Here is the final part of Wagner's Ring. Sit back and watch the world end!
When this production was first given in 1976 it turned out to be one of the most violent post-war opera productions with the audience in a very ugly mood. Here's what happened:
"The old-guard felt that this was truly an outrage. The music critic from the Observer noted that he "had not previously experienced in the theater protest as furious as that which greeted Das Rheingold. But it paled before what was to come." He added that the opening night of Götterdämmerung "contributed to a pandemonium that twice nearly brought the performance to a halt." Further, "when the producers... bravely presented themselves on the stage alongside the conductor... they were greeted by a sustained howl of rage." Also, the orchestra revolted against what they sensed was Boulez's lack of knowledge of the work. When his interpretation favored the suppression of leitmotifs, three-quarters of the players publicly disavowed the conductor and refused to appear with him at the conclusion of the first performance. Meanwhile, in the audience bloody fights broke out between supporters and critics. Wolfgang Wagner's wife' had her dress ripped, and another woman had her earring torn off, and the earlobe with it."
Just 4 years later (when this video was made) the cycle received over 100 curtain calls (a record for Bayreuth) and was widely acclaimed as a brilliant interpretation of the Ring.
The Amazon editorial review:
"According to director Patrice Chereau, "Götterdämmerung undoubtedly presents a world in which no values exist any more... a world in which it is difficult for anyone to believe in anything any longer." It is truly, as its title proclaims, "The twilight of the gods." Siegfried is tricked, drugged, and treacherously murdered by power-hungry humans, deceived into betraying Brunnhilde, who remains faithful without hope. An air of weariness and decadence pervades the action and much of the music (though the score includes two of Wagner's finest instrumental inventions: Siegfried's Rhine journey and his funeral music.) A new note is the introduction of a chorus of humans (effectively used by Chereau) for the first time in the cycle. The heyday of the gods is over; now, world domination is sought by a human family, the Gibichungs.
The cursed ring is stolen from Brunnhilde, who has kept it as a token of Siegfried's love. Siegfried, who has taken the ring in disguise, has been drugged and deceived into wooing Gutrune, a Gibichung. Brunnhilde is forced to marry Gunther, another Gibichung, but still faithful to Siegfried she commits suicide on his funeral pyre. The fire spreads to destroy Valhalla. The ring, snatched from Siegfried's dead hand, is dropped into the Rhine, where it is restored to its rightful place, and the situation returns to the normality of the time before Das Rheingold.
The Gibichungs, new to the cycle, are well-portrayed by Franz Mazura and Jeanne Altmeyer, and Fritz Hübner is impressive as the treacherous Hagen. Gwemdolyn Killibrew stands out as Brunnhilde's ally Waltraute. As always, Pierre Boulez conducts with a clear vision of the total work."