San Francisco Opera broadcasts return to Classical 90.5 at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, August 31st, with a performance of Die Walküre by Richard Wagner, with a libretto by the composer. This co-production with Washington National Opera will be sung in German and will run approximately four hours and thirty minutes. Donald Runnicles conducts.
A wounded deity comes to realize the limits of his power in the heartbreaking second installment of Wagner's Ring cycle. Wotan, king of the gods, strives to undo the curse of the ring at the heart of the story by fathering a pure-of-heart hero by a mortal woman to recover the ring. But he finds himself torn as events spin out of control and his offspring defy his will. Things go awry when Siegmund stumbles upon the home of Sieglinde, his unrecognized twin sister. Although Sieglinde is the wife of Siegmund’s sworn enemy, the two are mutually attracted and consummate their incestuous relationship. Wotan’s outraged wife Fricka, protector of marriage vows, demands that Wotan order his daughter, the warrior-maiden Brünnhilde, not to protect Siegmund, but to let him die in battle against Sieglinde’s husband. Disobeying Wotan, Brünnhilde tries in vain to prevent Siegmund’s death, but rescues the pregnant Sieglinde. To punish Brünnhilde’s disobedience, Wotan puts her into a deep sleep, surrounded by fire, to await a mortal husband.
Wotan’s deeply loving, but disobedient daughter is sung by soprano Nina Stemme, who makes her Ring cycle debut. Stemme is a performer of "fearless emotional intensity," said The New York Times. Following her performance in Die Walküre, the San Francisco Chronicle praised Stemme as "a superb Brünnhilde, bringing buoyancy and verve to the role." Soprano Anja Kampe "sang with prodigious grace and power," noted the Associated Press, as Sieglinde at Washington National Opera, and she joins tenor Brandon Jovanovich in his role debut as Siegmund.