Wagner’s Siegfried at the Oper Frankfurt



Richard Wagner 1813-1883

Libretto by the composer
First performed August 16th 1876, Festspielhaus Bayreuth

Sung in German with German surtitles
Duration: c. 5 hrs including 2 intervals

Live recording and DVD available – Oehms Classics

Friday 15th July 2016   Start 5:00 pm   Venue: Opera House

Wagner finished the libretto for his new opera in late 1852. What had begun as Siegfried’s Death had grown into a four-part »Stage Festival« so as to provide the background which led to Siegfried’s downfall. Wagner told Liszt: »writing the music will be easy and quick: because it will only be the execution of that which is already finished«; but this was not the case. After 4 years he had finished Rheingold and Walküre and begun work on Siegfried. He was then seized by »melancholic doubt« and the perhaps most extraordinary pause in the history of operatic composition took place: the Ring des Nibelungen ground to a halt for nearly twelve years. Only the prospect that the complete work could be performed encouraged him to start working on it again. More astonishing than the long break in composing is the compelling arch of sound that is apparent throughout the Ring. Siegfried is therefore a work of transition, of change. It is also a piece that connects: Nordic myths merge with the German Nibelungenlied. Wagner said that Siegfried was an »intermezzo«. A tale about »the boy who went forth to learn what fear was«, a hero in whom others have put their own, conflicting, hopes.


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Conductor Sebastian Weigle

Director Vera Nemirova

Revival rehearsed by Hans Walter Richter

Stage Designer Jens Kilian

Costume Designer Ingeborg Bernerth

Lighting Designer Olaf Winter

Dramaturgy Malte Krasting

Video Bibi Abel

Siegfried Vincent Wolfsteiner

Mime Peter Marsh

The Wanderer James Rutherford

Alberich Jochen Schmeckenbecher

Fafner Per Bach Nissen

Erda Meredith Arwady

Brünnhilde Rebecca Teem

Voice of the Forest Bird Katharina Ruckgaber *

Forest Bird Alan Barnes
* Member of the Opera Studio



Siegfried, Siegmund and Sieglinde’s son, has been brought up by Mime who is trying to forge a sword strong enough to allow Siegfried to kill Fafner, who has transformed himself into a dragon to guard his treasure, so that Mime can get his hands on the Ring. Wotan is roaming the world as a Wanderer. After a knowledge competition with Mime, who loses, he tells him that only a man who has never learnt what fear is can mend Siegmund’s sword, Nothung. Siegfried mends his father’s broken weapon and kills Fafner. After coming into contact with the dragon’s blood he can understand the language of birds, one of whom tells him to take the Ring and Tarnhelm and not to trust Mime, who he kills when he tries to trick him into drinking poison. The bird tells him about Brünnhilde asleep on a rock and they set off to find her. Wotan wakes Erda and asks her how he can change the fate of the gods. When Erda finds out that their daughter has been deprived of her divinity, and is sleeping surrounded by a ring of fire, she keeps silent – for her he is no longer the ruling god he claims to be. Wotan tries to prevent Siegfried from reaching Brünnhilde but Siegfried, believing him to be his father’s enemy, breaks his spear with his sword. Siegfried strides through the ring of fire and wakes Brünnhilde with a kiss. She sees the fateful ring on his finger and is fearful that she is no longer able to save him from Wotan’s plans of destruction. He is insistent and she eventually gives into her desires. Their joy is ecstatic.

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