℗ © 2013 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin Under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon & Decca Classics, U.S., a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
Deutsche Grammophon presents a new recording of Wagner's Siegfried by the Vienna State Opera, conducted by leading Wagner interpreter and conductor Christian Thielemann. Thielemann, a longtime protoge of Karajan, was named the Bayreuth Festival Musical Advisor in 2008.
Siegfried - STEPHEN GOULD
Mime - WOLFGANG SCHMIDT
Der Wanderer - ALBERT DOHMEN
Alberich - TOMASZ KONIECZNY
Fafner - AIN ANGER
Erda - ANNA LARSSON
Brunnhilde - LINDA WATSON
Voice of a woodbird - CHEN REISS
Lars Michael Stransky, horn - (Siegfried’s Horn Call)
Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Christian Thielemann, conductor
Plot Synopsis (from included liner notes)
A smithy in a rocky cave in the forest
In his rocky cave Mime is forging a new sword with which Siegfried is to kill Fafner, giving Mime possession of the Nibelung’s ring. Hitherto every weapon has shattered in Siegfried’s mighty hands, and this attempt fails likewise; the youth snaps the sword “like a child’s trinket”. Siegfried, brought up to believe Mime is his “father and mother in one”, asks Mime about his real origins and learns his mother died after his birth and his father in a fight. As evidence, Mime shows the youth the fragments of Nothung (Siegmund’s sword, shattered in his last fight), which the dying Sieglinde gave him. Siegfried demands that Mime reforge the magic weapon, then disappears into the forest.
When Mime attempts to reforge the sword, Wotan, disguised as the Wanderer, enters the cave. He makes himself at home with Mime, staking his head on a wager of knowledge: he has to answer three questions put to him by Mime. Asked about the inhabitants of the depths, the earth, and the heavens, the Wanderer is able to answer correctly. Mime can answer two of the three questions now put to him by Wotan. He fails to answer the third, as to who will reforge Nothung. “Only he who never felt fear”, runs the solution, and Mime’s head shall be forfeit to this hero.
After the Wanderer has left, Siegfried returns, asking about the sword. In order to save his own life, Mime now wants to teach him to fear and paints him an alarming picture of Fafner. Siegfried immediately longs to fight the dragon as soon as the sword is forged. Mime’s skill having failed, Siegfried himself sets to work. While he is restructuring Nothung out of the fragments, Mime concocts a sleeping draught to give to Siegfried after a successful fight with the dragon, enabling him to take the Nibelung’s hoard himself.
Deep in the forest
Outside Fafner’s cave Alberich meets the Wanderer, recognizing him as his enemy Wotan. The god mollifies him; he has come only as a spectator, not an active participant. At the same time he warns Alberich of his brother Mime’s machinations.
Wotan wakens Fafner to give Alberich a chance to negotiate with him. The Nibelung wants to persuade the dragon to give up the ring voluntarily, thereby saving his life. Fafner’s answer is clear: “I lie in possession – let me sleep!” The Wanderer goes off, laughing.
Alberich too has left when Siegfried and Mime appear. Mime, hoping Fafner and Siegfried will kill each other, leaves the boy alone. Siegfried, relieved that Mime is not his father, tries to form a picture of his parents. Taking in natural impressions in the forest, he is particularly struck by a little bird’s song. His attempt to copy the bird’s call on a reed is woefully inadequate, however. When Siegfried now imitates the woodbird’s song on his horn, his playing wakes Fafner. In the fight Siegfried kills the dragon with his sword. Dying, Fafner warns him against the instigator of the deed. As the youth puts his blood-bespattered hand to his mouth, he suddenly understands the woodbird’s words advising him to fetch the magic helmet and ring from the cave. While Siegfried is in the cave, Alberich and Mime appear; they start to quarrel about sharing the spoils. The woodbird’s advice lets Siegfried see through Mime’s intentions. When the dwarf tries to hand him the “refreshing drink”, he kills him and throws his body into the cave. The woodbird’s voice rings out once more: the sleeping Brunnhilde awaits the one who knows no fear. Siegfried follows the bird’s flight.
Wild region at the top of a rocky summit
Wotan awakens Erda, the primeval mother, from long sleep to ask her how to stop the “turning wheel” of world history. Erda refuses to say; her dream of a sacred world order has been ruined by “men’s deeds”.
With Erda no longer advising him, Wotan can only renounce independent activity. He will willingly yield to him who is “eternally young”. On his way to the sleeping Brunnhilde, Siegfried meets the Wanderer, who tries to hold him up with questions without revealing his identity. Wotan, realizing he cannot stop Siegfried with words, resorts to arms as his sense of power once more rebels; his spear shall shatter the sword Nothung again. Siegfried recognizes the Wanderer as his father’s enemy and puts an end to the god’s power, splintering Wotan’s spear on his sword.
On the Valkyrie rock
Siegfried has walked through the sea of flames. He finds the sleeping Valkyrie, thinking at first she is a man. He knows he has found Brunnhilde only when he removes her helmet. Fear comes over him at his very first sight of a woman. Siegfried awakens Brunnhilde with a kiss. After her long sleep she greets the daylight and her saviour. However, her joy is mingled with the painful recollection of punishment, the sudden awareness of being an earthling unprotected by divine power. But Siegfried’s ardent wooing dispels Brunnhilde’s sorrow at her losing her divine mission. She completes the transformation from the unapproachable daughter of Wotan to a woman passionately in love.
Translation: Robert Jordan