Anticipating my 17th Ring Cycle

Once More to the River

Tomorrow I drive down to Washington to attend the Ring.  It will be my 17th.  My first, at age 25, was the Goodall English-language production at the Coliseum in London, in December 1975, just after I graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

I find myself as excited to hear that E-flat as I ever was.  I feel like Lennie in Of Mice and Men, eagerly pleading, “Tell me the story again, George!  Tell be the story about the rabbits!”  I want to be told the story again, about the love of power and the power of love, about the death of the law in the face of anarchic passion and the impossibility of love in a world of deceit.

I’m attracted by the sense of inevitability in the Ring.  Everyone in it is doomed.  I like that it ends neither happily nor sadly; instead that it sort of just runs out of folks.  Siegfried is dead, Brunnhilde is dead. Wotan and Fricka and Loge are dead.  Fafner and Fasolt have run out their string, and so have Hagen, Gunther, Hundig and Mime.  Alberich and Gutrune have become irrelevant, because the ring is returned and the moral imbalance has been corrected; there’s nothing left for anyone to do, really.  There’s nothing more to say except that damn D-flat theme, promising us what it promised Sieglinde – that there will be life.

So I await the big, big tale, told this time through a distinctly American perspective.  How the natural world was injured, and the World Ash Tree eventually died, by acts of greed and negligence.  How those with power gained it by forsaking compassion.  How those with compassion defeated the powerful by destroying everything — including themselves — in a blaze of defiant humanity.

How that ol’ river just keeps rolling along.

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