Skip to the content

Tanglewood Learning Institute | Wagner Weekend


Warning: This post contains major spoilers for the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones fans may be surprised (and delighted) to learn that their beloved fantasy series shares several thematic elements with Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). Palace intrigue, impassioned characters—and, yes, incest—factor into both epics; each tale offers a compelling study of power that sheds insight on today’s political climate. If you turned off your television (or closed your laptop) on May 19th with the sinking realization that GoT was indeed over, do not despair. The Tanglewood Learning Institute is coming to your rescue with our Wagner Weekend (July 26- 28), which includes events inspired by Wagner’s Die Walküre as well as a performance of the opera that will satisfy the most ravenous appetites for grand, mythic narratives.

As a complement to the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s two-day performance of Die Walküre, the Wagner Weekend will feature participative talks by educators and artists who will immerse you in the opera’s epic struggle between love and power. You’ll hear Christine Goerke—today's reigning Brünnhilde (watch her discuss this iconic role)—and renowned Wagner conductor and BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons in conversation. You’ll participate in a once-in-a-lifetime table talk lunch with soloists and players, and experience a stunning open rehearsal. And if you already consider yourself a Wagner connoisseur, prepare to see echoes of Die Walküre—and Wagner’s exploration of the downfall of the Gods—in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s discussion of leadership and power in the 20th century (check out her recent talk, “Leadership: In Turbulent Times.”)

Wagner and Westeros
Game of Thrones will stay fresh in your mind as you explore the opera and its parallels to the television series. The love affair between Die Walküre’s twin siblings Siegmund and Sieglinde echoes the forbidden lust between Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jaime, the consequences of which drive much of Game of Thrones’ plot. And Daenerys Targaryen’s torching of King’s Landing may seem just as shocking as Brünnhilde’s immolation and incineration of Valhalla in the final act of the Ring’s final opera Götterdämmerung. Dragons, dwarves, and magic abound in each narrative; both stories thrill, excite and fascinate on a grand scale.

So, come and enjoy an unforgettable weekend filled with moments guaranteed to transform the way you experience Wagner—and perhaps remind you just what you loved about your favorite television show. After your dive deep into this world of myth, magic, and mystery, consider watching Anna Russell’s comedic summary of the Ring cycle for a good laugh and palette cleanser. Even Wagner had a sense of humor.

Donate Today

You can help the BSO ensure that Tanglewood remains vibrant and unique among summer festivals by supporting Tanglewood Forever. Donate online now, or contact the BSO Development Office at 617-638-9267 or for more information.