Saturday, July 16, 1966. I was 12 years old and had just completed the eighth grade. My mother had given me money to buy a phonograph record. I chose conductor Erich Leinsdorf’s recording of highlights of Wagner’s Ring Cycle opera, Die Walküre, featuring the tenor Jon Vickers as the hero Siegmund.
I ultimately got to see a performance of the opera at the Academy of Music on the evening of Tuesday, December 14, 1976 — again with Jon Vickers as Siegmund. I recall the following morning I chatted about the opera performance with a coworker at The Franklin Institute, Elena S. She said, “. . . and I suppose there was a huge chorus.” I said, “no, this opera doesn’t have any chorus.” I later learned that Elena’s mother loved attending theater and opera.
In Die Walküre, the chief Norse god, Wotan, banishes his favorite daughter, Brünnhilde from Valhalla, the home of the gods, after she disobeys his command not to assist her half-brother, Siegmund in battle. Brünnhilde never speaks to her family again. Die Walküre has been viewed as an allegory that “addresses the dynamics of the dysfunctional family caused by inequality of power and the loss of love.”