Relayed from the Assembly Room,
PARRY JONES (Tenor) FOSTER RICHARDSON
CHOIR OF The
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymrn)
Conducted by WARWICK BRAITHWA1TE -
' The Twilight of the Gods'
(Ring of the Nibelungs.
FOSTER RICHARDSON and Orchestra
Ha gen's Watch.
FOSTER RICHARDSON, MALE CHORUS, and Orchestra
Hagen's Call. Scene 1
PARRY JONES and Orchestra
Siegfried's Death Song
Siegfried's Funeral March
STILES ALLEN and Orchestra
WAGNER began the work which afterwards grow into the great trilogy of the Nibelungs Ring ' (although there are four works in it, it is usually thought of as & trilogy, the first being a Prelude to the other three) as a single opera called ' Siegfried's Death.' It was only afterwards that he realized that the story of it depended so much on what had gone before, that he embarked on the much bigger work which we now know. The only alternative would have been to make the characters themselves explain, in the course of the action, what had led up to the final catastrophe, and Wagner himself had no doubt that it was in every way better to let the story tell itself. It is so splendid a tale as.to be well worth reading, quite apart from the music, and it is available in more than one passably good English version. Listeners, musical or otherwise, would find its interest repay the closest study, and familiarity with the story and with all its underlying symbolism is necessary if one is really to understand the full meaning and beauty of Wagner's music.
The name ' Götterdammerung ' is not easy to translate, and to call it either the ' Twilight' or the ' Dusk' of the gods is to miss a part of its significance. It conveys something of fading away, and by the end of the drama the whota race of the old gods has vanished. Siegfried. too, has been slain, the last of the heroic line of the Walsungs, and his bride Briinnhilde. But it is through her sacrifice that redemption ii promised to the coming race of men. It is the . great motive of redemption which dominates the music of the closing scene, when the Rhine Maidens have won back the Ring made of their precious gold, and the curse which clung about, it so long as it was in the hands of gods or of men has been taken from the earth. Deeply tragic as the story is, it thus closes on a note of promise; it has besides, in its course, passages of real joyous-ness, which serve but to emphasize the sombre episodes and figures.
Hagen, who sits on guard before his own Hall, in the first episode to be presented, is of the Nibelung's kin ; he is scheming to win the Ring from Siegfried ; no treachery nor guile is to stand in his way.
At the beginning of the second extract he is summoning the vassals from the lands about the banks of the Rhine; a great hunt in the forest is being planned, and already Siegfried's death has been decided on, Hagen having contrived, by means of a magic potion, to make him false to Brünnhilde and forgetful of his own past life.
In the third act, the hunting party has rested by the banks of the river, and Siegfried has sung of his adventures before he came on the ill-fated journey to the Rhine; Hagen has stabbed the hero in the back with his spear. Siegfried sings a last ecstatic greeting to Briinnhilde.
Then, as the men bear him across the rocks on his own shield, as night falls and a. pale moou shines through the trees, we hear the majestic solemnity of what we call his ' funeral march.'
The last great scene is once more in the Hall of Hagen's clan. Siegfried's body is burned on a great funeral pyre, and when Briinnhilde has sung an eloquent farewell, she mounts her Valkyr horse and leaps into the flames. The Rhine overflows, and the Rhine Maidens swim through the flood to take their Ring from Briinnhilde's finger amid the ashes. The pyre and all it holds are carried away by the flood, and in the distance the home of the gods, Valhalla, can be seen in flames, crumbling to its ruin.