How refreshing and appropriate, it seems, that this interpretation of Wagner's final Ring Cycle opera takes us away from the distant places of Norse lore to the gilded towers of the Industrial Age. The way I see it, Götterdämmerung tells the story of a world on the brink of losing its faith. There's nothing to believe in anymore; there's no one you can trust. The Gibichung Hall doubles as a contempt-ridden snake pit, surely an ode to man's vapid purpose. Thus the world's wealth cannot disguise the misery of its existence. Our way of life is unsustainable and heading for ruin. The god's absolutely final chance to maintain the status quo (in the form of Siegfried) fails.
Ah, let's chat about Siegfried: For a "free hero," he's as whiny as Luke Skywalker and as reckless as Harry Potter, and yet these latter two are not as easy to beguile. By today's standards he would never be considered a hero in any way. At best, he's oblivious to the pressing challenges that the world faces. At worst, he's an idiotic numb-skull who won't heed to any good advice, not even his own. If anything, the real hero of this debacle would be Brünnhilde, who in The Valkyrie saves a defenseless girl from a terrible fate, stands up for herself in answering to her considerably peeved super-father, and here returns the Rhinegold to its proper owners.
And yet, despite all of this, when Brünnhilde sings about the end of the gods, it plays the same leitmotif that opens The Rhinegold: Will the world start anew? Will there be new "gods" to take the reins? Is there hope still? What do we know? That's the great things about this opera, and especially this production. In the end, all great works must do one thing to survive the wear of time, of which this opera succeeds: To leave us wondering about what could have been and what could still be.
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