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date: 16 November 2019


  • Hugh Macdonald


Opéra in four acts and nine tableaux by (Louis-Etienne-)Ernest Reyer to a libretto by Camille Du Locle and Alfred Blau; Brussels, Théâtre de la Monnaie, 7 January 1884.

Blau’s libretto, versified by Du Locle, was based on a French translation of the Nibelungenlied. When Reyer embarked on the opera, probably between 1862 and 1866 (although this remains uncertain), Reyer knew no Wagner later than Lohengrin and was certainly unaware that he was engaged on a vast opera on the same subject. The fact that Sigurd was not performed until 1884, when French Wagnerism was rapidly gaining ground, caused unfortunate comparisons to be made. It is to the opera’s credit that in spite of such overwhelming competition it was remarkably successful. Its Brussels première was followed swiftly by productions in Lyons and Paris, where it remained in the repertory for half a century.

The characters Gunther (baritone), Hagen (bass-baritone), Brunehild (soprano), Sigurd (tenor) and the three Norns (silent roles) are shared with ...

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