Ring Wrangling

Sex, war, and pointy helmets: a guide to the San Francisco Opera's Ring cycle, the only thing Bugs Bunny, Adolf Hitler, and Francis Ford Coppola ever agreed on

WHAT IT'S ABOUT
Alberich steals the Rhinegold from the Rhinemaidens and out of it forges a magical ring to rule the world. Wotan engages Fafner and Fasolt to build Valhalla; unable to pay for it, he first offers them Freia in exchange, but then realizes the gods need her magic apples to stay eternally young. So he steals the ring and the gold from Alberich, who curses the ring. Wotan tries to keep the ring for himself, but the giants demand it. Fafner quarrels with Fasolt, kills him, and takes the gold, the ring, and Wotan's magic helmet. The gods enter Valhalla to the cries of the Rhinemaidens.

WHAT IT'S REALLY ABOUT
A dwarf with a Napoleonic complex tries his hand at metalsmithing and throws the gods into a tizzy.

MORAL LESSON
Giants don't take American Express.

DETAILS
Title: Die WalkYre
Translation: "The Valkyrie"
Length: 4 hours, 45 minutes

Cast: Jane Eaglen/Francis Ginzer (BrYnnhilde); Deborah Voigt (Sieglinde); Marjana Lipovsek/Elena Zaremba (Fricka); Mark Baker/Wolfgang Schmidt (Siegmund); James Morris/Alan Held (Wotan); Reinhard Hager (Hunding); Donald Runnicles/Michael Boder (Conductor)

Place: War Memorial Opera House
Dates: June 10, 19, 23, 27

KEY PLAYERS
Wotan: Still ruler.
Fricka: Still his wife.
Sieglinde and Siegmund: Wotan's mortal children, twins, separated at birth.
Hunding: An evil hunter whom Sieglinde was forced to marry.
Brunnhilde: Wotan's favorite daughter, a Valkyrie.

Valkyries: Wotan's nine warrior-goddess daughters. They carry the bodies of fallen heroes to Valhalla, the palace of the gods, where the dead warriors are revived to help defend the castle. Also known for their stylish taste in armor.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT
Siegmund and Sieglinde meet and fall in love, unaware that they are brother and sister. Hunding, with Wotan's help, kills Siegmund -- but only after Sieglinde has conceived his child. BrYnnhilde, who tried to protect Siegmund, helps Sieglinde escape to safety. Wotan punishes her by leaving her to sleep in a ring of fire until a hero rescues her.

WHAT IT'S REALLY ABOUT
Brother and sister have sex, fuck up family life.

MORAL LESSON
Know the last name of the person you're sleeping with -- it could be your own.

DETAILS
Title: Siegfried
Translation: "Siegfried"
Length: 4 hours, 50 minutes

Cast: Jane Eaglen/Frances Ginzer (BrYnnhilde); Elena Zaremba (Erda); Wolfgang Schmidt/George Gray (Siegfried); James Morris/Alan Held (Wotan/Wanderer); Gary Rideout (Mime); Tom Fox/Peter Sidhom (Alberich); Eric Halfvarson (Fafner); Donald Runnicles/Michael Boder (Conductor)

Place: War Memorial Opera House
Dates: June 13, 22, 26, 30

KEY PLAYERS
Siegfried: Sieglinde and Siegmund's bastard incestuous child, bound for greatness, glory, and grief.

Brunnhilde: Armor-clad banished babe from Die WalkYre. Also Siegfried's aunt.

Mime: Same evil dwarf from Das Rheingold, now raising Siegfried.
Wotan: Hangin' on Earth, disguised as a wanderer.
Fafner: Giant and current keeper of the ring, who's decided it looks more fetching on a dragon's claw than on a really big finger.

Erda: Earth-goddess-cum-therapist, now an ear for Wotan's woes.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT
After Sieglinde's death, the young Siegfried is reared by Mime, who tries in vain to claim the ring. Wotan, disguised as a wanderer, warns Mime of a fearless hero, who turns out to be Siegfried. Siegfried steals the ring from Fafner, who's taken the form of a dragon, and kills him. When Siegfried learns that Mime plans to kill him for the ring, he kills Mime, and, after battling Wotan, rescues Brunnhilde and claims her as his bride.

WHAT IT'S REALLY ABOUT
A man kills his greedy foster parent, beats up his grandpa, and shacks up with his aunt.

MORAL LESSON
Never trust an evil dwarf farther than you can throw him.

DETAILS
Title: Gstterdammerung
Translation: "The Twilight of the Gods"
Length: 5 hours, 25 minutes

Cast: Jane Eaglen/Frances Ginzer (BrYnnhilde); Kristine Ciesinski (Gutrune); Marjana Lipovsek/Elizabeth Bishop (Waltraute); Wolfgang Schmidt/George Gray (Siegfried); Alan Held/David Okerlund (Gunther); Eric Halfvarson (Hagen); Tom Fos/Peter Sidhom (Alberich); Donald Runnicles/Michael Boder (Conductor)

Place: War Memorial Opera House
Dates: June 16, 24, 29, July 3

KEY PLAYERS
Brunnhilde: Back with a vengeance and married to her nephew.
Siegfried: Boy on the move.
Hagen: Alberich's son; a chip off the old dwarf.

Gunther and Gutrune: Hagen's half-brother and half-sister, respectively; also housemates (wink, wink).

Waltraute: Brunnhilde's sister, a Valkyrie with a good head on her armored shoulders.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT
Siegfried goes in search of adventure, leaving Brunnhilde behind with the ring. Hagen and Gunther plan to steal Brunnhilde and obtain the ring for themselves. They drug Siegfried and make him betray Brunnhilde, who, in a wild rage, plots with Hagen to kill Siegfried. Hagen kills Siegfried, and then Gunther, in a struggle for the ring. BrYnnhilde places the ring on her own finger and plunges into Siegfried's funeral pyre. Valhalla goes up in flames, the gods meet their fates, and a new era begins.

WHAT IT'S REALLY ABOUT
A boy leaves his "special" aunt to go on a testosterone joy-ride and forgets about her in a destructive drugfest, which ultimately leads to their murder-suicide.

MORAL LESSON
If the ring fits, throw it away.

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