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Hans Sachs - because of his humanity he exhibits as well as the personal growth of his character throughout the opera and reflected in the microcosm of the Wahn monologue. The most sympathetic character in Wagner for me.

Loge also gets a vote for importance beyond superficial appearances - he is certainly not a well-developed character in the narrative but central to the entire Ring plot behind the scenes.
Loge is the intellectual in the Ring. He's completely cerebral, uninfluenced by any emotion except amusement. That makes him refreshing in a Wagnerian cosmos, although someone like that in real life might be diagnosed a sociopath.
 

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Loge is not an interesting character IMO because he has no skin in any of the games of the "Ring" (and this is a rather implausible stance within the world of these operas). This seems more evidence that he isn't really a god but, like Erda, more an elemental spirit. (The similarly elemental Rhinemaidens do have skin in the game because their gold got stolen.) He doesn't seem to care for anything, he seems unaffected by the weakening due to lack of Freya's apples etc. Consequently, he fades to merely instrumental flickering in the magic fire music, two operas before the other gods fade. When water and fire consume Valhalla and the gods at the end, I wouldn't see this as "Loge having won" but as further indication of disenchantment, from now on water is water and fire is just fire, not Loge.
 

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Loge is not an interesting character IMO because he has no skin in any of the games of the "Ring" (and this is a rather implausible stance within the world of these operas). This seems more evidence that he isn't really a god but, like Erda, more an elemental spirit. (The similarly elemental Rhinemaidens do have skin in the game because their gold got stolen.) He doesn't seem to care for anything, he seems unaffected by the weakening due to lack of Freya's apples etc. Consequently, he fades to merely instrumental flickering in the magic fire music, two operas before the other gods fade. When water and fire consume Valhalla and the gods at the end, I wouldn't see this as "Loge having won" but as further indication of disenchantment, from now on water is water and fire is just fire, not Loge.
I agree with some of what you wrote and disagree with other parts. You bring up Erda, which is a really interesting case; she and the Norns (which are little more than an extension of Erda herself) are the only actual deity-like beings in the Ring; Wotan is basically a human with a spear and some golden apples. Also, Floßhilde mentions a "father": "Vater warnte vor solchem Feind" / "Father warned us of such a foe"; this father doesn't seem to be Wotan, since he has only peripherally heard of the Rheinmaidens or their gold, so this father figure might be a counterpart to Erda. He isn't really a god, but that's because we know he is only half immortal. (Alberich mentions Loge was once his friend; I don't think it's mentioned explicitly in the libretto if Loge is half Nibelung or what exactly his ancestry is). This makes him, if anything, farther from being Erda-like, in my view; he's less of a god than the gods, and even they are really not all that god-like.

But Loge doesn't vanish at the end. His music appears in Siegfried, for example at "fühltest du nie im finstren Wald?" Also his music is (for obvious reasons) important for the ending of Siegfried, starting from the Siegfried/Wanderer confrontation and the orchestral interlude which follows. He's mentioned by name in the Norn scene, and we find out that he had openly defied Wotan between Das Rheingold and Die Walküre by turning into fire and threatening Wotan's spear. At the end of Götterdämmerung, we hear his music again as Brünnhilde picks up a torch at "Fliegt heim, ihr Raben," and she explicitly bids Wotan's ravens to send Loge back to Valhalla. As she finishes her monologue and sets the pyre aflame, we hear Loge's music again. Presumably, when Loge does return to Valhalla, he (being the demigod of fire as well as of wit) is the force behind its conflagration, having made up his mind as to whether he will burn the place down as he pondered doing at the end of Das Rheingold. This is the "Loge having won" proposition you mentioned in your post. In the source mythology, Loge/Loki is quite a different character, but he does end up waging war on the gods in the end. But even leaving that aside, I think that Wagner leaves enough evidence to suggest that Loge is an important character for the entire cycle.
 

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As I said, I think Loge becomes just a symbol for fire already at the end of Walküre and eventually mundane fire in the world after the gods. He obviously does not belong to the Valhallian gods as is clear from his famous quote at the end of Rheingold when the other gods enter Valhalla "Ihrem Ende eilen sie zu, die so stark im Bestehen sich wähnen" (this should be printed out and tacked on the walls of any president's or CEO's office...) If Loge wins, than not as a character in the play but as a force of nature. Although one point of the end does seem to be that this is not a restoration of the primeval world dominated by elementary forces (instead of nibelungs, gods, giants) but the world of men and in my view this comes along with a disenchantment of these elemental forces.
I agree that there is a hint of a "Rhinefather" (interestingly in German there is the phrase "Vater Rhein" as old fashioned honorific for the country's most important river) who might be the first water elemental in analogy to Erda and Loge.
 

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Rheingold seems to me a caricature on capitalism, even without Patrice Chereau's production. Three rich heiresses (old money) **** off they fortune. A group of rascals struggles for it among themselves. There are high burgoisie mixed with aristocracy headed by an alpha-male with spear and their inimical neighbors, skilled in building. There is bourgeoisie of lower social strata, but even more aggressive and unscrupulous, their primary business was metall industry. He layed hold of the gold even without marital gambling. At last, a lawyer - busyness executive - broker, whatever you like, who helped first group and wasn't destroyed in the act. Fire is his advertising identity. Did Ayn Rand like Wagner?
Following operas are rather psychoanalytic than evidently sociological. But this theme appears again in Götterdämmerung.
 

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Rheingold seems to me a caricature on capitalism, even without Patrice Chereau's production. Three rich heiresses (old money) **** off they fortune. A group of rascals struggles for it among themselves. There are high burgoisie mixed with aristocracy headed by an alpha-male with spear and their inimical neighbors, skilled in building. There is bourgeoisie of lower social strata, but even more aggressive and unscrupulous, their primary business was metall industry. He layed hold of the gold even without marital gambling. At last, a lawyer - busyness executive - broker, whatever you like, who helped first group and wasn't destroyed in the act. Fire is his advertising identity. Did Ayn Rand like Wagner?
Following operas are rather psychoanalytic than evidently sociological. But this theme appears again in Götterdämmerung.
I hope I haven't offended anyone.
Far from it! Sounds like you would agree with George Bernard Shaw: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Perfect_Wagnerite
 

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Wotan is such a complex and enigmatic character . In Das Rheingold he seems to be totally amoral , like Loge . But in Die Walkure, he seems more human , vulnerable and tragic . You feel his grief at having to. strip Brunnhilde of her godhood and leaving her on a rock surrounded by fire . In Siegfried Wotan seems. to have. become more detached and. he. calmly accepts his inevitable loss of power and. resigns himself to his ultimate fate which will take place in Gotterdammerung .
 

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Wotan and Hans Sachs have always been my favorites and both are filled with complexities that I think certainly put them in the most interesting category. I do love Rheingold Alberich (don't know him so well in the other operas), particularly when its Gustav Neidlinger....Eric Owens didn't get me so much....and I think Alberich's lack of roundedness does not, for me, make him one dimenional. He feels to me like a magnificent embodiment of a member of a put down group, whose expressions come from the same place and are so virulent because of the way he has been treated.
 
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