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A powerful sound of Wagner's Götterdämmerung with a reduced orchestra

Reading time: 3 min. Richard WagnerEberhard Kloke

The premier of the opera Götterdämmerung (edited by Eberhard Kloke) will take place on May, 26th 2019 at the Mainfranken Theater Würzburg. Wagner productions are traditionally reserved for ‘larger’ opera houses, since the volume of those orchestra wouldn't allow anything else. However, with his version, arranger Eberhard Kloke makes it possible for Wagner's Opus magnum to be performed in smaller houses without compromising on sound quality. The general music director Enrico Calesso will serve as the conductor for this newly arranged version, which will be on the theatre’s program until July, 20th 2019.

What is new?

"This transcription is based on the forces available in a mid-sized orchestra. The orchestral colours were “modernised” in the course of arranging it by differentiating among the historically given spectrum and by introducing new instruments. I strove both to expand and condense the sound, especially since I of course kept the instruments typical of the Ring (Wagner tuba, bass trumpet, contrabass trombone, etc.); the newly introduced ones (alto flute, heckelphone, contrabass clarinet, contrabassoon and cimbasso, the latter as a link between tubas and trombones) become especially significant as additional dramatic-psychological sonic elements."

Historical aspects of  Wagner's version

In May 1850 Wagner presented the "printed drama" of Siegfried's death, the literary precursor to the later Götterdämmerung, the "third day" of the Der Ring des Nibelungen, completed in 1874. In the drama's foreword he rages against "false prophets" and the "charlatans" of the Great Opera in Paris. At the same time he developed his own idea of a "general drama" redeeming the world through art in "Opera and Drama" and "The Work of Art of the Future", and worked his way through the Nibelungen Saga to the point "where it overturns the more human garb of primeval heroism," according to Wagner in the Wibelungen from the revolutionary year 1848: "Here we recognize Siegfried, how he wins the stronghold of the Nibelungen and immense power through him. All striving and all struggle goes to this stronghold of the Nibelungs, as the embodiment of all earthly power, and who possesses it, who commands through it, is or becomes Nibelung".

The death of the hero Siegfried in the Götterdämmerung leads the ring narrative around Walhall, Wotan and the Valkyries to their end, the world fire ignited by Brünnhilde expiates the primal guilt of the Nibelung Alberich, the robbery of the Rhine gold. The end of Wagner's world narrative, it is at the same time the end of all history as well as of historical opera. With the Götterdämmerung, the Mainfranken Theater concludes the three seasons of the Grand Opéra and its religious and social doom scenarios in Meyerbeer's "Huguenots" and Verdi's "Sicilian Vespers". (Mainfranken Theater Würzburg)


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