Dates

3, 10, 17 and 24 June

Location

Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Online

Running time

15 minutes per episode

Tickets

Free

Soft Valkyrie

Podcast version of Wagner's masterpiece

Wagner's Die Walküre with a twist. That's David Kanaga's Soft Valkyrie. The American composer and game designer presents Wagner's monumental opera in its entirety in an electronic version. The leading roles are performed by singers from widely differing disciplines, including a rapper, a death metal singer and a Wagner legend. None other than Stephen Fry narrates Wagner's very own extensive stage directions. Close your eyes, listen and let your imagination do the rest.

Captivating radio play

Although Kanaga follows Wagner's notes and storyline meticulously, his background in gaming can be heard through the use of electronic instruments and sound effects full of humor, drama and mysticism. The roles are sung by an atypical cast: from classically trained singers like Claron McFadden and Nadine Secunde to demonic Hungarian vocalist Attila Csihar and Ghanaian rapper Bryan the Mensah. The result is intimate and lighter than the original. Soft, in other words. Stephen Fry's reading of Wagner's stage directions renders Die Walküre into a true radio play, so that the entire drama takes place in the listener's imagination. 

Each of the three acts of Die Walküre is divided into several podcast episodes. During the Holland Festival, the four episodes of the first act will be released on: June 3, 10, 17 and 24.

 

The Story

Die Walküre, the second opera of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, tells the story of twins Siegmund and Sieglinde, who become separated at a young age. Years later, Siegmund seeks shelter with his sister, while her husband Hunding is absent. The two do not recognize each other, and feel a deep attraction. Upon his return, Hunding challenges Siegmund to a duel.

Brünnhilde is the daughter of supreme god Wotan, and one of the Valkyries - goddesses who accompany fallen warriors to the afterlife. When Wotan orders her to make sure Siegmund loses the fight because of his incestuous relationship with Sieglinde, she chooses to help Siegmund instead.

Nevertheless, the fight ends with his death. Wotan punishes Brünnhilde for her disobedience by imprisoning her on a mountain, which is surrounded by a ring of fire.

Listen to episode 1, Familiar strangers

By: David Kanaga

Listen to episode 2, The master of the house

By: David Kanaga

Information and credits

New production

Music and libretto  Richard Wagner
Composition, MIDI-arrangements  David Kanaga
English translation  Frederick Jameson
Dramaturgy  Laura Roling

Siegmund  Bryan the Mensah
Sieglinde  Hailey Clark
Hunding  Attila Csihar
Wotan  Mattijs van de Woerd
Fricka  Nadine Secunde
Brünnhilde  Claron McFadden
Walküres
Mercedes Arcuri (Gerhilde, Helmwige)
Clara Nadesdin (Ortlinde, Siegrune)
Weronika Rabek (Waltraute, Grimgerde)
Monika Walerowicz (Rossweisse, Schwertleite)

MIDI Piano, act 1  Marc Evanstein
MIDI Piano, act 2 and 3 Ernst Munneke 

Casting  David Kanaga, Christian Carlstedt

Commissioned and co-produced by  Holland Festival, Dutch National Opera, Staatsoper Hannover

With the support of  NTR Radio 4

Special thanks to  Sound department Staatstheater Hannover, Soho Square Studios London, Jochem Valkenburg

Credits image: © David Kanaga, Jaap Dankert, Muhammad Desta Laksana, Danika Perkinson

 

Listen to the trailer

Soft Valkyrie

Spectacle for the ears

Kanaga uses an English translation of the libretto for Soft Valkyrie. While Wagner approached his operas as a Gesamtkunstwerk, Kanaga has chosen the form of a podcast, a spectacle for the ears.

Spectacle for the ears

In his adaptation, based on the piano reduction of Wagner's score, the extremes of volume are reduced to the level of soft speech. The singers, in part deliberately cast from outside the opera world, use no vibrato, and sing with the clearest possible pronunciation. Wagner's very own stage directions are read aloud as narrative. Actions are suggested by sound effects. The orchestra has given way to a broad spectrum of sounds sampled and composed electronically. In this way, Kanaga creates an intimate dream world in which listeners can immerse themselves.

Maker

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