Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts L’Or du Rhin at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

Richard Wagner – Wagner / from Germanic and Norse mythology,

Das Rheingold WWV 86a
(The Rhinegold)

Prologue in four scenes to the scenic festival The Ring of the Nibelung created on September 22, 1869 at the Royal Theater in Munich

Opera in concert version recorded by France Musique on April 23, 2022 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Production of Champs-Elysees Theater with the support of the General Delegation of Quebec in Paris.

Distribution :

Yannick Nézet-Séguin: Musical direction

Michael Volle: Wotan, Master of the Gods, Baritone
Gerhard Siegel: Lodge, Demigod, Firebender, Tenor
Jamie Barton: Fricka, goddess, wife of Wotan, Mezzo-soprano
Christiane Karg: Freia, goddess of eternal youth, Soprano
Thomas Lehman: Donner, God of Thunder, Baritone
Issachah Savage: Froh, God of Spring, Tenor
Wiebke Lehmkuhl: Erda, Earth Mother Goddess, Contralto
Samuel Youn: Alberich, Nibelung, bass-baritone
Thomas Ebenstein: Mime, Nibelung, Tenor
Stephen Milling: Fasolt, Giant, Brother of Fafner, Bass
Mikhail Petrenko: Fafner, Giant, brother of Fasolt, Bass
Erika Baikoff: Woglinde, Daughter of the Rhine, Soprano
Iris van Wijnen: Wellgunde, daughter of the Rhine, Mezzo-soprano
Maria Barakova: Flosshilde, Daughter of the Rhine, Mezzo-soprano

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

Argument :

Scene 1. Three undines, the Daughters of the Rhine, are guarding their father’s treasure when the Nibelung Alberich emerges from a crevasse, proclaiming its love to them. The nymphs laugh at him and his unsightly physique. A ray of sunshine then makes the Rhinegold shine. The undines explain that this gold would give its owner unlimited power if it were forged into a ring. But only he who renounces Love has the power to forge the ring. Against all odds, Alberich, mad with anger, curses the love denied him, seizes the precious treasure and rushes to his landmark, the Nibelheim, before the nymphs have been able to catch up with him.

Scene 2. On top of a high mountain, Wotan, the King of the Gods, rests alongside his wife, Fricka. The first contemplates Valhalla, his divine abode just completed, a demonstration of his power. But the second is worried: to build it, he promised the giants to give them his sister, Freia, goddess of love and eternal youth. Wotan reminds her that he had to offer one of his eyes as a pledge to conquer her, and that it was she who convinced him to have Valhalla built, thus hoping to make him give up traveling the world. He also reveals to her that he never intended to deliver Freia to the giants: the demi-god Loge, who advised him on this market, has also undertaken to find an alternative solution.

Just appear the giants Fasolt and Fafner, claiming their due. But the gods Froh and Donner intervene. It is then that Loge, the demi-god of fire, appears. The latter explains having traveled the world in search of a counterpart as precious as Freia, but having found nothing that surpasses Love, apart from the ring forged by Alberich in Rhinegold, and for which this the latter has justly renounced Love. While Loge advises Wotan to retrieve the ring to return it to the Rhinemaidens, Fircka advises him to make it his own.

The giants finally offer to exchange Freia for the ring, of which they fear the use that the Nibelungen could make of it against them: when Wotan refuses, they take Freia hostage. Immediately, the gods seem to grow old and lose their vigour: it is indeed Freia who guarantees them eternal youth. Loge alone, being only a demi-god, escapes this curse. Wotan immediately resolves to dive with Loge towards the Nibelheim in order to steal the magic ring.

Scene 3. In the underground forges of Nibelheim, Alberich bullies his brother, Mime, who tried to keep for himself the helm he had ordered him to forge: the latter gives the wearer the power to make himself invisible or take the desired look. Bearer of the ring and the helm, Alberich is already preparing to enslave the whole world.

Loge and Wotan appear and find Mime, who complains: the Nibelungen have been enslaved by the power of the ring held by Alberich. The latter appears, fulminating. Loge flatters him but doubts the real power of his helm: to prove his power to him, Alberich turns into a gigantic snake, then resumes his normal appearance. Loge then implies that it seems to him easier to change into a larger being than into a smaller one. Alberich then puts on his helmet to appear as a toad. Wotan and Loge take advantage of this to seize him, steal his helmet and bring him back prisoner, to the open air.

Scene 4. Returning to the open air, Wotan and Loge claim all of his treasure from Alberich, including the helm and the ring: the Nibelung enrages, but has no alternative. But, at the time of being freed and returning to the Nibelheim, Alberich curses the ring: devoid of its power, it will bring death to its owner and cause a devouring envy in those who approach it. Loge and Wotan join the other gods and tell them of their success. The two giants, Fasolt and Fafner, appear and demand their ransom: Wotan hands them the gold stolen from Alberich. The giants not being satisfied, he also gives them the helm, but refuses to give up the ring.

Erda, Mother of the Earth, who knows all that was, is and will be, appears and alerts Wotan to the danger that the cursed ring poses to him. Although intrigued and wanting to know more about his future, Wotan gives up the ring. Immediately, the two giants argue over who will wear it: Fafner stabs his brother and seizes the precious ring. Wotan, terrified by the effects of the ring’s curse, resolves to find Erda in order to learn how to end the curse. The god Donner then caused a storm to break out in order to dissipate the clouds, then Froh built a rainbow bridge: the gods took possession of Valhalla. Loge, sensing the twilight of the gods, decides to leave on his side. In the distance, the Rhinemaidens mourn their stolen gold.

© Theater des Champs-Elysées.

the room program of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

Reference book :

L’Front Stage Opera: The Rhinegold by Wagner
No. 227 – ISBN: 2-84385-206-4

Musical programming:

Richard Wagner,

Fantasia for piano in F sharp minor, op 3, WWV 22 :
2nd movement. Adagio molto e cantabile
3rd move. Recitation

Wilhem Latchoumia: Piano

Richard Wagner,

Parsifal WWW 111 :
Amfortas “Nein! Lasst ihn unenthüllt »
(“No! Leave it veiled” – Act I)

Michael Volle: Baritone
Munich Radio Orchestra
Ralf Weikert: Musical direction
BR KLASIK 900312

To listen again:
For Ukraine: Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the New York Met Chorus and Orchestra

To listen again:
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, symphonic music and opera

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