Friday, June 24, 2011

#175 / The Ring Recapitulated

The San Francisco Opera has just completed a performance of the entire Ring Cycle, by Richard Wagner. Another performance of all four operas is underway now, and tickets are available for a third Ring Cycle, starting on June 28th. The current production got a rather good review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

While the Ring Cycle is presented as a story of the gods, ending with Gotterdammerung, the "Twilight of the Gods," the San Francisco Opera production makes clear, with its contemporary references, that this is a story of how humans have treated the world. Our willingness to savage nature for wealth and power leads to the degradation of the natural environment, on which we all depend. Restoration of the natural order occurs only when our monuments to power are burned to the ground, and when we renounce the mechanisms (the golden ring) by which we attempt to subjugate nature to achieve human ends.

In the Ring Cycle, the flawed and fallible gods ultimately get it right. Would that we might do the same.

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