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    The “Ring” is wrapped all the steeper // “Valkyrie” by Dmitry Chernyakov

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    On the stage of the Berlin State Opera continues the premiere of Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen directed by Dmitry Chernyakov. Gulara Sadykh-zade tells about the second opera of the cycle, “Valkyries”.

    – the problem of free will and choice and the determinism of actions and fate associated with it. To what extent can a person be free to control his own destiny? In what way does he depend on the will of higher powers, be it the laws of nature, fate, the will of the gods or the dictates of the state? How wide is the corridor of probabilities in which the manifestation of a person as a free and independent person is possible?

    This question turns, in particular, into an unambiguous dilemma: either power or love. At one time, the Nibelung Alberich managed to steal gold and forge a ring of omnipotence from it only because he refused love. God Wotan cherishes the hope that his son Sigmund, born of an earthly woman, will be able to save the world from destruction by returning gold to the daughters of the Rhine. Wotan himself passed the first fork when the course of events was still reversible: he did not return the gold to the mermaids, but preferred to pay with a fatal ring for the Valhalla built by the giants. In the second part of the tetralogy, the second fork was passed: Sigmund, whom his father prepared for the feat – killing the dragon and obtaining the coveted ring – did not fulfill his destiny. The wife of Wotan Frick intervened and demanded the death of the hero.

    Wotan reluctantly agrees; the decision to abandon his son is given to him so hard that after this betrayal, Wotan himself is reborn, finally turning into a tired reflective pessimist, resigned to the inevitable. He cancels the order once given to Brunnhilde, his beloved Valkyrie daughter, to give victory in a duel to his son. Conflicts between a father and a loving daughter, a husband and a quarrelsome wife, the suddenly blossoming love of the twins Sigmund and Sieglinde, separated in childhood and finding each other again, love is forbidden, tragic, painfully sweet – such is the content of the Valkyrie, the most lyrical part of the Wagner cycle.

    Chernyakov singles out the main thing from history – human relationships – and builds a performance on them. It turns out touching, vital and psychologically accurate: the reactions of the characters, the motivation of their actions, even their gestures. For example, Vida Miknevichute, a stunning Sieglinde with a bright, flexible soprano of incredible strength and stability, tells Sigmund the story of how the Votan sword appeared in her house, comments on each point with expressive pantomime: how a wanderer appeared in the house, how his fields hung over his blind eye wide-brimmed hat, as he plunged his sword into the trunk of an ash tree. You really sympathize with the heroes of Chernyakov’s Valkyrie, invented in detail: the fragile, vulnerable Sieglinde, who falls from her feet from fatigue and horror, the clumsy Sigmund (Robert Watson), the suffering Wotan (Michael Volle), Brunhilde (Anya Kampe) rejected by him. Hunding (Mika Kares) – Sieglinde’s rude, unloved and unloving husband – does not know at all what love and affection are, but what to take from a martinet policeman, whose life is determined by the notorious German Ordnung.

    His antipode Sigmund is the embodiment of anarchy, rebellion, spontaneous manifestation of feelings. In the director’s version of Chernyakov, he is a criminal on the run from prosecution, behind whom is murder and prison. We learn about this from the criminal chronicle, the lines of which we see at the beginning, in the first bars of the introduction, when the famous disturbing tremolo sounds, against which the theme of the chase develops with an intermittent rhythm – this is how a mortally tired, driven man suffocates. Behind the conductor’s stand was Christian Thielemann, musical director of the production; the orchestra sounded soft, meaningful and accurate on the second evening, even if sometimes there were some rough edges.

    with the difference that the study of the capabilities of the human brain and experiments to breed a new breed of people have moved to a qualitatively new level. Sigmund is much more independent in his actions than Alberich – the slave of the “helmet of desires”. He has, though limited, but freedom of choice, the freedom to love and run, the courage and will to refuse Brunnhilde’s tempting offer to feast forever among the heroes in the hall of Valhalla. Looks like Wotan got a new man. And he is extremely happy about success, spying on his children, the Velzungs, through a hidden mirror screen.

    “Psychologically unstable” – says a line from Sigmund’s prison personal file. Yes, Sigmund is unstable; he was lost in the world, having lost his father, mother and sister, seeing the house burned by enemies. He is even deprived of a name, and this namelessness makes him flawed.

    Sigmund tumbles into someone else’s house – a clean, comfortable modern apartment where the golden-haired Sieglinde lives. A lawless comet breaks into the sterile burgher world and unexpectedly finds shelter and affection in it. “I will call you Sigmund,” the twin sister tells him. With the acquisition of the name, Sigmund restores himself as a whole person, as a hero and lover. Both experience the ecstasy of a sudden surging feeling – and run, convulsively leaving things in a travel bag. But not on a spring night and not through a blossoming forest: they rapidly descend through the floors of the research complex until they reach the basement, where the denouement takes place, the duel of Hunding and Sigmund.

    We do not we see – we only hear voices behind the scenes. We do not see the appearance of Wotan, who deprived the sword of Notung of magical power and became the herald of death for Sigmund. Take out of brackets, beyond the limits of visual perception, the key moments of the action – Chernyakov’s signature technique, memorable from the old “Tristan” (2005) of the Mariinsky Theater. moments seem to be thrown to the forefront, into emptiness and blackness, where there are no coordinates of time-space, landmarks of top and bottom. At such moments, the mythological emerges through the profane, and the linearity of the narrative gives way to the eternally lasting “here and now”. And this flickering of eternity through the twists and turns of the plot corresponds so closely to Wagner’s sense and understanding of the myth that it becomes a little uneasy.

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