Richard Wagner’s The Valkyrie was staged in the United Arab Emirates for the very first time. The performance was part of the Abu Dhabi Classics season, an initiative that brings international musical talent to the emirates.
One of the 19th-century German composer’s most popular works, the opera tells the story of angered gods and defiant Valkyrie maidens, based on a Norse mythological tale where twins separated as children, meet as adults and fall in love.
Since the 1870’s, the piece has been staged at the Bayreuth Festival, it’s permanent home in Germany. The annual musical gathering is heralded for its world-class, star studded performances of Wagner’s operas and tickets have waiting lists of up to ten years.
The performance in the capital’s Emirates Palace added a multi-media spin to the traditional version with a feature length film accompanying the orchestra.
German conductor Markus Poschner was charged with leading the musicians in Abu Dhabi. He says it was Wagner’s unique ‘musical language’, heavily detailed set and costume designs which saw him set new benchmarks for his genre into and beyond the 20th century.
“I think all the composers you can mention - Brahms, Büchner and Strauss - they couldn't exist without Wagner,” he told Euronews. “Fifty or sixty years before Beethoven, he made revolutionary music.”
Poschner went on to highlight how Wagner’s piece, which lasts up to five hours, also involves a far more detailed style of storytelling than many other operas.
Katharina Wagner, the maestro’s great granddaughter, spearheaded the direction of the Abu Dhabi show.
“It's dramatic, it’s emotional and although you can’t characterise music by science, the most important thing is that music is touching your emotion and that Wagner does,” she told Euronews ahead of the performance.
Her orchestra is made up of musicians originating from different parts of Europe. According to Wagner, the cultural exchange within the ensemble, as well as with the local Emiratis, is to everyone’s mutual benefit.
“I’m always happy to exchange all cultures, so I think it was a very good opportunity to show the German culture here,” she said, “And I'm glad to see some of the culture here.”
With regards to whether being the descendent of such an iconic composer persuaded her to pursue a musical career, the co-director of the Bayreuth Festival says that being raised in a musical household certainly helped.
“I’m so used to [music], that I just know it very well,” she’s said.
“We are only specialised in Wagner and, of course, we try to develop every time a new interpretation of Wagner's works,” she added “So that's the way we work, we try to make a good and interesting interpretation every time we perform it.”
THE VALKYRIE FANS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE
Irina from Russia attended The Valkyrie in Abu Dhabi saying that it was a “fantastic, ageless music and libretto that will always inspire.”