Although the HBO TV series Game of Thrones is partly based on the English Wars of the Roses, there are also many parallels with the Norse mythology that Wagner drew on for The Ring of the Niebelungen. For a start, there’s a lot of sex, especially involving illegitimate children and incest. Siegmund and Sielglinde, who we meet in the second opera (The Valkyrie) are, like Jamie and Cersei Lannister, brother and sister, although they don’t know it. They were both fathered by Wotan in the period after Rheingold – as were Brunhilde and the rest of the Valkyries and a few more besides. Brunhilde and Siegfried (the third opera) are actually aunt and nephew with a twenty year age gap between them.
However, both the Ring and Game of Thrones are ultimately not about sex, but about power. The Ring is the symbol in Wagner – for George R R Martin, author of the books on which GoT is based, it’s the Iron Throne. It’s significant that Drogon (dragons – another thing in common) chooses to destroy the throne after the death of Daenerys rather than Jon Snow who had just killed her. Giants and dwarves as well! And at the end of the Ring (Götterdammerung), the evil dwarf Alberich is the only significant player who still seems to be alive after the fall of Valhalla – as is the not quite so evil Tyrion Lannister after the destruction of Kings Landing at the end of Game of Thrones.
The Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing Richard Wagner’s opera, Das Rheingold, the first part of the Ring Cycle at 3:00 pm on Sunday 13th October 2019 in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. It’s a concert performance with imagery and a synopsis projected on a giant screen.
Tickets can be purchased from the Symphony Hall website or from BPO members.