Of the Ring Cycle’s four constituent parts, Die Walküre is the best standalone. Despite the mythical dimension and the considerable backstory of Das Rheingold , with a human love story and its impact of a father/daughter relationship at its heart, the second instalment in Wagner’s epic tetralogy never fails to make an immediate and considerable impact. And so it does in this 2018 staging from the Royal Opera House, thanks to an outstanding cast of singing actors, sure and impassioned musical leadership from Antonio Pappano, and the experienced directorial hand of Keith Warner who draws out acting performances of visceral intensity.

The essentially Freudian approach here is manifested most clearly in the incestuous relationship between Siegmund and Sieglinde, but also, notably, in the psychosexual goings on between Wotan and all three of his children. The former is par for the course. Wagner’s great achievement is to build up the erotic pressure between brother and sister, holding the reveal until his audience cannot but support the transgressive nature of their bond. The latter, however, is more overt than is often the...

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