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Richard Wagnerbio:

Siegfried Idyll


Die Walküre - Act I




Other information

The event is about 2.5 hours long.

About the event

The day after the Beethoven concert, the Festival Orchestra will perform works by a composer with personal ties to Lucerne. Richard Wagner had many wonderful experiences in Lucerne. In his beautiful house overlooking a lake in Tribschen, he lived with his love, Cosima, the mother of his children, who was finally able to divorce her former husband. They were married here and their first son, Siegfried was also born here. In this idyllic atmosphere a serenade, the Siegfried idyll, was composed which draws not only on the Siegfried but also on the motifs of Die Walküre. The composition of the Nibelung tetralogy was also coming to an end. This time, the most romantic act of the nearly 16-hour long Ring will be performed by three internationally acclaimed Wagner singers: the Finnish Camilla Nylund, the German Klaus Florian Vogt and the Austrian Günther Groissböck.

"Tribschen idyll with Fidi's bird song and orange sunrise, performed by Richard as a symphonic birthday greeting to his Cosima in 1870", says the title page of what is now simply known as the Siegfried idyll. On Christmas morning 1870, Cosima's birthday, dozens of musicians gathered in the staircase of the Wagners' home in Tribschen to wake the celebrant with a fabulous serenade. After the performance, Siegfried, alias Fidi together with his brothers handed over the score to their mother, who happily rose from her bed in their orange-wallpapered bedroom. The piece is made up of the melodies of Siegfried, who would go through even fire for love, and Brünnhilde, who awakens from her sleep to a loving glance - symbolising the invincibility of Wagner and Cosima's relationship. The music climaxes with Siegfried's famous bird song. Although Wagner had not intended to publish the work, financial difficulties led him still to publish it in 1877 in his own transcription for large orchestra.

Storm. A tired wanderer arrives to the house, asking for shelter. The mistress of the house looks after and comforts the newcomer, even though her husband, returning from a hunt, is mistrustful of him. When they turn out to be enemies, he challenges the young man, who is protected by the right of hospitality that day, to a duel the next day and goes to sleep. The wanderer and the mistress get together; their names (Siegmund and Sieglinde) are not coincidentally similar: they are twins and also lovers. Siegmund pulls out a sword, rustling in a log at the end of the garden, which only a worthy man can wield, and awaits the battle the next day well armed and in spiritually superior position.

This is the plot of the first act of Die Walküre, a key scene in the intricate struggle for the ring of power. The parents of Siegfried, the main character of the opera cycle meet and pledge their eternal allegiance to each other here. Wagner had been working for several decades on The Ring of the Nibelung, inspired by German and Scandinavian legends and fairy tales. The second part, The Walküre was completed in 1856 and has remained the most popular and most frequently performed stand-alone work in the tetralogy ever since.

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