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Twilight of the Gods: Page 733
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Twilight of the Gods

Twilight of the Gods: Prologue, Part One - Below Bruennhilde's rocky peak: the Norns

In Wagner’s following recommendation of the fourth and final part of the Ring, the Twilight of the Gods, he leaves us no doubt that he regarded the Ring as not only transcending the limits of the operatic genre, but as much a work of poetic drama, with philosophic import, as a work of music:

[P. 306] “… besides the restoration of its naïve pointedness, it became possible to give the dialogue an extension covering the entire drama; and it is this that enables me to read to you to-day in guise of a bare dramatic poem a work that owes its origin to nothing but the feasibility of carrying it out completely in music: for I believe I may submit it as a play in dialogue to the same judgment we are wont to invoke with a piece indited for the Spoken Play. … I wish to commend it [Twilight of the Gods] , not to an assemblage of opera-lovers,but to a gathering of truly educated persons earnestly concerned for an original cultivation of the German Spirit.” [843W-{2/73} Prologue to a Reading of Twilight of the Gods: PW Vol. V,p. 306]

As we embark upon our analysis of the last of the music-dramas which comprise the Ring tetralogy, it should have become apparent by now that in the Ring we are dealing with a hybrid masterwork which cannot be grasped under one category, such as drama, poetry, music, or philosophy. It is, put simply, a dramatic, poetic, theatrical, musical, and philosophic meditation upon the great questions which have confronted man since his emergence as a conscious being among the animals. It is in that spirit, Wagner’s spirit as described by himself above, that I commend the following critique of the last of the Ring music-dramas.

[T.P: A]

The prelude to the Prologue to the final part of the four-part Ring drama, Twilight of the Gods, begins in darkness near the base of the mountain where Siegfried left Bruennhilde protected by Loge’s ring of fire. Erda’s (Nature’s) daughters, the three Norns, representing past, present, and future, the world embraced by Erda’s wisdom, meditate upon the ways of the world as they spin the rope of fate:

 

(Prelude: The curtain opens slowly. The scene is the same as at the end of the second day, on the Valkyrie’s rock. Night. A fiery glow is visible at the very back of the stage. The three norns, tall female figures in long, dark veil-like garments. The first (the oldest) is lying at the front of the stage on the left, beneath the spreading pine-tree; the second (the younger) is reclining on a stone terrace in front of the rocky chamber; the third (the youngest) is sitting on a rocky outcrop of the mountain ridge in the center at the back of the stage. Sombre silence and absence of any movement: #138;

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