring somehow always brings about has become visible.

The Tunnel transcends all four operas. It is fixed, but they take place in different places and at times that span generations. And yet it is not some ageless geological formation of the sort that might have been there even before the advent of mankind. It is an artifice, a heavily fortified and coffered tunnel, permanent and indestructible but man-made nevertheless. It is built according to an anonymous but certainly human conception. As to its size it matches the outer boundaries of the proscenium. Perspectively widening to the front, it even threatens to embrace the hall and the audience, a suggestion kept vivid by the smoke-events that quietly come forth past the proscenium into the hall several times during the cycle. Its depth is unfathomable and it is brightly lit from the rear. It represents the mind of Wagner.

The audience notices the Tunnel all along, and more or less, but the characters never do. Our experience of it has a subconscious effect, which I take the liberty to draw out and problematize because doing so enables us to leap to the conception that underlay this brilliant and inimitable stroke of genius, whether Friedrich himself was fully conscious of it or not, which is that the Tunnel mutely but effectively confesses that this Ring which takes place within it, this story only loosely based on German mythology and so pregnant with the themes of social unrest and capitalism of the 19th Century, is also an artifact. The truth is that this story does not, after all, present the truth about god and man – that truth is something we already know about and struggle with outside the hall, living as we do in the Gedächtnis or Legacy of Western History that is filled with little more than the vicissitudes of the relationship between god and man and the ways that relationship has been interpreted, for better and worse, in politics and society. Within the Tunnel there is a second history – I will not say a Second Reality – admittedly a fictional history. By saying that the Ring takes place “nowhere,” as he often did, Friedrich in truth is admitting that it did not “take place” at all. He is saying that the story has a trans-historical truth to it, so that it deserves to vie with the history we actually live in.

And so it does! It is the story of human fear in the face of death, which quickly finds expressions in greed and in violent attempts to stop the flow of time, attitudes and behaviors that, once we observe them in others, cause something else in us to revolt and to choose love instead, as Siegmund and then Brünnhilde so admirably do – even though the choice only hastens their own demise. Wotan loved at first, and then fatefully chose to become exempt of death in Valhalla at love’s expense; he hoped to secure his position against Alberich, first with his Walküres and second with his scheme of the free hero, Siegmund. But early in the story both Siegmund and Brünnhilde chose love instead, against the foil of Alberich who foreswore it. The operation of Wotan’s intention to evade Alberich’s curse by creating something free of his own limitations brings about instead, by what Hegel called the “cunning of reason,” his own comeuppance – a comeuppance that occurs over and over again in the three operas after the Vorabend: in Siegmund and Sieglinde’s escape from Hunding, in Siegmund’s dismissal of Valhalla, in Brünnhilde’s defiance of Wotan’s command, in Siegfried’s discovery of fear and Brünnhilde’s embrace of mortality, in Brünnhilde’s incredulous response to Waltraute, in Siegfried’s underlying remembrance of Brünnhilde that comes back to the surface once the potion is countermanded, and finally in Brünnhilde’s self-sacrifice that cancels Alberich’s curse by returning the gold to the Rhine.

By giving us the Tunnel, Friedrich has given us a place for our experience – has given it a place to “take place.”

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Wotan – Markus Brück
Loge – Burkhard Ulrich
Alberich – Eric Owens
Mime – Peter Maus
Fasolt – Reinhard Hagen
Fricka – Doris Soffel
Erda – Dana Beth Miller

The curtain goes up and we see The Tunnel with muted lighting from the rear: it is very deep – indeterminately deep. The prelude has not begun: there are visuals but complete silence.

kranichphoto © Stiftung Stadtmuseum reproduced with permission of the Deutsche Oper

Then the music starts. In the mid-foreground are stationary pointed heaps; soon enough they begin to move slowly and we sense that they are living beings covered with white sheets. Rattle’s version of the E-flat major arpeggios is a bit syncopated – cute and casual rather than stately.


Among the sheeted figures come forward one or two who take the sheets off and become the Rhine Daughters. Alberich emerges from cloth on the floor of the stage. There is much scrim and fabric creating translucent wave effects so that the depth and coffered ceiling of the Tunnel disappear behind. Alberich’s struggle is not credible: there is no up and down except upstage and downstage. At the very end of the scene we see through the scrim and fabric and behind the scene, a standing figure, facing us: it must be Wotan already watching. From this we learn something about the entire place of the Tunnel, that it is a place of all places, a meta-place where all the various actions “take place.”


The gods wear white partial face masks – more than eyemasks but less than persona masks, masks they will lose, as they lose much else over the course of the evening. They are elegant and dressed in white. The colors of the stage are silver grey to black. With the entry of the Giants from the rear we learn that persons coming from the rear of the Tunnel cast huge shadows on the ceiling of the Tunnel long before they arrive, shadows that decrease in size until the persons themselves become visible rising over a small crest in the Tunnel’s floor. This optical phenomenon occurring at a character’s arrival or departure will carry a variety of dramatic effects – as for instance the ominous arrival of Wotan at Walk.3.1 – just as the departures will be supplied with extra emphasis as an aftermath of the character’s presence, as with Fafner’s departure dragging the booty in Scene 4 of this opera. The Giants wear elevator shoes about a foot tall, hidden by their robes – just the right amount to be giant but preserving perfectly credible mobility. The production is characterized by just such wonderful and small touches as these. Fafner at the first entrance does a little distracted dancing to the music as if he wonders why he is in an opera, suggesting the giants really are dumb, but the shtick is quickly dropped. Loge arrives just a little early and ducks out unnoticed until he can make just the right entrance a few seconds later. In all productions the audience ends up feeling a special bond with Loge (which they always show with high applause), partly because he speaks directly to them at the very close of the opera: in this case he begins his special winking relationship with the audience from the very get-go.


The transition back to earth includes appearance of a large amount of smoke filling the stage and moving forward over the orchestra and into the hall. One notices its presence outside the stage as the diagonal walls to left and right of the proscenium in the hall at the Deutsche Oper lose their brown color and almost disappear. For all its thick presence, the audience amazingly does not sneeze or cough; and, equally amazing, the smoke quickly disappears when it should, another smart or magical bit of staging in this production. Alberich in the beginning part of this scene steals the show, as always he should – his complaint against Wotan, highly just and delivered from a position of weakness, which is foreshadowed by the complaint of Fasolt against Wotan in the First Scene, justifies the power of his curse. Eric Owens has a great voice for this character because of the spectrum of sentiments he can express with his unique breadth of timbre-flavors. His Alberich (as at the Met and San Francisco) was deeply sympathetic for being so human no matter how ugly his emotions and his remarks. His first “Bin ich nun frei?,” fraught with anger and frustration, began as an inarticulate grunt.

The Nibelungen (played with a piercing scream by the Deutsche Oper’s Children’s Chorus) arrive, to bring the gold, from the rear of the stage preceded again by large shadows on the tunnel ceiling. They are back-lit in striking silhouette, with bright flashlights shining intrusively into our faces (why is unclear). Fafner departs to the rear dragging his booty in a large tarp, and while Wotan and Fricka now have a lovey-dovey duet stage left and front they do not notice his very salient shadow becoming larger and larger on the ceiling of the tunnel over their heads. At the end the gods are facing the far end of the tunnel and walk, in place, toward Valhalla in the distance, a little off to the right so they will not step on Fasolt, while the walls of the Tunnel come to be banded with colored lighting to produce the rainbow effect – another very good trick in the production, eloquent and simple:

kranichphoto © Stiftung Stadtmuseum reproduced with permission of the Deutsche Oper

After the performance of Sept 20, our Mime, the much-loved Peter Maus, was presented an award on the stage for his thirtieth anniversary as a member of the company of the Deutsche Oper.

WALKÜRE – Sept 22
Siegmund – Simon O’Neill
Hunding – Reinhard Hagen
Wotan – Thomas Johannes Mayer
Sieglinde – Eva-Maria Westbroek
Brünnhilde – Evelyn Herlitzius
Fricka – Doris Soffel


The entire scene is set on a dark stage and Rattle chooses a slow tempo. Hunding’s house is shallow and wide, with a long table across the middle and doors at both ends. Sieglinde (Eva-Maria Westbroek, strong from performances of Sieglinde at the Met and San Francisco) is already looking out the door. Siegmund (Simon O’Neill) shows up with a strong voice to match Sieglinde’s, but Rattle’s pace and the strangely low lighting keeps the electrical charge between them from increasing as it should in this Act. Their passion fails to build. It seems the two of them rue their previous lives even more than they welcome the new possibility of escape. Their wounds seem to prevent them from forgetting; they are more thrown together by their rebellious impulses than drawn together by the love they discover for each other.


At the beginning, with Brünnhilde, Wotan is portrayed as “classless” and gruff in comportment. As in the Rheingold Doris Soffel depicts Fricka with a plangent vibrato that gives way at the right moments to pure and focused notes that pierce the heart, a perfect characterization. It is a virtue of this production that she is kept for both operas (on the other hand, we will have three Wotans). She is again dressed elegantly, and seems a goddess – a cut above everyone – in contrast to the gruff and crass Wotan. But his ensuing Monologue was very dramatically sung (Thomas Mayer tonight) and well-directed, too – I have never felt the depth of Wotan’s humiliation so deeply as here.


The twins’ less than complete passion at the end of Act One is now continued by the misgivings Sieglinde voices about her affair (though Siegmund feels none). The misgivings of Sieglinde are perhaps a sort of foil for the misgivings of Brünnhilde in Sieg.3.3. Herlitzius’s Brünnhilde in the Todesverkündigung quickly turns against Wotan’s wish, as the plot requires, but somehow too quickly: she is not so good an actress, and also disarmingly diminutive for Brünnhilde, and her articulation often suffers from the way she belts out the notes.


The Walküres wear black leather and necromantically manage the heroes on hospital beds arrayed on both sides of the stage. There is really nothing wrong with this. The fact that it was roundly booed in the 1989 presentation that the Deutsche Oper brought to Washington DC is a sobering indication of how far we have come along, for better and for worse, over the last few decades. Indeed, after this evening’s performance I met an older and very experienced Wagner lover who was positively relieved, after Bayreuth this year, to be going to a Ring so “traditional”!


The global transformation within Wotan from angry dejection to loving self-sacrifice was pulled off very well during the course of this scene. The lead-up to his embrace with Brünnhilde was done with particular pathos – the two of them looking across to each other as they walk, distractedly, toward the back, on parallel paths, thinking only of each other and not where they are going, able neither to spread further nor come closer, but then (in tandem with the music) succeeding to turn and come to the center and embrace!

The immolation was beautiful and grand (discs on the floor of the stage fill with fire). The final outcry of Wotan standing in the center front was magnificent, and he exited the stage not to the rear as other characters have done, but onto the diagonal catwalk outside the Tunnel and the proscenium, stage right. The exit to the outside of the Tunnel denotes the end of Wotan as an actor in the story: next he will appear as the Wanderer who “watches but does not do.”

It must be said of Rattle’s conducting, at this point in the cycle, that his orchestra has often galloped headlong like a gang of horses out of step with each other, though they succeed to stay together as a bunch. The singers have several times become detached from the orchestra – maybe five times in the first two operas. There is a parallel sort of disconnect caused by the singers’ continual failure to find the spotlights – something that surely can be corrected by rehearsal. The published programs for the Friedrich Ring invite such a comment as this from a Reviewer, since all through the years the official program has included an archive of self-conscious “Proben notierts” – minutes of the original rehearsals – edited by Andrea Hilgenstock, that have by now lost their spontaneity. Perhaps they should be updated!

Siegfried – Lance Ryan
Mime – Burkhard Ulrich
Der Wanderer – Samuel Youn
Alberich – Eric Owens
Erda – Ewa Wolak
Brünnhilde – Evelyn Herlitzius
Waldvogel – Siobhan Stagg


Mime has made a jolly and colorful home for young Siegfried; we perceive it as a zone in the Tunnel that temporarily hides most of that larger structure for the sake of deceiving the lad long enough that Mime can bring him up and supply him with a sword with which to kill Fafner.

kranichphoto © Stiftung Stadtmuseum reproduced with permission of the Deutsche Oper

Mime is a smaller personality than his brother Alberich, who has foresworn love too sincerely than still to be able to “do” baby decorations. The decorations remind us of Mime’s complaint in the Rheingold that in the happy old days the Nibelungen could make trinkets for their wives, but this has become unthinkable now that Alberich has enslaved them. He keeps score in the contest with Wanderer with colored geometrical toys. Shallow hope and venom sit side by side within him, a combination that will lead to his undoing in Act 2, when Siegfried finally is enabled to see through his doubletalk.


The stage is unnecessarily dark and the characters often seem to fail to find the spotlights. The Woodbird wonderfully appears full sized suspended in mid-air.


The Wanderer’s confrontation with Erda is masterfully carried out – there is none of the groundless nostalgia for lost love we sometimes see. As the scene opens the stage on which he stands rises up to reveal her museum-grotto beneath. They stay on their separate levels with Wotan “wakening” her from above. She is not a computer or a mainframe data-center as she has been made to be in recent productions. Rather, she sleeps – separate from the hurly-burly of human action; her sleep is dreaming – a vision of truth; her dreams are thinking – truth that is thought; and by the Norns the sequential course of her truth-thought is articulated into the sequence of events that is history. Wagner’s conception is based on the old idea of order as unwinding and weaving (Latin ordo) where time emerges from amorphous eternity – not some silly sense of computational google-power made of ones and zeroes. Wotan’s attempt to persuade her – or force her – to stop the flow of her thought is a preposterously violent conception; but at the same time the whole natural order of the universe is beginning to unravel and so her inability to change things is made irrelevant anyway. It is an index of Wotan’s decline that he tries to force her, and an index of hers that the human events now become clouded in her mind. Of course they operate on two levels.

The separation of the two should remind us of the worn-out marriage of Wotan and Fricka. Moreover, the pair of them serve as foil for the coming discovery or creation of love by Brünnhilde and Siegfried. Ewa Wolak’s Erda, with its throaty depth and rich tones, was as otherworldly as Eva Podles’s used to be, and a great improvement on Dana Beth Miller’s Erda in the Rheingold. Samuel Youn’s Wanderer was appropriately desperate and bone tired, left only with his legato. He is trying to force one last project and it fails, so that his failure against Siegfried in the next scene is a foregone conclusion.


The foregone conclusion comes true a little early. While the Wanderer is waiting stage right for Siegfried to show up stage left, his spear breaks apart in his hands and half falls to the floor with a loud clank.

In the blocking of the scene the dramaturge nicely brought out the symmetrical disconnect of the two characters, the way each laughs at the other and each misunderstands the other. The disconnect sorely disappoints the Wanderer but only delays Siegfried. By a sort of dramatic irony we see in the final moment that Wotan’s attempt to create a hero independent of himself has succeeded against his wishes. Somehow also the director brings out the analogy between this “recognition” scene and the recognition in Act One of Walküre, and begins to bring to the surface the great annular or “ring” structure of Die Walküre and Siegfried, the two operas named after the only successful lovers. Just as Hunding finds out (soberly and correctly) that the stranger in his house is truly his enemy and in fact the man he has just been pursuing, so does the Wanderer’s unguarded remark that his spear once shattered Notung spark Siegfried’s (hastily reached and deeply incorrect) conclusion that the man before him is nothing but his mortal enemy and not on a deeper level the person who caused him to exist. Off he runs, half-cocked and never to return, behind the scene and into the Tunnel, which reappears. Its re-appearance between the scenes has become an admonition that the action is taking place in a larger force-field than all the characters know, all the more ominous now that Wotan has been defeated. Siegfried hastens to find Brünnhilde but only hastens to his doom, though we realize we will be spared that tragic outcome for a little while longer.


He uncovers Brünnhilde and then, seeing she is “no man,” hides behind a rock. After the first two acts, in which the orchestra was disappointingly lackluster, Rattle now succeeds to manage the progress from the delicate music of Brünnhilde’s awakening through the complicated start-and-stop dialectic of opposites that constitutes the ensuing scene. The dramaturgy for this multilayered tale of a goddess and a boy turning into a man and a woman through the process of falling in love is carried off with a relatively credible Personregie, except perhaps for the final decision of Brünnhilde to give in. This moment is always hard to portray: even the libretto leaves a patronizing tone in Brünnhilde’s laughing acquiescence to Siegfried’s advances (O kindischer Held! O herrlicher Knabe!) before they break into their final duet. Once again I felt that Herlitzius flipped too quickly.

Siegfried is made out to be a fool for love. One of his suspenders has fallen down his arm and he looks like a country boy from Li’l Abner. He spends most of the scene dejected and hurt and only tentatively bounces back, though the music depicts his resolve as resourceful and strong. Our Brünnhilde on the other hand, pushing her voice, in black leather, distractingly redheaded, and (I am sorry) too small, fails to embody the role she is now given. How, in the first place, can a rebellious teenage girl pull off a transformation from goddess to mortal and from a mother figure to a woman? It would have been better if she had aged during her sleep, as she often is made to do, and better that she should appear awakening, as she often does, in a white robe. Still, we can thank the director for not padding the scene with the frivolous and embarrassed cat-and-mouse play we have seen lately in the Zambello and the Cassier productions.

By the time of the final bars they have joined each other on the rock platform, the very place Wotan had put her to sleep and placed her helmet and shield upon her the night before. With each of their triumphant pairs of lines in the closing duet she strips off her outer garments while he tosses her shield and spear to the side. At the final note he falls upon her to a blackout.

Siegfried – Lance Ryan
Gunther – Markus Brück
Alberich – Eric Owens
Hagen – Hans-Peter König
Brünnhilde – Evelyn Herlitzius
Gutrune – Heidi Melton
Waltraute – Anne Sofie von Otter
First Norn – Ronnita Miller
Second Norn – Ulrike Helzel
Third Norn – Heidi Melton


The Norns are managing large strips of red fabric that continue off stage on both sides and come back in, seeming somehow to be connected to one another.The music needs to be outsized from the very first chords – all the notes must be made to cast shadows – but now Rattle’s flaccidity returns and the music has a completely avoidable weakness and vagueness. The needed effect is not achieved.


By the transitional music between the Norns’ Scene and the return to Brünnhilde’s rock, we must be given the sense that although the old order of the world has begun to unravel irretrievably, a new order has arrived, based on nothing but the love relationship of Brünnhilde and Siegfried, that can safely forget the past and never look back – that “love is all we need” even despite Siegfried’s shallowness and despite Brünnhilde’s demotion to mortality. But again Rattle’s splotchy and elastic control fail to establish this argument in its full dimensions.

As to the staging, Brünnhilde and Siegfried seem bored in the aftermath of their union. Wanly she sits in mid-stage left as he walks forward from the rear as if to greet the morning. At first he does not notice her but as soon as he does they of course fall into each other’s arms and return each other’s affections. Brünnhilde is more diminutive than ever, and only now has switched into white. Her “Auf neuen Taten” hardly announces that she is handing over her divine powers to a new stand-in for herself, though this is the theme of the libretto and the meaning of the entire scene. There is something uncertain and incomplete in their relationship, as there had been in the case of Siegmund and Sieglinde in Walküre Act One, which this scene must be shown to ring.


The Gibichung Hall consists of a backdrop within the now barely visible Tunnel. By another wonderful touch there are inner walls in the Hall with magnifying glass in them so that a character standing behind (or hiding behind) is magnified to a goofy degree. This scene after all is entirely a matter of characters revealing who they are while they are trying to hide it. Hagen of course starts with the envy theme, arousing Gunther’s emulousness. His technique resembles that of Loge in Rheingold, including the description of some far off person worth envying or desiring (Alberich ~ Brünnhilde & Siegfried); and like Loge he draws the wife into the conversation by a separate discussion on the side. Inevitably we compare these siblings to Wotan and Fricka (in fact they wear a royal white as the latter had worn divine white in Rheingold), to Siegmund and Sieglinde, and to Siegfried and Brünnhilde, and in each case the comparison is derogatory. To the first they compare as rulers (but only of the Rhine), and like them their rule needs to be protected (for summer leads to fall: note Hagen’s “In sommerlich reifer Stärke”). To the second they compare as analogously alliterative brother and sister (but their inner weakness and shame would never enable them openly to defy convention). To the third they are compared by the ensuing plot since they are going to marry them. This last comparison therefore creates two more: the love of Siegfried and Brünnhilde as the measure of the love of Siegfried and Gutrune and the love of Gunther and Brünnhilde. The ingredient of Gunther complaining to Hagen that he has raised a futile goal (Brünnhild gewanne nur er) is of a piece with his blaming him for failing to help him get all that Hagen’s wisdom is capable of getting for him. The potion accelerates what would have happened anyway, as Dahlhaus says. As we intuited at the end of Siegfried, 3.2, Siegfried is blustering into a real world of which he has no understanding: even why he has entered it he does not understand. All he knows, really, is his love for Brünnhilde, and the new life she has ushered him into, but even this he will suddenly forget.

Markus Bruck with his rounded voice is a much better Gunther (here) than he was a Wotan in the Rheingold. Heidi Melton’s Gutrune nicely balances and modulates between guilt and pitiable weakness. Hans-Peter König with his large and stentorian Hagen actually led Rattle’s feckless orchestra through his solo at the end of the scene. The staging had him stay ominously motionless in his chair, stage right, through the rest of the Act (the Waltraute scene and the rape by Siegfried/Gunther – a good 45 minutes!), where also he will be sitting when the curtain rises in 2.1 (“Schläfst du Hagen mein Sohn?”) – for he is the controlling presence in the plot.

As to the balance of the Götterdämmerung the Brünnhilde is fortunately the only important weakness though Herlitzius gave it all she had. Ryan has perhaps sung too many Rings this bicentennial year, and by the end he was yelling, but he pulled off his high notes in his recollection scene. The orchestra finished tight and strong.


As to our three Wotans, Brück [Rheingold] had a voice fine and polished but perhaps not imposing as we might expect: but it is here after all that we learn that Wotan is nothing but his Vorträge. Thomas Johannes Mayer was however suitably strong for the needs of Die Walküre and also a very good actor (well-directed in the Monologue and the closing scene); and Youn was especially fine in the more resigned and contemplative role of the Wanderer in Siegfried,, with a transparent legato that reminded me of José van Dam. It was one of the intelligent dimensions of this production already rich in intelligence that there could be three Wotans that re-enforce the development of the character rather than a single one merely to maintain the illusion of Wotan being the same character. Doris Soffel’s Fricka was a real highlight, mixing a distraught and emotionally shattered vibrato with the remembrance of a truer and purer vision in her steady notes at the rising close of her scene in Die Walküre. O’Neill and Westbroek brought their heroic characters to life and disappeared, leaving a strong aftermath in our ears. Owens as of this year owns the role of Alberich, because of his uniquely sympathetic interpretation. Simon Rattle’s conducting was characterized by frequent carelessness or under-rehearsal and also by sudden flashes of insight. He was adequate overall, but regrettably missed large opportunities. I found the first two acts of Walküre and the first act of Siegfried, tending toward the ponderous and loud, a boring combination; but the third acts of both were convincing and forceful.

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Those who cannot forgive Wagner for overdrawing, overstating and overworking his ideas – and there are justifiably many of these – might view the Tunnel as an acknowledgment and confession that they are right. For them, the Tunnel will consign the story to a fortified underground since it could not take place in the light of day. On the other hand, for those who feel the call of Wagner’s crucial theme of mortality transcended by love and who will undergo the transformation within themselves during the course of the cycle, the Tunnel plays the role of a protective vault, as if it were their own cranium in which these thoughts and themes, for better or worse, can evolve to their deadly and impossible conclusion over the course of fifteen hours. For these persons there is no inkling that the Tunnel is an underground place. At the end of this performance, when the music of the Götterdämmerung’s postlude echoed into silence and we were confronted with the same ghostly figures of the gods as motionless heaps in the Tunnel that we saw at the very beginning, we were uncertain just what to do: how long would the lights stay on? There was a bit of applause but it did not catch on. Then a man cried out “Viva Götz!” and then another. The lights went out and the applause began. These two men, and the audience that went on to confirm their cries with applause, were of that latter persuasion.

There will always be such persons, and they will always lionize the iconic Götz Friedrich Ring!