Ring-like Operas: Sigurd

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Van der Decken
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Ring-like Operas: Sigurd

Post by Van der Decken » Mon May 07, 2018 10:42 pm

"Sigurd is an opera in four acts and nine scenes by the French composer Ernest Reyer. Like Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, the story is based on the Nibelungenlied and the Eddas, with some crucial differences from the better known Wagnerian version." :
Hilda, the younger sister of Gunther, king of the Burgundians, loves the hero Sigurd, despite the fact that she was expected to be given to Attila himself as a bride. At the instigation of her nurse (Uta) she gives Sigurd a magic potion which brings him to her feet. Sigurd, Gunther and Hagen then swear fealty to each other and set off to Iceland, where Brunehild lies asleep upon a lofty rock, surrounded by a circle of fire and some supernatural beings. There, Sigurd, to earn the hand of Hilda, must overcome those monsters. He achieves this and passes through the flames to win Brunehild for Gunther. His face is closely hidden by his visor, and Brunehild in all innocence accepts Gunther as her saviour, and gives herself to him. The secret is afterwards disclosed by Hilda in a fit of jealous rage, whereupon Brunehild releases Sigurd from the enchantment of the potion. He recognises her as the bride ordained for him by the gods, and they sing a passionate love duet, but before he can taste his new-found happiness he is treacherously slain by Gunther while hunting. His body is brought back to the palace and Brunehild mounts the funeral pyre. A powerful apotheosis ends the opera when spirits of Sigurd and Brunehild ascend to paradise, and soldiers of Attila are seen walking over corpses of Burgundians.[4]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd_(opera)
Last edited by Van der Decken on Tue May 08, 2018 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Pray heaven that soon a wife will keep faith with him!" Senta speaking of the Hollander.
Parsifal
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Re: Ring-like Operas

Post by Parsifal » Tue May 08, 2018 2:02 am

I've long wondered about this opera, which enjoyed a certain amount of popularity in the 19th and early 20th centuries, while completely dissimilar to the Ring musically. Excerpts I've heard sound attractive and definitely French (if we understand the ways in which Berlioz, Gounod, Meyerbeer, Bizet and Massenet sound French), but to my ears not awfully distinctive. The mix of Teutonic mise en scene with French Romantic music undoubtedly struck audiences of the time as perfectly normal; they may have noticed elements of "local color" that we today would miss. Sigurd has been revived only a few times in recent decades, and I know of no performances in the U.S. since the 1800s. Interestingly, although it was composed some time earlier, it didn't premiere until after Wagner's death. Possibly a wise decision!

A recording of Sigurd can be heard on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_tXfvnPmOE For some reason it omits the overture, but that can be listened to separately: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhuMbHjsMhI

I've been listening while writing this, and 25 minutes into it I'm still somewhat interested, noting both Reyer's skill and his lack of a striking melodic gift. It all sounds rather heroic but a little anonymous, like something Berlioz would write if he were not Berlioz. I'll be listening to more, and will report back.
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Van der Decken
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Re: Ring-like Operas

Post by Van der Decken » Tue May 08, 2018 4:16 am

Thanks for posting the overture. I had been listening only to the other video, not aware that there was an overture.

Here is an interesting trailer:
"Pray heaven that soon a wife will keep faith with him!" Senta speaking of the Hollander.
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