DVD clips from two different Metropolitan Opera productions of Wagner’s Die Walküre

MUS 307 Spring 2017
Take-home essay for final exam (50 points)
Due Monday, May 15, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.

DVD clips from two different Metropolitan Opera productions of Wagner’s Die Walküre, end of Act III, scene 3(Brünnhilde and Wotan) are available at Met Opera On Demand, which is now available to us at Stony Brook through the following URL:
http://metopera.org/season/on-demand/
1. Metropolitan Opera, 1989
2. Metropolitan Opera, 2011
The two productions reflect very different aesthetic choices in terms of the way this particular scene is staged in each clip:

1) The first one is from the Metropolitan Opera production—not the current one, but the one before that—and is directed by Otto Schenk and designed by Günther Schneider-Siemsen—and is a conservative production that by and large respects Wagner’s ideas and stage directions. It is set in the mythical Nordic past.http://metopera.org/season/on-demand/
2) The second one is the new, current production by the Metropolitan opera, directed by Robert Le Page. http://metopera.org/season/on-demand/
Log onto the URL (you can only access this on campus at this point). When the page comes up, scroll down, and to the left you’ll find a list of the operas available on this site, listed in alphabetical order. Near the end of the list you’ll find Die Walküre. You’ll see that they list two video productions and a number of audio selections. When you open the video, you’ll see that there are two productions of this opera. The one to the left is the new one, filmed in 2011. The other one is from 1989, I believe. I would start with the older one. When you click on the image, a new page will come up, and if you move the cursor to the right of the page you’ll see that a list comes up with track numbers. For the 1989 production, you scroll down to track 45 and start playing there, continuing through tracks 46 and 47 to the end of the opera. Then you do the same thing for the 2011 production, but there the tracks start with 41 and go through 42 and 43 to the end of the opera. Once you start your viewing with track 45 for the first, and track 41 for the second, just keep watching—it goes automatically through the remaining two tracks.

The scene begins with Wotan’s text “Leb’ wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind,” and involves only Wotan and his daughter Brünnhilde. Although she sings before this scene, from this point on she is silent, but has a very important acting role in this deeply moving scene, in which Wotan punishes his daughter for her disobedience. Although he puts her to sleep and kisses away her godhead, she is his favorite daughter, and their final time together is very powerful emotionally.

After you have watched both, write an essay of 4-5 double-spaced pages in length, comparing these two very different productions, from the standpoint of staging. Your essay should cover the following points:

a) From the German/English libretto (“WalküreIII.3.libretto.pptx”; posted under Documents on the Blackboard site), write a short synopsis of this scene, of the type you did for La traviata/La Dame aux Camélias. Include the setting (where it takes place and when), the characters (who is singing, and what their relations are to one another), and a short summary of what takes place in this scene.
b) Observe carefully how the scene is staged in each clip. Notice the set, costumes, whatever lighting you can see from a video clip, and the movements, actions, gestures, and facial expressions of the singers. Take note of the main differences in approach and discuss them in detail in the central section of your paper.Do the singers follow the stage directions in Wagner’s libretto? If not, how do their actions differ from those Wagner writes in his stage directions.
c) The last section of your essay should be about your personal reaction to these two productions: which one do you prefer, and why? Do the design and staging decisions help you to understand what is going on in the scene and clarify its message?

In order to help you prepare for this, I have scanned some pages that discuss various aspects of the stage directors’ conceptions behind these four productions. These are all contained in the file “Walkprod_notes.2017.pdf” posted under Documents. I have also posted the German libretto of this scene, with the English translation in parallel columns; the libretto is in the document “WalküreIII.3.libretto.pptx”

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