Stage on Screen is The Roxy’s ongoing series of the world’s greatest contemporary theatrical performances, from the Metropolitan Opera to London’s National Theatre to the Bolshoi Ballet and beyond, projected on the big screen. In what is expected to be a Wagnerian event for the ages, soprano Christine Goerke plays Brünnhilde, Wotan’s willful warrior daughter, who loses her immortality in opera’s most famous act of filial defiance. Tenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek play the incestuous twins Siegmund and Sieglinde. Greer Grimsley sings Wotan. Philippe Jordan conducts.
World Premiere: Court Theater, Munich, 1870. The second opera in Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle, Die Walküre has long stood on its own as an evening of extraordinarily powerful theater. Part of this appeal lies in its focus on some of the Ring’s most interesting characters at decisive moments of their lives: Wotan, the leader of the gods; his wife, Fricka; his twin offspring, Siegmund and Sieglinde; and, above all, Wotan’s warrior daughter Brünnhilde. These characters and others follow their destinies to some of Wagner’s most remarkable music.
Throughout the Ring cycle, Wagner uses a system of musical themes, or leitmotifs, associated with characters, events, emotions, and things. The entire first act of Die Walküre depicts the experience of falling in love in one great arc, from initial attraction to consummation. It is one of the theater’s most convincing portrayals of the power of love—even if the lovers in question are in fact twin brother and sister. Act III opens with the famous Ride of the Valkyries. In a dramatic masterstroke, Wagner uses the sound of eight powerful female voices, punctuated by shrieking laughter, to depict the terrible thrill of combat. The opera ends with some of the most moving music ever composed, as Wotan intones his farewell to Brünnhilde.