Travelogue LVII: Bayreuth IV: Ring

Frank Castorf's Ring production: Euro-trash or a provocative examination of capitalism, greed, US-Germany relations, etc. etc? Here, the final act of Siegfried under a socialistic Mount Rushmore.

Frank Castorf’s Ring production: Euro-trash or a provocative examination of capitalism, oil, US-Germany relations, etc. etc? Here, the final act of Siegfried under a socialistic Mount Rushmore. (All Photos)

August 31, 2015 And just like that, the curtain closed on the final act of Götterdämmerung and we were applauding, partly out of enthusiasm and partly out of relief, fifteen hours of music and bad seats behind us, and then we walked down the five flights of steps from the Galarie one last time and drank one more glass of wine and took the taxi back to the hostel. “Ah well,” said the man who sat next to me through all four operas, “I suppose it’s time to leave the Magic Mountain and re-enter the real world.” Indeed.

Götterdãmmerung: the Gibichungs are owners of a Döner shop somewhere in the slums of Berlin.

Götterdãmmerung: the Gibichungs are owners of a Döner shop somewhere in the slums of Berlin.

I think, in the end, it will be the smaller moments that will stick with me the most. Like standing behind the brass players, close enough to touch them, as they played Siegfried and Brünnhilde’s theme on the balcony in the rain at the end of an intermission. Or like our picnics on the lawn, and the local Bayreuther who walked by every day at precisely 6:30 with a big, fat, drooling, wheezing, entirely self-satisfied bulldog, to the general disgust of the ball-gowned Festival guests.

Or walking back in a torrential downpour after the best Siegfried I had heard in my life, with Anders from Denmark and Philip and Thomas from Germany, to drip-dry and drink cheap wine in some sketchy Turkish restaurant next to the train station, and talking and talking until the restaurant owner threw us out.

Or the sudden enlightenment from talking to more knowledgeable Wagnerians in between acts. So that’s why it’s set on Alexanderplatz! And that’s the reason for the dynamic between Siegfried and the Forest Bird. It’s not just regie-trash, something is actually being said! Clarity through exchange, there.

Siegfried and the Forest Bird on pre-reunification Alexanderplatz.

Siegfried and the Forest Bird on pre-reunification Alexanderplatz.

As cheesy as it sounds, I suppose it really all did come down to the people in the end–those crazy, passionate, snobby, suffering, over-dressed, opinionated, cynical-yet-somehow-endearing Festival-goers.

There was the gentleman behind me, for instance, who had sat in the Festspielhaus 79 times starting in 1961 and could remember the most minute details about every production he had seen. All that, while wearing full Bavarian dress: Lederhosen, red-and-white checked shirt, cap with feather.

Or the overly zealous Asian in front of me, who wept over a dog-eared copy of the libretto in between acts and booed the production until he was hoarse. Or the James Levine look-alike (I swear, it was this guy!) beside him, who took it as his personal duty to drown out the boos with so many enthusiastic BRAVIs that he almost fell over the balcony. And on and on and on…..

At any rate, I’ll be back.

Brünnhilde and the Rhine Maidens in the closing scene of Götterdãmmerung, against a backdrop of the New York Stock Exchange, previously the wrapped Reichstag.

Brünnhilde and the Rhine Maidens in the closing scene of Götterdãmmerung, against a backdrop of the New York Stock Exchange, previously the wrapped Reichstag.

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7 thoughts on “Travelogue LVII: Bayreuth IV: Ring

  1. Emily, So happy for you that got to go to this. It looks like the scenery was beautiful and a very expensive production.  I think if this was done in the US it would play for years to pay for the costumes and scenery. Hope you do have a chance to do this again. When they do this next year, will the production be the same or do they change it every year? Granny

    From: Emily Abroad To: crgoodling@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, August 31, 2015 4:14 AM Subject: [New post] Travelogue LVII: Bayreuth IV: Ring #yiv3852271989 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3852271989 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3852271989 a.yiv3852271989primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3852271989 a.yiv3852271989primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3852271989 a.yiv3852271989primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3852271989 a.yiv3852271989primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3852271989 WordPress.com | EmilyAbroad posted: “August 31, 2015 And just like that, the curtain closed on the final act of Götterdämmerung and we were applauding, partly out of enthusiasm and partly out of relief, fifteen hours of music and bad seats behind us, and then we walked down the five flig” | |

  2. Hi Emily – was very happy to find your blog and read about your exploits in Bayreuth. I’ve been 4 times, but not since 2000. The place has gotten a little to weird for me, but I still apply for tix every year, just in case. Anyway, your post brought back some fun (and excruciating) memories of my time spent on the Green Hill. Thanks for sharing and, perhaps, you’ll check out my brand-new blog: TheCulturedTraveler

    • Thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing your fascinating blog! Yes, excruciating and weird are very good words to describe Bayreuth–but I’ll be back again as soon as possible, anyway. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Blog Detour – Bayreuth | theculturedtraveler

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