Richard’s Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung is, without doubt, one of the most ambitious operatic works in the history of Western music. It comprises four separate operas, which Wagner based not only on the German Nibelungenlied but also on the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, and Völsunga Saga, which he had in German translation. He worked for a quarter-century on the Ring cycle, which puts his genius as composer and librettist on full display.
The storyline of The Valkyrie comes largely from Völsunga Saga. A tempest is raging, and Siegmund seeks shelter in the home of Sieglinde and her husband, Hunding. He and Sieglinde fall in love, and the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, daughter of Wotan, disobeys her father by helping Siegmund in his bid to fight a duel with Hunding. Wotan punishes her by stripping her of her divine status as a Valkyrie, transforming her into a mortal woman. He condemns her to lie sleeping on the mountain surrounded by flames until an intrepid hero awakens her with a kiss.
This opulent musical drama is one of the masterpieces of the 19th century, and the famous Ride of the Valkyries is well known to most music lovers. This is the first time The Valkyrie has been performed in its entirety in Iceland and the first time since 2002 that a full Wagner opera has been programmed. Soprano Christine Goerke sings Brünnhilde, a role she has sung at the Metropolitan Opera among other venues. Wotan is sung by Ólafur Kjartan Sigurðarson, and the Valkyries are performed by a stunning group of Icelandic singers.
The orchestra is conducted by Alexander Vedernikov, who was appointed Chief Conductor of the Royal Danish Opera in 2016. The opera director, Julia Burbach, is on the permanent staff at London’s Covent Garden. Tal Rosner is a BAFTA-winning video designer and director who has worked at the National Theatre in London and Lincoln Center in New York.
The Valkyrie is a collaborative effort of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Icelandic Opera, and the Reykjavík Arts Festival.
Richard Wagner: Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
Iréne Theorin Brünnhilde
Christopher Ventris, Siegmund
Jamie Barton, Fricka
Claire Rutter, Sieglinde
Ólafur Kjartan Sigurðarson, Wotan
Štefan Kocán, Hunding
Lilja Guðmundsdóttir, Helmwige
Sigrún Pálmadóttir, Gerhilde
Margrét Hrafnsdóttir, Ortlinde
Sigríður Ósk Kristjánsdóttir, Waltraute
Agnes Thorsteins, Siegrune
Nathalía D. Halldórsdóttir, Roβweiβe
Hildigunnur Einarsdóttir, Grimgerde
Svanhildur Rósa Pálmadóttir, Schwertleite