The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Good times to be had … ich weiss es

 Good times to be had ... ich weiss es
Good times to be had … ich weiss es

Good times to be had … ich weiss es

This column has been written on behalf of the SMU Literary Festival.

As the sun hung low over the Hillcrest 7-11, something very unusual was brewing to the west. In between the two rows of oak trees on the SMU Boulevard, emerged the dwarf, Alberich, pursuing the playful Rhinemaidens. Yet, instead of catching the nymphs, somewhere in front of the Cox School of Business, this Nibelung falls upon the brilliant Rhinegold- a gold that if melted into a ring would allow the bearer to rule the universe! And so begins a 14 hour epic that at last marries those two great counterparts, the SMU campus and Valhalla.

Wait. Wait. Let’s take a few steps back now, OK. This Saturday, April 26th 2003, right when Umphrey-Lee shuts down for the night (6:30 on Saturdays, you know), the SMU Literary Festival is providing a feast of authentic German Food (bratwursts, sauerkraut, strudels, etc.) completely free. At the same time, and coincidentally the same location, will be a large moonwalk – for once there won’t be one of those annoying guys limiting your time to play on it. After all, it’ll be there all night/morning long. There will also be numerous people in large Viking helmets, complete with horns. Now what’s tying all these things together? Well, for the first time in the history of Dallas and dare I say… North Texas, the entire Ring Cycle opera series by Richard Wagner will be presented (in this case on a large outdoor movie screen) straight through. This series of four operas sums up to a total time of about 14 hours. We, the SMU Literary Festival, dub this free and open event, “The SMU Wagnerthon,” (makes a great date, dinner, post-party and breakfast).

Now – if you’re at all like I was a few weeks ago, having never been to an opera before, and clueless about whatever a Nibelung is, fear not, the Literary Festival is here to help! And so we give you. A Guide to Surviving the SMU Wagnerthon:

First, Wagner is pronounced Vog-ner (everyone makes that mistake, it’s no big deal). Richard Wagner (1813- 1883) is a German composer who is often accused of some unlikable traits, but I wont dwell on his vices, instead I’ll praise his dynamite “music drama.” The Ring Cycle or as it is more formally called, “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” is comprised of four operas telling the epic mythological tale of the all-powerful ring. Even the most intense opera aficionados see only one of the operas an evening. On Saturday, the SMU campus will be given the rare opportunity too see all four operas in one fell swoop!

The Cycle begins with “Das Rheingold” in which the dwarf, Alberich, steals the Rhinegold, the gold that can rule and destroy the universe, from the Rhinemaidens, three saucy mermaids who’s job it is to guard the treasure. Meanwhile, the ruler of the gods and giants, Wotan, is rejoicing over the completion of the gods’ new pad, Valhalla. As payment to his team of construction workers, the giants Fafner and Fasolt, Woton promises the goddess of love and youth, Freia. But like the true ding bat that Woton is, he neglected to remember that with out Freia the gods loose their eternal youth. Woton consults the crafty Loge to sort of the mess about Freia and the capturing of the Rhinegold.

“Die Walkure,” the second opera, has all sorts of twists: murder, incest, rings of fire, romance, and an unforgettable tune known as “The Ride of the Valkyries” (you know, the one from “Apocalypse Now” and Looney Tunes – Kill the Wabbit…). The third opera, “Siegfried,” has all its own charm. It tells the tale of the chauvinist son of the incestuous couple from “Die Walkure,” of course. He beats up dragons, giant, and dwarfs, breaks a very big stick, and falls madly in love with the uber warrior babe (she’d make Xena cry), Brunnhilde. The last opera, “Gotterdammerung” (the favorite of a particular German dictator, but don’t hold it against old Richard Wagner), is the great climax of all of this mayhem. Siegfried forsakes his Brunnhilde while under the power of a potion given to him by a nasty but fine wench Gutrune and her brother Gunther. Eventually, Siegfried is killed and Brunnhilde, wearing the all-powerful ring, rides her horse into his funeral pyre, which causes Valhalla to burn. The burning of Valhalla frees the ring of its curse, leaving only a human world redeemed by LUV… just beautiful.

There are numerous reasons why “Wagnerthon” is not an event to be missed. The Ring production that will be shown is famous and loved by the Wagnerian community, so I hear from an opera buff I know. The DVD recording of this 1979 Patrice Chereau’s production is absolutely killer from the singing to the sets. The Ring Cycle will be projected onto a large screen outside in the lovely spring air, not in a stuffy old opera house in the boondocks of Bavaria. As a final note to help you make the most of this once in a life time experience bring your own blankets, pillows, or sleeping bags, bring games, guitars, have fun and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. See you Saturday, sometime after 7 p.m., on the Boulevard.

Good times to be had … ich weiss es

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