"SIEGFRIED"

By William Markiewicz

I like Wagner's creations; their creator himself -- much less. Apparently, among composers, Ravel and Tchaikowski were also not very likeable, each for different reasons. I believe "Siegfried" is the Opera in which Wagner quite blatantly unveils his psyche. I'm surprised that nobody, as far as I know, has objected to Siegfried's abusive behaviour toward Mime who had raised him from birth, and later, as a helpless dwarf, had to endure Siegfried's might and hatred. All we know from the story is that Siegfried's contempt for Mime is prompted only by a hunch that Mime is evil -- but is this enough to justify such behaviour? No! We learn that Mime was good to Siegfried whose mother, before dying, had entrusted her baby to this total stranger. Whatever the darkness of Mime's soul, whatever his future designs on the adult Siegfried, the Opera "Siegfried" is an ode to Siegfried's heartless cruelty and low rudeness toward his helpless foster father. Siegfried drifted back and forth to Mime; he knew and abused the fact that he'd always be welcomed. When he was hungry, he ate what Mime prepared, when not, he kicked the bowl of soup from Mime's hand. Wagner could have chosen a way to keep Siegfried more human; instead of singing his hatred and scorn to Mime's face he could have sung to himself, and to us the audience, something like: "I don't like this guy even if he tries to be nice." The main idea would be preserved and the morality of the composer and his creation would be saved. Even after discovering that Mime really was evil he didn't have to kill him; keeping away would have been enough. But Wagner was obviously insensitive to the monster he created, being similar to him. In the real world anybody would be legally punished for tormenting his parent with no reason the way Siegfried treated Mime.

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