Richard Wagner’s magnum opus, the Ring Tetralogy, occupied, tortured and inspired him for all of 26 years: between the first draft in revolution year 1848 of a drama about Siegfried titled Siegfrieds Tod and completion of the Götterdämmerung score in 1874 lay a quarter of a century – albeit with lengthy interruptions in the work. Strangely, then, Wagner began his telling of the Nibelung saga at the end, expanding it as more and more background became necessary until the Rheingold was written. Considering this protracted, meandering composition history it is no wonder that jumps, breaks and gaps appear in the intricately woven plot that leave plenty of room for interpretation. The Ring is a drama of worlds, a story of humanity and a criticism of capitalism; it tells of hunger for power and abuse of power, of greed for money, a delight in destruction, the eternal cycle of violence and not least of a family tragedy played out over three generations.
The Ring Trilogy, which was developed especially for the Theater an der Wien, explores the question of how the actions and guilt of the grandfathers’ generation – Wotan and Alberich – influence the lives of the following generations at both a political and a private level; how the younger family members fail to escape from the consequences of these deeds despite desperate efforts to resist them; and how they are sucked further in the more they try to fight. Consequently, this version of the Ring dares to try something entirely new: In order to tell the story of the Ring from the perspective of the younger protagonists with the spotlight on Hagen, Siegfried and Brünnhilde, several scenes were cut and other parts rearranged. As in Wagner’s original work, each evening begins with the final catastrophe, the killing of Siegfried, before moving on to focus on the memories of the various characters.