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Wagner's "Ring" and genealogy

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 7:03 am
by alberich00
Dear members of, and visitors to, the discussion forum:

My companion Dotti is an amateur genealogist, a member of a local genealogical society, and she and I, and a good friend who plays French Horn in some orchestras in New England, watched Wagner's "Ring" all the way through (a dvd of the Metropolitan Opera production from early 1990's) over the course of about a month recently. Our friend had never experienced a theatrical performance of the "Ring" before, and my companion had only experienced it one time before. Anyway, I got to thinking during and after the performance how moving the "Ring" must be for anyone trying to trace their roots.

Among many other themes presented by the "Ring," the subject of origins and our quest to discover our origins is at the top of the list. Consider the mystery contained in the simple fact that Wotan's Valhalla Motif comes into being by virtue of a subtle series of transformations of Alberich's Ring Motif, a mystery hinted at also in Wotan's calling himself "Licht-Alberich." In my allegorical and somewhat counterintuitive interpretation, Alberich's forging of the Ring is indeed the origin of the gods and their Valhalla. This fact, strongly suggested subliminally by this musical origin, is at the bottom of much that happens in the "Ring."

Think of the profound pathos of Siegmund and Sieglinde not knowing throughout their life up until the moment Siegmund stumbles into Sieglinde's home in "The Valkyrie" that their twin sister/brother still lives, and that they're actually seeing each other for the first time since their mother was killed and Sieglinde (unbeknownst to Siegmund, who remained with his father Waelse/Wotan for a time) was abducted, and don't recognize this fact until they awaken their memories through a series of reminiscences. Can you imagine anything more moving than Siegmund's description of how he lost his father Wolf/Waelse in the forest, followed by the sounding of the Valhalla Motif which tells us, but not the twins (neither of whom realize at any moment of their brief lives that their father was actually Wotan, the god of gods), that Wotan is their father?

Consider Siegfried, born as an orphan into a hostile world in which he's brought up by a foster-father, Alberich's brother Mime, who poses as both his father Siegmund and his mother Sieglinde (who died giving him birth), and who intends only to exploit him for his own gain. Siegfried spends the first act of "Siegfried" seeking knowledge of where he came from, ultimately discovering that Mime has hidden from Siegfried his true parentage and legacy, Siegmund's sword that was broken by Wotan (unbeknownst to Siegfried). The first thing we learn from Siegfried is that he's been seeking for a true friend among the animals in the forest because he instinctively dislikes Mime, whom he recognizes as not having an authentic relationship with him based on trust and love. Mime tries desperately to recall to Siegfried with what tenderness and care his false parent Mime brought him up, but Siegfried knows better. Have you ever noticed how deeply moving the nature-music is that is heard again and again as Siegfried asks Mime why Siegfried always returns to him even though he despises him, and we hear various motifs which speak to us of the authentic mother-love and parental love which exists in nature but not in Siegfried's artificial household as Siegfried tries to square Mime's exploitive foster-parentage with what Siegmund has experienced in nature? We hear nature music of a different kind as Siegfried tells Mime he's noticed that he doesn't look like Mime, when Siegfried has looked at his face in the reflection from water. This recalls Sieglinde's having shared with Siegmund, just before they actually recognize each other as long-lost brother-and-sister, that the echo she heard in the forest as her own voice she heard again when Siegmund spoke to her, and that the reflection of herself she saw in water she sees again in Siegmund. When Siegfried decides to re-forge his father's sword (for some strange reason Mime never shares Siegfried's father's name with him, though he does tell Siegfried his mother's name, Sieglinde), it's as if Siegfried is re-forging his lost link with his spiritual ancestors, since Wotan himself manufactured that sword and, in disguise as the Wanderer, thrust it into Hunding's House-Ash while making knowing eye contact with his lonely daughter Sieglinde, but never identifying himself to her, and leaving her alone again unprotected in the hostile, abusive, forced marriage to Hunding. What could be more poignant than this simple fact that her father Wotan covertly made himself known to her, for one brief moment, as the Wanderer, but then left her alone again in her hostile homestead!

Siegfried's search for his true roots continues as he asks even the dying giant/dragon Fafner, in whom Siegfried has fatally thrust his self-reforged sword named Nothung, to tell him who he is. Siegfried says to Fafner: "I still don't know who I am." How resonant and stirring it is that Siegfried's predestined true love and bride Bruennhilde actually answers
Siegfried's question, who am I, by telling him many hours later that "What you don't know I know for you." Bruennhilde, as the repository for Wotan's confession of mankind's corrupt world-history, knows for Siegfried his entire prehistory. But Siegfried tells Bruennhilde, when she says to him that what Wotan thought (Wotan's confession), Bruennhilde felt, and what she felt was just her love for Siegfried, that he only feels what she says to him but doesn't grasp "faraway" or "distant" things. Thanks to Bruennhilde Siegfried feels what Wotan thinks.

How deep and profound, in connection with this mysterious relationship between Bruennhilde and Siegfried, is Wagner's observation that when he was considering creating a music-drama based on a Buddhist tale of reincarnation "The Victors," which he never set to music, but whose subject reincarnation explains much in the relationship between Parsifal and Kundry, both of whom have been reborn again and again, he realized how apt his musical motifs of reminiscence and foreboding were for creating a music-drama in which the former lives of his protagonists would be recalled by motifs but not recalled by the protagonists. And then consider how meaningful this remark is in light of the fact that Wagner told King Ludwig II that Wotan is actually reborn in Siegfried in the way that an authentically inspired artist's original intent is reborn in his work of art but forgotten!

Last but not least, consider how Siegfried under Hagen's influence and his potion of love-and-forgetting forgets his one true love and muse of inspiration Bruennhilde, but thanks apparently to Hagen's antidote to his original potion is able one last time to remember Bruennhilde as his true love, before expiring. It moves me to the depths of my being to recall that it's Siegfried's remembrance of things past, his reestablishing his true roots in and relationship with his muse Bruennhilde in memory, that kills him. And Hagen's antidote is only half the story: Siegfried actually remembers on his own, without outside help, two things the Woodbird had originally told him but which he'd already forgotten when emerging with the Tarnhelm and Ring from dead Fafner's cave, namely, the use of the Tarnhelm for performing wonders, and the use of the Ring to gain power over the world. Siegfried recalls these things even before Hagen administers his antidote, a potion of remembrance, to Siegfried, so Siegfried's process of remembrance of things past is a natural part of his character, just as his forgetting Bruennhilde was equally an inevitable aspect of "change."

Re: Wagner's "Ring" and genealogy

Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:53 am
by alberich00