Interrupted by a bitter and irrelevent crescendo of musketry, the music of Richard Wagner ceased, in 1917, to be heard at the Metropolitan Opera House, Manhattan. This winter has been revived The Ring of the Nibelungen-famed cycle which includes Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried, Gotterdammerung. Between the date of interruption and the date of this revival, a number of Wagner operas have been presented at the Metropolitan. Die Walkure was revived with eclat in 1921, Siegfried in 1924. Yet these performances have been isolated in the flood of Italian melody: Lucia, Aida, Tosca, Rigoletto. Now among such pretty pieces comes Wagner like a Titan, mightily marching.
To present the Ring, In toto is a stupendous task even for a company of as vast resources as the Metropolitan. Director Gatti-Casazza had at hand a conductor who was capable and famed as an interpreter of Wagner, Mr. Artur Bodanzky; yet singers had to be enticed from here and there, choruses marshaled, great scenes built. These difficulties were mastered.
Operagoers, meanwhile, rehearsed in their memories the mythology upon which Herr Wagner built his cycle—his grim gods warring upon each other, loving, reveling, cursing; his goblins, heroes, witch-women.
Das Rheingold. To the river-nymphs who lodge in twilight on the Rhine's green bottom, comes Alberich, a dwarf, whose ears have been pierced with the sweetness of their music and whose eyes have been dazzled by the gold over which they watch. In mockery they tell him that, if he forswears love, he will have power to steal the Rheingold; that if he steals the Rheingold, he will "own the world and all its mighty power." Alberich scrambles to the gold, curses love, vanishes. He has his brother Mime hammer the gold into a helmet which makes him invisible, into a magic ring. Wotan, father of the gods, needs the gold to pay a ransom, seeks out Alberich, takes ring and helmet from him. "Cursed is he who wears that ring," cries Alberich. Then lovely Erda, mother of the Norns, appears to Wotan. "Twilight shall come upon the gods," she says; "their proud towers will crash down. Woe to Wotan." Shaken by this awful utterance, Wotan gives the ring to the Giants, forthwith leads the gods over a rainbow to Walhalla while through the brassy progress of his going rings a sound of far despair-the cry of the Rhinemaidens who lament, with sad throats from the depths of the river.
Die Walkure. Wotan shivered in Walhalla, fearful of his enemies who possessed the ring. Therefore he dressed like a man and, suiting his behavior to the part, begot some descendants (The Race of the Walsungs) one of whom, he determined, should regain the ring.
Siegmund, the Walsung, loves his sister, Sieglinde. Hunding, husband of Sieglinde, fights Siegmund. Wotan sends Brünnhilde, his favorite Walkyrie, to turn the fight for Hunding. (Fierce are the Walkyries; they bear the shields of the warrior gods, and whir before them into battle).