First Day of "Der Ring des Nibelungen"

Composer Richard Wagner · Libretto by Richard Wagner
In German with English and German surtitles

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Musikalische Leitung
Kirill Petrenko
Andreas Kriegenburg
Harald B. Thor
Andrea Schraad
Stefan Bolliger
Zenta Haerter
Marion Tiedtke
Miron Hakenbeck

Jonas Kaufmann
Ain Anger
Wolfgang Koch
Anja Kampe
Nina Stemme
Ekaterina Gubanova
Daniela Köhler
Alexandra LoBianco
Anna Gabler
Heike Grötzinger
Helena Zubanovich
Jennifer Johnston
Okka von der Damerau
Rachael Wilson
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
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The clash of the clans nourishes the battlefield. The Valkyries, the children of the god, are just instruments of the father to gather together an army of the dead for him.

Wotan’s progeny are to secure his power: the twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde, seem born to this task. The brother lands at the home of his enemy – finds his sister there after a separation of many years and wins her heart. All of this runs according to plan, and yet the two siblings have violated the laws. The father must sacrifice his son. Brünnhilde, his favorite daughter, defies her father for the first time and protects the incestuous couple – in vain.

On the first day of Der Ring des Nibelungen, in Die Walküre, first performed in 1870 in Munich, the father-god’s plans to undo the entanglements come to naught. At the end, his children are either murdered or punished and exiled. All Wotan can do is wait for the hero of the next generation – Sieglinde now carries him in her womb, the seed of her brother, somewhere on her flight through the forest.

Past History

The Ring which Alberich, after renouncing love, had had fashioned and which was to secure for him power over the world has fallen into the hands of Fafner, the giant, as a result of Wotan’s deception. Years have past in the meantime. Fafner, living in a wood in the form of a lindworm, guards the treasure, which both Alberich and Wotan long to possess. Alberich has lovelessly fathered a son, who is to help him regain the Ring. Wotan also has plans about how to regain possession of the Ring and at the same time protect himself from the threat from Alberich and his army. Valkyries, daughters who carry out his will, bring him an army of dead heroes to Valhalla. He fathered his son Siegmund with a human woman and Siegmund is to bring him the Ring as a free hero. Siegmund and his twin sister Sieglinde were born into the house of Wälsungen but were separated while still children in the confusions of war. For years Wotan brought up Siegmund, in the guise of a wolf, to be a rebel until he disappeared without trace.

First Act

Fleeing from his persecutors and in search of shelter, an unarmed stranger finds refuge from a heavy storm in a hut built around an ash-tree. The woman of the house gives him something to drink, both are immediately attracted to each other. Her husband, Hunding, with whom she lives in a loveless marriage, returns home. He also off ers hospitality, invites the stranger to eat with them and learns from his guest’s story that he is in fact the enemy of his family. He grants him protection for the one night but challenges him to a duel the next morning.

The unarmed stranger remembers his father’s promise to provide him with a sword in his hour of greatest need. The woman has meanwhile given Hunding a sleeping draught. She wants to help the stranger escape and shows him a sword embedded in the trunk of the ash-tree which so far nobody has been able to pull out. In the course of telling their life stories they recognize each other, Sieglinde calls her brother by his correct name: Siegmund. They find their identity as twins and happiness in each other in a night of love and then flee, taking the sword with them.

Second Act

Wotan instructs his favourite daughter, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde whom he fathered with the goddess Erda, to help Siegmund in his flight. His wife Fricka persuades him to change his mind, however, by pointing out to him that Siegmund and Sieglinde have failed to uphold the vows of marriage and that Wotan’s son is by no means the free hero who can regain possession of the hord and the Ring. Siegmund is Wotan’s tool and so Wotan has to promise his wife that he will allow him to die at Hunding’s hand.

Wotan can see no way out of his dilemma. He confides to his daughter Brünnhilde his despair, his hopes, his dependence and the constraints which do not allow him to act diff erently. He commands Brünnhilde to take the side of Hunding. Brünnhilde is deeply shocked. She comes across Siegmund who is watching over Sieglinde as she sleeps, exhausted by their flight. She predicts his death and promises to take him to Valhalla to her father’s army of heroes. Siegmund, however, rejects this idea when he learns that he will not meet Sieglinde there. Realizing how inseparable the couple are makes Brünnhilde aware for the first time of the power of Love and she decides to disobey her father: the two Wälsungen will live. Hunding has meanwhile caught up with the two fugitives and challenges Siegmund to a fight. In spite of his sword and Brünnhilde’s help, Siegmund falls a defenceless victim to Hunding, as Wotan interposes his spear and shatters Siegmund’s sword. Fricka’s will has been done. Hunding is then murdered by Wotan. Brünnhilde gathers up the pieces of Siegmund’s shattered sword, Nothung, and flees with Sieglinde.

Third Act

The Valkyries gather to accompany the dead heroes to Valhalla. Brünnhilde begs them for their help so that she can protect herself and Sieglinde from Wotan’s anger. But her Valkyrie sisters do not want to rebel against their father. Sieglinde wants no future without Siegmund.

She is only persuaded diff erently when Brünnhilde tells her that she is pregnant with her brotherʼs child. Brünnhilde gives the unborn baby the name of Siegfried and begs Sieglinde to keep the pieces of his father’s sword, for the man who will one day become the greatest hero in the world. Sieglinde flees into the wood in which Fafner lives, the only place where she is safe from Wotan. Brünnhilde faces Wotan and he, angry about her disobedience, deprives her of her divinity, sends her into a deep sleep and makes her the defenceless prey of the first man to come along. All Brünnhilde manages to do is to get her father to surround her with flames so that only a fearless hero will be able to reach her.

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Kirill Petrenko was born in Omsk in 1972 where he studied piano at the College of Music. At the age of eleven he gave his first public performance as a pianist with the Omsk Symphony Orchestra. In 1990 his family (his father a violinist and his mother a musicologist) relocated to Vorarlberg where his father worked as an orchestra musician and music teacher. Petrenko first continued his studies in Feldkirch before moving to Vienna to study conducting at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts. 

His first job after graduation took him directly to the Vienna Volksoper where he was hired by Nikolaus Bachler as Kapellmeister. From 1999 until 2002 Kirill Petrenko was General Music Director at the Meininger Theater. It was in 2001 in his role as conductor of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, in the production by Christine Mielitz and with scenery by Alfred Hrdlicka, that he first achieved international acclaim. In 2002 Kirill Petrenko became General Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin where, until 2007, he was credited with a series of highly significant productions.

During his time in Meiningen and Berlin his international career also began to flourish. In 2000 Kirill Petrenko made his debut at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, in 2001 at the Vienna Staatsoper and the Dresden Semperoper, in 2003 at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Opéra National de Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the New York Metropolitan Opera and in 2005 at the Oper Frankfurt. In Lyon, in collaboration with Peter Stein, he conducted all three Pushkin-inspired operas by Tchaikovsky (Mazeppa, Eugene Onegin and Pique Dame) from 2006 until 2008, which were also performed as a cycle in early 2010.

After moving on from the Komische Oper Berlin Kirill Petrenko worked as a freelance conductor. During this period his projects included conducting a new production of Leoš Janáček's Jenůfa (Production: Barbara Frey) at the Bayerische Staatsoper in 2009. In Frankfurt he conducted Pfitzner's Palestrina (Production: Harry Kupfer) and Puccini's Tosca (Production: Andreas Kriegenburg). In 2011 he worked on two new productions of Tristan and Isolde at the Opéra National de Lyon and at the Ruhrtriennale.

To date, the most important orchestras Kirill Petrenko has been invited to conduct include the Berlin Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the BR Symphony Orchestra, the Bayerische Staatsorchester, the WDR Cologne Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic and the NDR Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester, the Amsterdam Concertgebouworkest, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Kirill Petrenko has also conducted concerts at the Bregenz and Salzburg Festivals. From 2013 to 2015 he swung his baton for the new production of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen during the Bayreuth Festival.

Since September 2013 Kirill Petrenko has been General Music Director at the Bayerische Staatsoper. He will be working in this position until the end of the 2019/20 season. Since 2013, he has taken to the rostrum for premieres of Die Frau ohne SchattenLa clemenza di TitoDie SoldatenLucia di Lammermoor, Lulu, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsenk District and Tannhäuser as well as the world premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s South Pole and a revival of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen among other works. In June 2015, Kirill Petrenko was named future Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, starting this position in autumn 2019.

In the current season at the Bayerische Staatsoper Kirill Petrenko led an new production of Puccini’s Il trittico, next up is a new production of Wagner's Parsifal opening the Munich Opera Festival. Furthermore, Kirill Petrenko conducts revivals of Der Rosenkavalier and three complete Ring-cycles, as well as three Academy Concerts with the Bayerische Staatsorchester.

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