Budapest Wagner Days 2020
Artistic Director and Conductor: Ádám Fischer
Every year, this long-established series of events attracts Wagner fans from around the globe to Budapest. 2020 would not be complete again without the Ring cycle. Hartmut Schörghofer’s highly successful adaptation makes a comeback after being updated in 2019 with new choreography, redesigned stage movements, completely new background footage projected onto the stage props and with a new dramaturg joining the creative team. Even more exciting is the fact that the casts of the four evenings feature world-class singers not yet heard in these operas, while the loyal audience of the Ring will surely meet some old-time favourites, too. Just to mention a few names, we will have Johan Reuter, Zsolt Haja, Schöck Atala, Stefan Vinke, Gerhard Siegel, Walter Fink, and Irene Theorin. The great encore of the festival will include Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Waltraud Meier’s recital.
- Wagner: Das Rheingold - 18 June 2020
- Wagner: Die Walküre - 19 June 2020
- Wagner: Siegfried - 20 June 2020
- Wagner: Götterdämmerung - 21 June 2020
- Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - 16 June 2020
When you purchase this season ticket in person or pick it up after ordering online, you can also choose to purchase ticket to a performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, with 20% discount:
On Earth. The light-hearted play of the Rhine-maidens is interrupted by the Nibelung Alberich. Instead of joining in their frivolous games, he steals the gold that they are guarding. In doing so, he renounces love.
The Kingdom of the Gods. In order to maintain peace with his wife Fricka, Wotan has enlisted the giants Fafner and Fasolt to build a fortress for her. In return, he has promised them Freia, Fricka’s sister. As guardian of agreements and promises, Wotan must remain true to his word. Loge, the demigod of fire, suggests a compromise: Alberich is said to have forged a powerful ring out of the Rhine gold. Loge and Wotan travel down to Nibelheim, the world of the Nibelungs to retrieve the treasure, whilst the giants keep Freia hostage. Without Freia, and her golden apples, the gods’ power quickly diminishes.
The Underworld. Alberich uses his Ring and the “Tarnhelm” (a magical helmet which makes those who wear it invisible) to torment the other Nibelungs, especially his brother Mime. Using his cunning, Loge manages to steal the gold, the Tarnhelm and the ring from Alberich. Alberich places a powerful curse on the bearer of the Ring.
The World of the Gods. Freia is released. Erda, the Earth goddess, warns Wotan not to keep the ring. Wotan realises that the world of the Gods would go under if he were to keep it and so he hands the ring to the giants. And the curse of the ring starts working immediately: Fafner slays his brother Fasolt. The Gods retreat into their fortress, Valhalla. Two ravens, who inform Wotan of what is happening in the world, are his companions. Loge laughs at the imminent downfall of the Gods. The Rhinemaidens are left behind, mourning the loss of the gold.
On Earth. Siegmund, the Wälsung, mortal son of Wotan, finds shelter in the house of his enemy, Hunding. The following day he is challenged to a duel and he has no weapon. Siegmund recognises Hunding’s wife Sieglinde as his sister. They fall madly in love. She gives him Notung, a powerful and invincible sword. Brother and sister flee together. Wotan’s scheme, to save the world through a hero who does not know fear, seems to be working.
Between Earth and the Heavens. Fricka, guardian of marriages, forces Wotan to sacrifice the lives of the two adulterers. He must command his daughter Brünnhilde to release Siegmund from her protection. When Siegmund refuses to follow his fate and accompany Brünnhilde to Valhalla, she ignores her father’s command. Wotan destroys the sword Notung. Hunding slays the unarmed Siegmund and is killed by Wotan. Brünnhilde flees with Sieglinde, who is carrying a child.
Between Earth and the Heavens. The Valkyries are the nine daughters of Wotan and Erda. They travel through the world, bringing fallen heroes to Valhalla. They are Wotan’s secret army in his fight against the power-hungry Alberich. Instead of arriving with Siegmund, as the Valkyries expected, Brünnhilde arrives with the pregnant Sieglinde, closely followed by Wotan. Sieglinde is taken to safety. Wotan directs his wrath at Brünnhilde; the daughter who obeyed his secret order. He strips her of her immortality, and turns her into a helpless woman. Wotan then surrounds her with Loge’s fire, where she will remain asleep, until a hero arrives; a hero capable of waking her and winning her heart. The hero, who does not know fear.
On Earth. The blacksmith Mime has raised the orphaned Siegfried, son of the Wälsung siblings Siegmund and Sieglinde. The Nibelung also harbours the broken pieces of the sword Notung. Yet he did not raise the orphan out of a sense of duty and kindness: Both Siegfried, the young hero who knows no fear, and the sword Notung are a means for Mime to seize the ring that is now being guarded by Fafner and to gain world domination. A wanderer – we recognise him to be Wotan – stirs the Nibelung’s greed, and challenges him to a battle of wits, in which Mime forfeits his head. Siegfried, tired of his foster father, wields the sword himself. Mime arms himself with a poisonous potion.
In a different place. Fafner, transformed into a dragon, guards the treasure, the ring and the Tarnhelm, the magical helmet. He is observed closely by Alberich, who is wanting to reclaim his treasure. The Wanderer is also there; having renounced power he is now seemingly impassively observing world events as they unfold. Mime leads Siegfried to Fafner’s cavern, and Siegfried easily slays the dragon. Fafner’s blood causes Siegfried to understand a Wood Bird, and following its advice, he takes the ring and Tarnhelm for himself. Alberich is left empty-handed. Siegfried also now understands Mime’s betrayal and slays the dwarf. The Wood Bird shows Siegfried the way to the source of his – as yet undefined – longing: to a woman, Brünnhilde.
Between Earth and the Heavens. One last time, the Wanderer turns to the ancient Mother Erda for advice. However, her knowledge fails her in the light of the imminent end of the world. The Wanderer now hears of the power of the fearless and lawless hero Siegfried. The latter is on his way to the banished Brünnhilde, against the wishes of the once so powerful God Wotan. Siegfried releases Brünnhilde from her spell, and comes to feel two things: fear and love.
Between Earth and the Heavens. The Norns, Erda’s daughters, are no longer able to predict the future. The World Tree has been chopped to timber, awaiting the Great Fire. The ropes of destiny have become irreversibly intertwined.
On Earth. Brünnhilde bids leave to Siegfried, who is on his way to new heroic adventures. He finds himself in the company of the Gibichungs at the Rhine, the siblings Gunther and Gutrune, and their half brother Hagen, son of Alberich and their mother Grimhild. Hagen is Alberich’s tool in getting at Siegfried’s ring. However the ring remained with Brünnhilde as a token of Siegfried’s fidelity. So Hagen develops a plan: Siegfried is to drink a potion that makes him forget everything, then rob Brünnhilde for Gunther. As a reward, Gutrune shall become Siegfried’s wife. Meanwhile, the Valkyrie Waltraute tries in vain to convince Brünnhilde to return the cursed ring to the Rhine maidens, and thus to prevent disaster. The robbery and betrayal of Brünnhilde all happen according to Hagen’s plan.
On Earth. Alberich demands that his son Hagen swear allegiance to him. Hagen fuels hate and suspicion in Gunther against the triumphant Siegfried. The betrayed Brünnhilde also seeks revenge. The unknowing hero is wed to Gutrune.
In different places. Siegfried is taken on the Gibichung’s hunting trip in a ploy to kill him. The Rhine-maidens beg Siegfried to return the ring, but he laughs them off. In the company of the men, his memory slowly returns. Hagen quickly slays Siegfried. Brünnhilde realises the extent of the treacherous plot, and fulfils her final obligations to him: Siegfried’s body is burnt in the first flames of the World Fire. Then Brünnhilde too gives herself up to the fire, which destroys the world of mortals and gods alike.
The Rhine rises over its banks and the cursed gold is returned to its original place.
It is in the church where Walther sees Eva for the first time, learning that she was to marry the winner of next day’s song contest. Walther asks one of the apprentices for advice on how to win the contest. During the guild meeting to qualify as mastersinger, however, he fails with his heartfelt, but unconventional song. One of the old masters puts everything right during the night: he doesn’t allow the young couple to elude and the old suitor to serenade. Next morning he helps Walther write his song for the competition and gives the manuscript to the old suitor, who fails the competition, because he cannot fit the words properly to the melody. Only Walther can perform the song, winning the competition and Eva’s hand in marriage. The people join them in singing the praises of the wise and just master.