Monday, 24 September 2012

Extra Dry Rheingold, not Wagner

Is it sheer coincidence that Keith Warner's heavily marketed Wagner Ring of the Nibelungen opens at the Royal Opera House London at the same time as the Oktoberfest opens in Munich?  Commercialism rears its ugly head! But at least in this case, one can reflect that sixty years ago audiences knew what "Rheingold" meant and associated it with liquid gold. Notice the bombastic "orchestra".  Perhaps those audiences even got the irony of using arch anti-capitalist Richard Wagner in a crass commercial. 

What is the message of Das Rheingold  and of the entire Ring Cycle?  Whoever holds the Ring is cursed. Alberich rips off the oppressed Nibelung working class. Wotan  rips off Alberich. Fafner and Fasolt scrap with each other. Wotan's scams go far wider than cheating on a mortgage. He cheats on his wife. He doesn't "do" responsibility, even when he tries to protect his daughter. Hagen and Gunther think they can rip off Siegfried.  "Des Ringes Herr als des Ringes Knecht"  Alberich's curse applies to himself since he stole the Rheingold in the first place. An indictment of the Capitalist system!

Thickets of moral compromise. So grüss' ich die Burg, sicher vor Bang' und Grau'n! sings Wotan as he accepts his entitlement. But heed what Loge has to say : Ihrem Ende eilen sie zu, die so stark in Bestehen sich wähnen. Fast schäm' ich mich, mit ihnen zu schaffen; zur leckenden Lohe mich wieder zu wandeln, spür' ich lockende Lust. The Ring is for the rich. Plebs need not apply. But as beer, Das Rheingold is available to all. For details of the ROH broadcast schedule, please see here.

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