Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wotan's Farewell

Recently, Jon and I saw one of our favorite baritones, Bryn Terfel, sing a program of Wagner with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. One of the most well-known Wagnerian baritone arias, I would even say one the best-known Wagnerian arias is Wotan's Farewell. It is the end of Die Walkure, the 2nd of the 4 operas in Wagner's Ring Cycle.

The premise is a heart-wrenching decision by Wotan to punish his daughter, Brunnhilde, for falling in love with a mortal. He decrees that she must live with the consequences of her actions, meaning he must put her to sleep on a rock for whatever mortal to find her and make her his wife. She begs him to protect her with a charm that will only let a true hero break through to her, and Wotan agrees.

This video picks up with him leading her off, and then calling on Loge, the God of Fire, to surround the rock with fire to protect her and allow only the bravest of men to penetrate it. Interestingly, he calls this man "one who will be freer than I, a God." Thus, he gives up his favorite daughter, she, of course, hoping it will be Siegfriend who saves her. (leading into the 3rd opera, Siegfried)

Wagner has never held great appeal for me, but after listening to this recent concert with Mr. Terfel, and learning more and more about the stories behind his music, I can't understand why it's taken me this long to get into it. It's everything I like about opera: drama, leit motifs, lush harmonies, soaring melodies, and big singing.

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