Category Archive for: ‘Carol Benet’

“Siegfried” at SF Opera


”Siegfried” at SF Opera

”Siegfried”, the third of the tetrology in Richard Wagner’s “The Ring of the Nibelungen”, was as exciting as the first two, “Das Rheingold” and “Die Walküre”.

What could have been and has often in earlier productions been a very slow first act starting with Mime and Siegfried talking about Siegfried’s demand for a sword to be reforged by Mime was not the usual boring blah blah blah here.  Instead director Francesca Zambello has made even this act filled with action.

Siegfried (Daniel Brenna), the child of an incestuous love affair between Sigmund and Siegfried, who are now dead, possesses the shards of the magical sword that would protect him from all enemies.  He asks Mime, the weasel type character whose voice is as cloying as his demeanor, to repair the sword.  David Canglosi’s impersonation of Mime is wonderful, especially as he dances and does cartwheels while deriding the others.  Mime has raised Siegfried after his mother died in childbirth and any kindness has been erased because of his sinister motives.  He wants to send Siegfried to steal the gold from the monster Fafner’s lair and then plans on killing Siegfried.

The act is set in Mime’s workshop that designer Michael Yeargan placed in a trailer that has been cut open to see the innards.  At the end of the first act,  The Wanderer, Wotan in disguise (Greer Grimsley), enters and has a long talk with Mime to whom he poses three questions.  Mime in return asks three questions.  Only Wotan’s last question will allow Mime to forge the sword.  Mime fails this test and we see that Siegried has taken on the task of forging the shards into a complete invincible sword.  Meanwhile, Mime tries to teach the innocent and naive Siefgried Fear, a requirement he thinks necessary for capturing the hoard of gold.  Mime also prepares a poison potion to give Siegfried after he has accomplished his tasks.

In a repose Siegfried sees and hears a forest bird who advises him.  The bird comes in the form of a lovely young woman (Stacey Tappan) who takes care of him as his mother would.  Siegfried encounters Fafner (Raymond Aceto) who rides in a huge vehicle fashioned after a military tank but more fearful. Here is the scene where the two brothers, Mime and Alberich (Falk Stuckmann) fight for possession of the gold

The tank compliments the main theme of Zambella’s rendition of “The Ring” in showing how the soulless industrial revolution has set us at war with nature and that nature is dying due to the thoughtless development of overwhelming buildings, freeways and factories with their mazes of ugly electrical wires all set in a polluted and rusted out environment.  The videos (S. Kay Tucker) that accompany the prologues show a nature that is slowly dying through the series of “The Ring”.  Nature is being replaced by ugly manifestations of the industrialized modern world.

The last act brings two important females back into the story, the earth goddess Erda (Ronita Miller) who gives Wotan wise counsel that Wagner took from his studies of Buddhism via the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and their daughter Brünnhilde (Iréne Theorin).   Siegfried goes through the ring of fire that Wotan has created to protect Brünnhilde, awakens her and the two sing a beautiful duet and the opera ends on a hopeful note.

“The Ring of the Nibelungen” concludes with one more opera “Götterdammerung”.

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