In Which its not Carry on Tristan. Plus Huddersfield Town – Bumper Wembley Issue!


Post 29

This week, that fine BBC radio programme In Our Time featured a discussion on Purgatory. Don didn’t listen to it but thought referencing it here would raise the general tone and bolster his tarnished reputation following the rather scruffy Post 28. Surely one of the lessons of the concept of Purgatory is that nothing lasts for ever. And so it is with some relief that season 2016/17 has finally finished and gone to a better place. Such was the reverential atmosphere at the latest Stop! Hammertime podcast featuring some sensible people and none other than Don. Should you wish to pay respects to the recently departed season you may do so here . If he can find them, Don will re-live one or two season “highlights” below. [Spoiler alert, scroll to the end for some footie – stay here for the classy stuff].

In other news, excitement builds for the forthcoming Longborough Festival Opera and Don will be there, in Morton-in-Marsh, for the opening night of Tristan and Isolde. It will be a magical evening and so in eager anticipation lets consider a few aspects, even some magical ones. So much has been written about it, so much seen in it; Don will merely scratch the surface.

It’s easy to be disdainful of the story of Tristan and Isolde. Two lovers, deceiving a cuckolded (would be) husband. More so, if one considers Gottfried von Strassburg’s medieval poem upon which Wagner drew extensively. This and the copious other accounts of the Tristan legend emphasised the cunning ruses played out by the artful lovers in their attempts to deceive King Marke.

But Wagner generally ignored the ribald “Carry On Tristan” aspects and honed it into an intense and deep psychological drama in which the real action occurs within the minds of King Marke and the eponymous two, as much as anywhere else. In this way we have a pinpoint edgy piece more in keeping with Alfred Hitchcock than Sid James.

Let’s take two medieval legends identified in Newman and elsewhere; they are both interesting and also draw out deeper nuances of the characters, in these cases, of Marke in particular. But first, the basics one needs to know, is that Tristan is the erstwhile loyal and favoured nephew of the King who was sent from Cornwall to Ireland to fetch Isolde (Iseut) as the King’s mate (and so future Queen). This was a strategic alliance with a defeated but still aggressive enemy and Iseut, the fiery Irish maid, is brought back under sufferance (to put it mildly).  The two fall in love on the journey due to a love potion but more significantly to previous complications.

So the two legends;

  1. Tristan and Iseut have fled and are living rough in a Cornish forest to escape the wrath of King Marke. They are discovered and the King is alerted. He finds them asleep in a cave, lips touching and with Tristan’s sword between them. King Marke has the right and the ability to kill them both as per his original intention. Instead and we can and shall ponder why, he leaves them in their sleepy embrace. But when they awake, they are in no doubt by virtue of various signs, that he was there and has chosen to spare them and ipso facto legitimise the adultery.
  2. In death, the lovers are buried by King Marke, at opposite sides of a graveyard. Briars emerge from each grave and reach across the graveyard to become entwined. King Marke has them hacked down. Twice more the briars reach out to each other and twice more are they cut down. On the third occasion, he leaves them and orders that they shall never be touched but left in perpetual embrace.

Neither of these legends appears in the opera but they feed into what the characters, including here King Marke, were feeling.

For ultimately Tristan, not just Wagner’s Tristan, though it is especially so, is about the transcendence of Love. Emphasis for now on transcendence because Love is too big a concept for this world; it is too big a concept for a concept. It transcends. The magic in Tristan is not a potion here or there, the magic is love, which, where it is so powerful that it metamorphoses two souls into one, it cannot be boxed in by important but wordly concepts like Honour, Loyalty and Trust. It must burst beyond this life and find peace only in death or wherever is beyond our understanding.

So in a possible answer to the question posed in Post 27; how much Schopenhauer does a Tristan or Isolde performer need to understand?, the answer is probably not too much. But Don (from his naïve non-musical soap-box), feels she certainly must understand where love sits in comparison to those other honourable attributes and how a certain type of love  can only be truly sated beyond this life. One doesn’t need to have understood Arthur Schop to feel this.

This doesn’t mean Trust, Honour, Loyalty wilt away without protest. Wordly responsibilities weigh heavy, as we are transported by the music inside Tristan’s head in Acts 2 and 3. His disloyalty to his uncle and King is killing him; indeed it is guilt over his love for Isolde from the pre- story, that makes him volunteer to “fetch” her back to Cornwall in the first place.

This cannot be intellectualized, this must be felt and in Don’s view it can only be wholly felt where it resonates with life experience. Only a parent can truly feel what Wotan feels in bidding Leb Wohl to Brunhilde and only one who has loved and lost and balanced other loyalties can truly “feel” Tristan and/or Isolde. And this is also the majesty of good art. It can take a story from a thousand years before and extrapolate the timeless mythical aspects to make it real now. In Don’s limited experience Wagner does this like no other. As much as Shakespeare tries, it cannot be done simply with words. They are descriptive, prescriptive, clinical by comparison. Music though…is soul. And in Tristan, where those cellos and violins are in utter supremacy, music reaches into ours, burglarizes and leaves us a wretched mess.

In a sense the tension between word and music applies within the opera. It is probably beyond doubt that is one of Wagner’s less wordy operas. Various academics say Isolde claims the music and Tristan the poetry.

Back to Schopenhauer. There is a reason that Don bleats on about him in regard to Tristan in particular. Wagner had completed Das Rheingold and Die Valkyrie and most of Siegfried when his reading, nay consumption of Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation, caused such an epiphany in his world outlook that he abandoned his Ring Cycle to let his thoughts settle. He would say his world view was not changed but clarified by Schopenhauer which meant the direction of the Ring Cycle needed to be arrested. It would be 12 years before he was ready to adjust Siegfried’s path and the first opera he produced in the interregnum was Tristan. Of course with Wagner, rivers do not run smoothly and there were also pragmatic reasons to create an “easier” opera , such as putting food on the table but the fact remains that Wagner thought differently for the rest of his life after initially reading Schopenhauer and the first piece he produced was Tristan.

The legend of Tristan extends beyond, well, beyond the legend. Tales of Wagner’s composition of it as well as early performances also play on its psychological force and add grist to the mill.

As he concluded the work, Wagner wrote to his muse Mathilde Wesendonke in 1859, only partly in jest….”Child! This Tristan is turning into something terrible! This final Act!!! – I fear the opera will be banned, unless the whole thing will be parodied in a bad performance -. Only mediocre performances can save me! Perfectly good ones will be bound to drive people mad.” And it did.

Whether or not acted upon, it is a comfortable leap that for Wagner, the Tristan/Isolde/Marke triptych, was himself, Mathilde and his long-suffering wife, Minne. Moreover, a decade or so later, after it finally debuted,  the first conductor, Hans von Bulow, assumed the real life King Marke role as he gave up his wife Cosima to Wagner, if not willingly then at least with good grace. As life to an extent imitated art, he loved his wife but worshipped the composer.

The first ever Tristan, in the opera associated as much as any other with the ultimate sacrifice, Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld lasted four apparently memorable performances before a tragically early death, aged just 29.

Musicians have gone insane, lives have been lost under their own hand; all attributed to this opera.

In Thomas Mann’s novel Buddenbrooks, Pfuhl, the music tutor, engaged to teach the young student Hanno recoils at the prospect of playing Tristan to his young charge. As he says to Hanno’s mother… ”I won’t play this Madam. I am your most obedient servant but I will not play it. That is not music…It is pure chaos! It is demagoguery, blasphemy and madness! It is a fragrant frog with thunderbolts! It is the end of all morality in the arts. I will not play it!”  The young boy Hanno, is later exposed to the forbidden musical fruit which leads to his death.

Mark Twain, on a visit to Germany, heard Tristan at Bayreuth and commented: “I know of some, and have heard of many, who could not sleep after it, but cried the night away. [Wikipedia]

So what the hell is it about this piece that provokes such extreme emotion?

It all starts with the Tristan chord. A few notes, a few seconds and music changed forever. A chord that doesn’t settle but ends in a question; a question that will not be answered for over four hours and then after trial, tribulation, tension building on tension, finally, finally finds an end, resolving in death, the ultimate peace. A grateful longed for death.

For the players, orchestra and audience it has been a psychological and emotional experience like no other in opera. Here’s a hint of what they are going through.

Marke: a proud King. Trusts Tristan implicitly. When Tristan betrays that trust he  questions what is trust, what is loyalty when the personification of both falls short. Ultimately forgives his nephew, lieutenant and friend.

Isolde: Her hatred for Tristan has several strands. He represents the imperialist conquering force. He killed the great Irish warrior (and her lover/betrothed?) Morholt and then mortally wounded himself, deceived Isolde into using her magical powers to cure him and in curing, love him. Above all though, she hates him for returning to her, not as lover but to claim her for another. Yet even her hatred wilts under the radiant intensity of her love for him. A love she did not seek but a love that claimed her.

Tristan: A loyal servant to his King, to whom he has devoted his life he too does not seek love but it is thrust upon him, he cannot be both loyal to his King and be with the women he loves. Only in secret night can they share a half-life and only in ultimate night; death, can he find moral resolution, and only in death does that half-life become whole.

Only in death can the half-life Purgatory finally end and the lovers find release and peace.

Only in death can it be Tristan and Isolde, Isolde and Tristan. Only in death can he become Isolde and she Tristan. Only in death (or at least the final curtain), can the audience be released from the tension of the Tristan Chord. Happy Days!


West Ham? The best we can say is the season is dead and buried. Resurrection and fresh optimism awaits in August.


As we write, a penalty rolls into the bottom left corner and with it Mr.Wagner and Huddersfield Town roll into the Premier League. Tristan and Isolde bites into the soul but in terms of nail-biting drama, its hard to beat what I’ve just watched. Will Don be good to his word and abandon West Ham for Wagner and Huddersfield? How will he Tristan like, deal with those opposing loyalties? Those good Yorkshire folk will understand when I say..”Welcome Mr Wagner, welcome Huddersfield Town. But don’t be so soft, lad. Tristan and Isolde? Don bleeds Claret and Blue.”


If you have been, thanks for listening.


© 2017


In Which Don learns to cope with disappointment and stinking the place out.

Post 23

March 1970. Don was 9 and a half years old. Life to that point had smiled upon this little boy. Immediate relatives all alive and in good health, no major crisis. Yes, tonsils and adenoids had gone missing at Whipps Cross hospital several years earlier but the plethora of toys garnered as a result more than made up for the loss. Unlike the East End a generation earlier, Clayhall did not suffer a Luftwaffe blitz, Don was not plucked from his family and evacuated to Bedfordshire and West Ham had won most trophies on offer, both on domestic and world stage. The sun generally shone. What could possibly burst this bubble of contentment?

One of Don’s heroes upped and left, that’s what. Martin Peters transferred to Tottenham for a then record of £200,000 with an ailing Jimmy Greaves coming the other way. Up to that point, it was inconceivable to Don that anyone would want to leave the Hammers, never mind to Spurs. £200,000?? What did money even have to do with football?


Martin Peters, born Plaistow, grew up at West Ham, idolised by the fans. Yet there he wasn’t. Gone. It was a watershed moment. It dawned on Don that it was possible that players’ relationship with the club was different from fans’. Whether concepts such as ambition, career advancement, security and family planning (steady), formulated properly in Don’s mind or simply huddled into a general queasy feeling, history does not record.

Either way, Don was disappointed and grew up a little. And so must we with Dimitri Payet. Of course these days your average nine year old is so well versed in FIFA football finance, they could draft his new contract so it is the under sevens and over 30’s that deserve our sympathy. He is going and we won’t see his like again down the London Stadium for a long time. Despite (or perhaps because of) the bitterness currently festering, we mustn’t lose sight of what a wonderful player he is. Like Tevez, it was a bit of luck that such genius wound up with us and we must cherish the golden season we had. Last season was always going to be epic but none of us could have anticipated the quality of the football, results and memories created by the team, largely instigated by Payet. He was our Toscanini, our von Karajan.

This season the genius has gone missing. Can we cope without this Payet? Easily. In creative terms he has been average and defensively a disaster; time and again losing the ball in dangerous areas and exposing a dragged out of position defence. Can one replace Payet of last season? Impossible for a club like us. Domestically, only Coutinho comes close. I wouldn’t put Özil or Erikson in the same class, good as they are.

And cope we did against Crystal Palace.


Don missed it, visiting a daughter who is being a hippy in the desert, so it was left to Little Don to represent the family. By all accounts a stirring second half performance incorporating (inevitably as Don wasn’t there), the goal of the century. I won’t go on – who needs to read my account of not being there?

Earlier in the week it was with great pleasure that Don returned to the Stop!Hammertime studios to record a podcast looking back on various recent defeats – so a laugh a minute. Actually not as depressing as it sounds and if you didn’t catch it, you can do so here:  Mike Dean: Schrodinger’s Prat .

To compound matters, we have our transfer activity. Little annoys Don more than seeing our constant and even official communications on what business we are trying to do. Its like we have a policy of keeping Daniel Levy in the loop so he can scoop us at the last minute. Fortunately (sic), they have I fear, moved out of our league on the transfer front but I swear other clubs are not as vocal as we insist on being. I read with disappointment and amazement Jacob Steinberg’s piece in The Guardian, that in the history of the Premier League we have not had a 20 goal a season striker – that’s 25 years! Read the full horror here . So why am I surprised we have failed to nail down that sharpshooter in the last window or this? Misery doom and gloom; and all this before we have seen Trump in action.

And yet, in what we at Don Towers assume is now PPE (post Payet era), does one detect a new cohesiveness and bunker spirit, hitherto absent? Its almost as though the stadium needed a jolt to set it on fire and maybe this has been it. There is a yearning among the support to be passionate but needs a catalyst. Passion is needed from the team to unleash passion from the support. We have had a taste. Slaven in his almost tearful press conference is a rock on whom one can rely in difficult times. Several skillful members of the squad, now out of Payet’s shadow, seem to be chomping at the bit to show what they can do, .

So there you have it, despite a week of disappointment, Don is really looking forward to the next few games.

It should not be hard to link Wagner to a post on disappointment. It characterised most of his adult life as project after project failed for every conceivable reason other than himself, until finally getting it right. But I’m not sure I am going to. This is about Payet.

There is much to look forward to re Wagner in future posts. Die Meistersinger is coming to town in March and as well as seeing that (several times), Don is looking forward to a one day study guide to that masterpiece in February. The wonderful Opera North production of the Ring Cycle is coming to our screens. Don saw that last summer in Nottingham and reviewed it extensively on here. Why one would watch semi-staged on tv I’m not sure but there we are, more on that in real time.

So there you have it. We’ve shed tears, we’ve rented our collective hearts asunder and we’ve cracked heads on walls. All fun activity no doubt but none of it shall return us the Payet of last season. So lets get what we can for him and move him on asap. Don doesn’t always agree with Redknapp but Harry had it right when he said if Payet plays for us again, he’ll stink the place out.

If you have been, thanks for listening.


© 2017





In which Don experiments with 50 Shades of Wagner and drops the Cup.

Post 10

A nice chap on the Stop! Hammertime Facebook page asked this week how he might gain a deeper understanding of Wagner . The fact that he’s asking me goes to show that in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king (excuse Wotan pun). Because you will know by now that Don’s knowledge is strictly amateur, self taught and emanating from of an initial position of perfect ignorance.

Nevertheless, like Parsifal, the naive observer just occasionally appreciates nuances not immediately apparent to the technical music student, or at least as well as such person, so why shouldn’t Don impart his thoughts?

I find Wagner can tell a story with his music in a wonderful way; conveying thoughts and feelings that one wouldn’t have thought possible with a few notes. No doubt other composers do this too but this blog is not about them.

And thus, Don tries his hand at a bit if erotic fiction..

Dawn. Sleep gradually recedes; gently ushered along by the sun’s first rays on your face and the gentlest of summer breezes on your skin. You try to blink eyes open but sleepy mucas encrusts your lashes.

You have slept the sleep of the innocent and are at complete rest. It is the weekend and no reason to get up. After a night of passion,  the comforting pressure of her limb on yours creates a slight but lovely numbness. You sense her chest undulating as she breathes, still asleep; her breath is sweet but with a hint of morning staleness and all the more endearing for that. Summer sheets are entwined with bodies and a little stickiness adorns flesh.

Another blisteringly hot day in prospect but now it is cool and perfect. You have important things to do but there’s no rush and you are supremely confident in your ability. Not least because of the support and love of your partner and lover.

Rested, sated, confident.

Hold those thoughts and listen to this.

If that doesn’t work google Tagesgrauen and play the first 3 mins 30.

I  hope you enjoyed it and felt it was suitable to the above scenario. In my view, these are precisely the thoughts and feelings Wagner was hoping to convey as Siegfried and Brunhilde awake in the Prologue to Gotterdammerung. As we know with Dylan, the Beatles, Bernstein, Verdi, Wagner and many others, music tells a story like no other art form because it touches the heart like no other.


A rainbow arced over the east stand at Upton Park last Wednesday but alas it did not lead to Wembley. No one can deny we were pretty poor and deserved what we got…nothing.  I was surprised by the selection of Valencia over Emineke and feared his general ineffectiveness up front and habit of giving the ball away would draw Antonio too far forward and we’d be exposed. So it proved. Not all Valencia’s fault. It can’t be easy playing sporadically between injury and he’s clearly lost some confidence. I expect him to leave in the summer and that’s probably right.

For two games running, I could be critical of the manager’s opening line up and tactics but generally he’s still Super Slav and he and his coaching team enjoy the confidence of all, probably without exception.

An early start for Don tomorrow and up to Leicester, via Market Bosworth; another defeat must end all hopes of top four. No one has got the double over us this season and I fully expect us to bounce back and close this out for at least a point. We are more than capable and its only Leicester! [How many teams have travelled to the King Power this season saying that?!].


So we have now seen the full nonredacted Olympic Stadium contract. Suddenly supporters and pundits up and down the country are corporate lawyers and have definitive opinions on a seriously complex commercial deal. Honestly, a £270m re-fit and people are concerned with payment of corner flags. If the hint today (Saturday) of the naming rights deal is to be believed, this is looking increasingly like an appropriately balanced deal between a landlord looking to develop a new town centre and its anchor tenant.

Six games left. 60 plus points and European football awaits the brave.

If you have been, thanks for listening.


© 2016


In which Don wonders who has nicked his football team and questions the Renunciation of Love.

Post 6

Hello folks. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. All those voices in my head couldn’t be wrong. It was simply a matter of time before Don’s unique offering was discovered and revealed to the nation. And so it came to pass that I was asked to appear on the Stop! Hammer Time tv show before a live audience at the London Palladium.

Ok so due to some minor technicalities it is for now outrageously, a studio based podcast but Don knows talent when it slaps him in the face and can see where these guys are headed. Phil and Brian were accomplished raconteurs of the airways and made a novice such as myself feel very much at home. Thank you and I earnestly urge my handful of twitter followers to subscribe immediately.

Mind you, my timing was impeccable. Seeing as West Ham had won four (FOUR) games in a row we could have just sat there, silent, with satisfied smiles and allowed the mellow smugness to ooze across the airways and gently waft into receptive brains across east London, Epping Forest and beyond. Medicinal marijuana for the claret and blue masses. However, professionals to a tee, Phil and Brian felt this to be short-changing people and were delightfully entertaining; I did my best to keep up. If you missed it follow the link above.

Which brings me to the theme of this week’s post. Just who the fudge are these blokes pretending to be West Ham? I wasn’t born yesterday; I am old enough and been let down often enough to know that our allotted role is to cling on for dear life in football’s top tier, whilst cultivating an occasional decent player that we can sell to our betters to pay the ‘lecky bill. My suspicion was aroused quite early in the season when we scored from a set piece and then bugger me, some weeks later, we did it again. So that was that.  This current feeling of elation is tempered by the uneasy conviction that there’s a dozen sweaty average to poor footballers chained in some Chadwell Heath basement reminiscing about Gary Breen (no offence Gary).

So whoever these angels really are, I thank them from the bottom of my heart; long may the masquerade continue and may they never get caught.

A cynical man may point to our four victories in February 2014, culminating with that supreme honour, a manger of the month award for our then portly glorious leader. Yes, that’s true but it was an errant highlight as though magic glitter had been accidentally spilled on our dirty floor of a season, before being quickly mopped up, lest someone noticed.

Whereas our current crop are the real McCoy. No one month wonders; these most un-West Ham like performances have continued since August. We go two nil down to our bogey team, no problem; we win 3-2. Need an hour or so for that? Nah, 12 minutes should do it.  I mean who are they? Hey, who cares? When you win the last ever ever Spurs visit to Upton Park, you don’t ask questions, just enjoy man; savour and enjoy.

I am tempted, on such an unrealistic and optimistic a note, to stop there but my other follower likes Wagner and also deserves to be fed. So, talking of imposters, lets consider a question posed by Deryck Cooke (not suggesting the eminent DC is an imposter, read on): Why would Siegmund sing to the Renunciation of Love leitmotiv as he pulls the much needed sword from the tree (he being otherwise weaponless)?. It sure as hell didn’t look like he was renouncing love for the rest of Valkyrie Act 1. A blind man could see he was rejoicing, swimming and drowning in love. Right there, right then and with his sister, to boot. Because if love conquers all, it certainly isn’t going to let some bourgeois convention about sisters being off-limits, stand in its way. So our imposter is a leitmotiv pretending to be something else.

Your honour, the facts as we know them are these; at the beginning of Das Rheingold, the Rheinmaiden Woglinde ill-advisedly tells Alberich that in order to take the gold and fashion it into an all-power bringing ring, one must renounce love. She is accompanied by a melancholy tune, known as the Renunciation of Love motiv and is one of the best known leitmotivs in the Ring Cycle. On the somewhat dubious assumption that we all treasure love beyond any riches or power, so no one would renounce it, the Rhinemaidens thought the gold was safe and frolicked away until Alberich did so renounce and robbed them blind.

Leap forward one opera to Valkyrie Act 1. A stormy night in the forest; Siegmund, warrior at large (on side of goodies only – see hero, Post 5), stumbles exhausted into the unhappy matrimonial home of the lovely Sieglinde and horrible Hunding. Naturally there is a tree growing in the middle of the lounge. She feeds him. They look at each other thinking something’s vaguely familiar, can’t put one’s finger on it. Hunding returns and during social intercourse realises that Siegmund is his tribe’s mortal enemy as he keeps turning up to spoil traditional sport of rape and pillage. Sieglinde’s own marriage to Hunding is both forced and wretched.

Hunding challenges Siegmund to a duel the next morning. Siegmund, a compassionate man, accepts, to both rescue Sieglinde from her plight and (does he yet know this??) to win Sieglinde as his bride. If only waffenloss Siegmund had a weapon. Well wadya know, years before a stranger thrust a sword into the tree on S&H’s wedding night and no-one since could free it.

Until now. Hunding is drugged into an early sleep. The storm breaks, the clouds part and a gleam of light highlights the sword. Sieglinde hopes this is the hero to rescue her from her pig of a husband. Siegmund hopes he is up to the job and with one heave the sword is freed. He now has a mighty weapon and they fall headlong in love and lust, realising without coitus interuptus, that they are long lost, separated as nippers,  Bruder und Schwester. No matter. Too late now.

Never mind the incestuous fun, what worries us is why would he wrench the sword to the Renunciation of Love motive when he’s about to get as luvvy as its possible to get?

As he pulls the sword form the tree, he sings “Holiest love’s most mighty need, passionate longing’s feverish need, brightly burns in my breast, drives to deed and death”. As Solomon below says, this has the flavour of affirming, not renouncing love. [Though as we know from Alberich love and sex are two different things].

I am by no means a serious scholar of Wagner but even from my limited reading, Deryck Cooke seems to be a worthy and reliable authority. He is troubled by this paradox. He considers whether the leitmotiv may have been wrongly labelled initially by Hans von Wolzogen in 1878 but felt not.

Cooke somewhat uncomfortably justifies it on the basis that Siegmund is not only taking the sword to win Sieglinde but also in subliminal recognition (by the audience if not him) that this is the sword that will win back the gold that Alberich stole by Renunciation of Love.

Larry Solomon in 2002 thought this too remote and convoluted to be appreciated by the audience. Wagner tried to convey multi faceted and subtle ideas but intended the audience to appreciate them on the night and not after completing a PhD. So I see his thinking. However, I don’t think I have a problem in the audience being reminded what the sword stands for, by reference to the leitmotiv. It underscores that Alberich’s action in Das Rhinegold and power versus love, is at the centre of everything.

Solomon instead felt that because of biblical and other references to a flaming sword representing sacrifice, he thought the motive was about sacrifice not renunciation.  In that context Alberich is sacrificing love and Siegmund is sacrificing himself in the duel for the sake of Sieglinde. No doubt Alberich sacrificed love (not sex, no sir) but Siegmund? This raises a number of issues in my mind;

  1. the sword is not flaming. Siegmund refers to a burning in his breast but this seems to be his passionate longing, not the sword.
  2. Siegmund does not know at this point he will be sacrificed. Of course the orchestra may be signalling that he will be in due course but do we need to know this at this stage? I don’t see why we would. But I do think we need to look back to resonate with the broader task of recovering the gold, stolen by Alberich by renouncing love (Cooke’s point).

Because, up to that moment, give or take, the story of Die Valkyrie Act 1, has no connection with the events of Das Rhinegold; it seems like a whole different story. One is all gods and power, the next humans and love. Maybe some reference to Walse resonates to Wotan but not on the scale of the striking Renunciation of Love theme. This motive makes that most vital of connections between first and second operas. To paraphrase The Dude, that rug really tied the room together.

If you have been, thanks.

Man U, cup, excited.

Donner the Hammer


© 2016