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Thu, 26. Sept 2019, 16:00

Second day of

Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876)

Text and music by Richard Wagner

»The Story of the Youth Who Set Out to Learn Fear«: this well-known fairy-tale title is an apt description for Wagner’s »Siegfried«. A new generation of heroes, no longer bound to the gods and ignorant of the past, starts to powerfully conquer the world. But courage is not everything, as Siegfried comes to realise: he too will experience fear in anticipation of his tragic end.

»Der junge Siegfried« (Young Siegfried), the original title for the second day of the staged festival play, was created over a longer period with a break of several years in which Wagner realised other major projects, such as »Tristan« and the »Meistersinger«. After completing the second act in 1857, he suspended work on the score for twelve years. Wagner’s style had changed – and so the third act seems noticeably denser and darker, with multiple interweaving of subjects and motifs. Wagner’s imagination and inventiveness are unbroken, both in the libretto and music: obvious drama (such as Siegfried’s battle with the dragon and the passage of fire) are accompanied by expressive lyricism, as in the »Waldweben« (Forest Murmurs) passage. Besides this, the orchestra crescendoes to an extraordinary level of sound and brilliance, once again proving Wagner’s skill at dealing with the individual timbres of each instrument.