May 04, 2021

Valhalla in photos: a journey through Twilight: Gods

Lyric Opera of Chicago's sold-out run of Twilight: Gods — a radical reimagining of Wagner's Götterdämmerung in Millennium Lakeside Parking Garage — was described by critics as "unexpected and other-worldly" (Chicago Sun-Times) and as "a theatrical triumph that could hold its own in any era" (Musical America). The film version of the production comes out this summer free to all audiences, so before you buckle in for your virtual journey to Valhalla, learn more about the production by director Yuval Sharon through these photos:

Twilight: Gods opens with a prologue video featuring Chicago interdisciplinary artist avery r. young in the role of the three Norns. Through a mix of poetry and song, he tells the story of the ring thus far, setting the stage for what audiences are about to experience.

In the first scene, Waltraute (Catherine Martin) desperately pleads with her sister Brünnhilde to give the cursed ring back to the Rhine to save their ailing, frail father, Wotan (Henson Keys). Cellist Calum Cook performs a haunting solo accompaniment. 

While Brünnhilde refuses to give up the ring out of love for Siegfried, Alberich (Donnie Ray Albert, l.) urges his son Hagen (Morris Robinson, r.) to kill Siegfried and acquire the ring. Bass clarinetist Linda A. Baker (pictured), keyboardist Eric Weimer (also music supervisor for the production), and electric bass player Ian Hallas accompany the singers.

The Rhinemaidens (Maria Novella Malfatti, Katherine Beck, and Kathleen Felty, from l. to r.) urge Siegfried to make Brünnhilde give back the ring, warning him that he is in danger. A small ensemble of Lyric Opera Orchestra musicians (Yin Shen, violin; Jon Boen, horn; Doug Waddell, vibraphone; Eric Millstein, marimba; and Lauren Hayes, harp), led by William C. Billingham, who also served as music supervisor, accompany the singers.

 

Siegfried (Sean Panikkar), blinded by his love for Brünnhilde, refuses to ask her to return the ring shortly before being killed by Hagen.

Twilight: Gods audiences then follow Siegfried's hearse in a funeral procession with 2,800 candles and Joffrey Academy dancers illuminating the way. Pre-recorded music arranged by sound artist Lewis Pesacov streamed through car radios during travel between scenes.

avery r. young delivers Siegfried's eulogy in a powerful spoken-word narration.

Heartbroken and devastated, Brünnhilde (Christine Goerke) laments Siegfried's death and mounts her winged horse, Grane — in this case a vintage red 1965 Mustang convertible — to ride into her lover's funeral pyre to cleanse the ring, bringing about the destruction of the gods and the beginning of a new world. 

An ensemble of Lyric Opera Orchestra musicians (Robert Hanford, violin; Melissa Kirk, viola; Mark Brandfonbrener, cello; Ian Hallas, bass; Mimi Tachouet, flute; Sue Warner, clarinet; Bill Denton, trumpet; Jeremy Moeller, trombone; and Chris Reynolds, keyboard) perform a modified score for this Immolation Scene. Ed Windels created musical arrangements and orchestrations for all the live music in Twilight: Gods.

As audiences drive out of the parking garage, avery r. young's voice rings out in the car radios during the striking epilogue: "As for Siegfried, / still coffin-clean / coffin / clean. / And Brünnhilde... / her doin her ministry / all boss gang / on a mustang / high note / amongs(t) de cinder!"

To learn more about how to watch the Twilight: Gods film this summer, visit www.lyricopera.org/twilightgods

Header photo: Approaching the final scene of Twilight: Gods in the Millennium Lakeside Parking Garage; Credit: Kyle Flubacker

Other photos: Kyle Flubacker