THE RICHARD WAGNER BICENTENARY AT RHODES UNIVERSITY
Der Ring des Nibelungen /
The Ring of the Nibelung
EDEN GROVE BLUE, TUESDAYS at 18h30
FREE! ALL WELCOME
The celebration of the Wagner bicentennial by the School of Languages and the International Office at Rhodes University continues in the second term with a presentation of the monumental series of operas known as Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). Stretching over 4 full length operas and more than 15 hours of music, the “Ring’s” length complements its intricate musical and philosophical content. It also mirrors the evolution Wagner went through over the 26 years (1848-1874) that it took him to complete it.
The mythological content came from a renewed interest in the Germanic myths as reflected in the great medieval sagas and epics. It tells the story of the dwarf, or Nibelung, Alberich’s lust after the Rhine Maidens and their revelation to him of the power of a ring fashioned from the Rhine gold. The terrible corollary is that the exercise the power requires the relinquishing of love. Alberich steals the gold, makes the ring and sets off a cycle of disastrous events of betrayal, theft and murder by the Gods, giants and dwarves. Central to the events are the attempts by Wotan, the “All-Father” to manipulate his offspring, Sigismund and Sieglinde, his grandson, Siegfried, and his daughter, Brünnhilde, in this power play. In the tragic end the ring is returned to the Rhine and human love triumphs over the power of the Gods.
During the creation of the great cycle Wagner was involved in political uprisings, years of fleeing across Europe, two adulterous love-affairs and the momentous discovery of Buddhism and the philosophers Feuerbach and Schopenhauer. Interpretations of the works include those who see them as a reaction to industrialisation, to early formulations of psycho-analytic insights and those who see them as a powerful rejection of religion. Feminist, “green” and postmodernist deconstructions came thick and fast since the 1970’s. What is certain is that music was never the same after the “Ring”. Wagner revolutionised the use of the orchestra, destabilised traditional harmony and the basic elements of opera such as arias and choruses through his use of harmonic “fields” and leitmotifs.
All are welcome to the free showings of the DVD’s on Tuesdays at 18h30 in Eden Grove Blue.