Oh Lord It's the Ring Cycle Part II - Die Walkure
8/13/13 - Valkyries, Incest & Walls of Fire Oh My!
Well we're starting to get into the big stuff now. Last night's opera was 3 1/2 hours long and a lot of stuff happened. I'm going to do my best to keep this shorter than the time it took to watch it.
ACT 1 - Opening music includes snippets of everyone's favorite Flight of the Valkyries, and it's hard not to get charged. I realize how much Wagner's music has not only been used in movies, but blatantly "inspired" pretty much every film soundtrack that uses orchestration since the 1940s.
The scene is a man running through the woods at night looking desperate. He comes upon a cottage, lets himself in and collapses on the floor. He sings that he hopes the owners will honor the rules of being polite to a guest. And I'm thinking there are limits.
A lovely young woman comes out and the guy and the girl are immediately sparking off each other. She says this is her husband Hodor's house. It's not really Hodor. I can't remember. A Lot of Stuff Happened Last Night! The guy is all oh I don't want to get you in trouble, I'll leave, and she's all like my life is already misery and despair, there's nothing you could do that would make it worse. (Don't say sh*t like that honey. You're in an opera.)
The woman's husband not-Hodor is out in the woods hunting this guy who killed somebody, who is the guy who just showed up at their home. The lost guy is bummed because he lost his sword and armor, and his father, the great Wolf, promised him a sword in his hour of need. Then not-Hodor shows up and even though he and Wolf jr figure out pretty quick that they're the droids each other is looking for, Hodor says he'll honor the laws of hospitality for one night, but in the morning Wolf jr is going to die. Then Hodor goes off to bed.
Then unhappy lady comes out and says she's drugged her husband and by the way, there's a sword stuck in this tree over here which some guy came and put there and no one's been able to pull it out. Wolf jr pulls it out and yay! He has a sword. Then Wolf jr and sad lady get serious about how much they're digging on each other. They dig each other because they remind each other of each other, your voice is my voice, your eyes are my eyes, and they realize that they are twins separated at birth! Oh, very Luke and Leia,except, what's that? Ew! Ew! EWWWWWW! I was troubled by the term "Sister Wife" when I heard it on the Lifetime show about polygamists. IT'S MORE TROUBLING HERE!
In the midst of this the sad lady is all your name is not Wolf jr! It is Siegmund, and her name is Sieglinde.
Then there's some twittering about springtime and rolling around on the grass and then it's intermission, to give you time to digest all that.
Deep breath. We're a third of the way through.
ACT 2 - So, we open, for no reason that I can figure out, back at the cottage, but Sieg Guy & Gal are gone as is Hodor. The Head God guy from last night, who's name is Wotan, is talking with his best battle chick Brunhilde, basically saying, ok, I gave Sieg-dude the sword. You make sure he wins his battle with Hodor. And Brunhilde's all Wheee! I LOVE FIGHTING! I LOVE HEROES! I LOVE HELPING YOUR HEROES WIN! And Woton's all, you're the best daughter a god could have! And Brunhilde's all, oh damn, your wife is coming and she looks mad, I'm Audi. Later pops!
And Woton's wife shows up and she's all, Honey, you know how I'm the goddess of marriage? And Woton's like, uh, yeah, sure. And his wife says this guy Hodor has begged for help against this horrible guy Siegmund who stole his wife, and I need you to do something about that. And Wotan is very like, ha ha ha, don't trouble yourself over such silliness. So they're two crazy kids who got spring fever and ran off together. I'm not going to intervene.
And his wife is all, I get that you have cheated on me with every hole from here to China, but if you respect me AT ALL, you will do something to protect the laws of marriage, which are YOUR laws, btw. And Wotan is all, c'mon. It was an unhappy marriage. I'm not going to enforce the vows of an unhappy marriage.
And then Wotan's wife pulls out the big guns and says, um, ok, marriage vows don't mean anything to you WHAT ABOUT INCEST YOU BIG DORK?! Even at this, Wotan seems pretty non-plussed and says something about so the Sieggies have got together and mixed their blood. Neato! Then his wife makes the case that if he won't do anything, it will be the end of the gods, because it will show that the god's don't care about their own laws, and dogs & cats living together! It's also very disrespectful to her, because Siegmund (oh, sorry, forgot to mention) is Wotan's bastard, and she's the goddess of marriage and, I don't know. It got very unnecessarily complicated here.
Wotan tries to explain that in fact Siegmund is being prepared for a quest that Wotan needs for him to do, and that can only be carried out by a brave man with no ties or help from the Gods. And Wotan's wife is all, so giving him a magic sword is "no help from the Gods"? You're an idiot. All you've ever done is help Siegmund. And Wotan is starting to realize he's screwed. He agrees to his wife that he will not allow Siegmund to win the battle with Hodar, but he's pretty torn up about it.
Meanwhile Brunhilde comes back and actually eavesdrops on the last bit of Wotan & Wife's conversation. Then after wife leaves she comes out and tries to get Wotan to talk to her about what is wrong. Wotan begins a long bit of monologue-ing (in song), which is kind of an "in our last episode" summation of what happened last night. He now lives in constant fear that if Al the Angry Dwarf ever gets that ring back, he will destroy Wotan. One of the giants with the gold killed the other giant and now lives as a dragon, guarding the gold & the ring, and Al the Angry Dwarf spends his days plotting how to get it back. Wotan can't go get the ring himself, because he made a treaty with the giants, and if he is seen as being behind an attack, it will be DOOM. That's why he's trying to find a hero that will somehow do his will, without Wotan actually making him do his will. It's a head scratcher.
Then he orders Brunhilde not to help the Sieggies, and to make sure Siegmund loses the battle. She argues but he says that's my order, so she goes off to carry it out.
Cut to a scene with Sieglinde running frantically through the woods with Siegmund after her. She's hysterical. Siegmund begs her to say what's wrong. And she basically kind of goes Ophelia, and she's quite upset signing about how she's a horrible dirty girl, because she has enjoyed (she REALLY enjoyed. Just totally enjoyed. Seriously, allow her to enumerate in song the ways she enjoyed.) the pleasures of Siegmund, but SHE WAS MARRIED. And I'm thinking, really? You think THAT is the biggest problem in this relationship? Siegmund swears he'll kill Hodor and redeem her honor, but she's pretty hysterical and ends up collapsing.
Then Brunhilde shows up and tells Siegmund that his time is numbered. Soon he will die. And she will take him to the great hall of Vahalla, where he will fight with (dead?) heroes and have a great time. And Siegmund asks "Are there chicks there?" And Brunhilde says oh, yeah, tons of hot chicks. But what about Sieglinde, will SHE be there? Um, no, she has to stay here. Her time here is not done. So then Siegmund says no, forget it, I'd rather die with her than be dead without her, I'm going to kill us both right now. (So sweet. That's the sort of occasion that needs a Hallmark card, don't you think?)
And Brunhilde is just so moved by his love, she says forget it, you're going to win. You're not going to die. And Hodor shows up and they start to fight, and Brunhilde is about to help Siggie with the killing blow when Wotan shows up and kills Siegmund and smashes his sword. He's PISSED. Brunhilde grabs Sieglinde and runs. Wotan kills Hodor just because.
And I swear to GOD, now we're at the 2nd Intermission and we're 3/4 of the way done. If you are STILL reading, God bless you.
Act 3 opens with the full on Flight of the Valkyries, with is the BEST MUSICAL MOMENT of the last two nights. Seriously. What an amazing piece of music.
We open with a bunch of Valkyries hanging out on a rock cheering each other on. They are watching for their sisters to return from battle on flying horses, and when they return, they open up their bags and show off their prizes of war, including heads, hands, dead bodies, etc. It's awesome. My favorite part of the show so far.
Then Brunhilde comes tearing in with Sieglinde and the other Valkyries are all where's the fire? Why are you so upset? And Brunhilde is all DAD IS COMING AND HE'S PISSED AT ME AND HE'S GOING TO KILL ME PLEASE HELP!!!! And her sisters are all, you DEFIED DAD? Are you INSANE? Brunhilde says well, if you won't help me, please help me hide Sieglinde. And Sieglinde says just let me die. And Brunhilde says no, you're knocked up with Siegmund's baby! And he's going to be the hero this world needs. And his name will be Siegfried, and here is the pieces of Siegmund's broken sword. Go that way to the East Forest where the dragon lives and Wotan is afraid to go. You're life is going to suck, but your son is going to be awesome. And Sieglinde skips off.
Then Wotan shows up and he's angry and he says Brunhilde will be stripped of her Valkyrie status, put to sleep out here on the rock, and the first guy who finds her can have her. And they have a long heated conversation about the meaning of love and betrayal, and Brunhilde was doing what Wotan wanted in his heart, isn't that what a good daughter should do? So Wotan agrees that he won't just leave her on the rock, he'll surround her with a wall of fire so only a true hero can find her, and after 3 1/2 hours we suddenly end halfway through Sleeping Beauty.
Music: 9 The whole show isn't 9, but Flight of the Valkyries man. That is some great music! That's worth the whole show.
Nazi Ick Factor: 4 Yeah, I'm starting to get it now, I'm afraid. Wotan spends A LOT of time complaining about "evil treaties" that tie his hands and make him powerless. I can see some Germans in 1930 getting pretty hopped up about that. There's also some talk about "blood" and "bloodlines" and how the Sieggies are purifying their bloodline and it's all a bit ick.
Surprise Plagiarism: Well, a lot of it's not a surprise. Apocalypse Now and an entire industry of film scores that either use or imitate the music. The Valkyries are basically every awesome female super hero, especially Wonder Woman. In the opposite direction, I wasn't expecting Sleeping Beauty. The whole story about the dragon guarding the gold & magic ring is starting to go LOTR, or Harry Potter, or a million other fantasy novels.
Overall Experience: 8 The story was way more compelling than night 1 and I liked the music better too, but it was long. Hard to keep focused for that long.