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The heir

For Norwegian director Stefan Herheim DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN is not a work of the past, but rather one that points toward the future

Stefan Herheim is one of the most important opera directors today. In a poll by the publication “Opernwelt” he was thrice voted "Director of the Year", and has held productions in Bayreuth, Salzburg, London, Amsterdam and Berlin, among others.
Das Rheingold

Since I began preparing for THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG, I have been considering how the end of TWILIGHT OF THE GODS could look. An ending that leaves the question of the future of man, of overcoming the old order, open. As long as we are failing in modern society due to lust for power, exploitation, betrayal and violence, the RING remains an 'artwork of the future'. To find ways toward the future we must begin searching for the prerequisites for being human. This search is reflected in drama itself, as well as in the figure of Richard Wagner. He worked on this piece for over a quarter of a century. The self-actualisation expressed therein also reflects Germans' longing for national identity.

The fabulous attempt at questioning truth, ideology and values with art in such a way that a revolutionary dynamic could form is presumably a uniquely German characteristic, as nowhere else has so much been entrusted to, and expected of, art. It is important to visualise that in a modern context in which only few media are conveying the quieter messages.

"Nowhere other than Germany has so much been entrusted to art."
 

For me, faith in art is existential. It is part of my relatively late German socialisation and also an expression of my fear of not belonging. At the same time, through my Norwegian heritage I have the advantage of being able to separate myself from the more unsettling aspects of 'being German'. This play between distance and closeness is also apparent in my affinity for Wagner's romantic dialectic.

Without the inclusion of its creator, his spiritual-cultural background and the influential consequences of his work to this day, I can hardly imagine being able to realise THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG. Of course the audience doesn't all have to be able to consciously decode these layers. Nor do they need to analytically perceive the difference between C major and F minor. Or understand each word that is being sung. In Wagner's total work of art, comprehensibility is conveyed at many levels. Through the consolidated powers of word, tone and scenic depiction, the dramatic thought takes shape. My job is to find a substantially coherent and emotionally moving form.

 

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