Nothing quite captures passion like the throes of forbidden love. For Masterworks III: Passion, the QCSO will take on Peter Mumford’s multimedia production of Wagner’s Die Walküre, Act 1 on December 7 and 8, combining orchestra, vocalists, and captivating video projections across three different screens to bring to life Siegmund and Sieglinde’s passion for one another.

A Total Work of Art

Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre is the second of four parts that make up his opera Der Ring des Nibelungen. It was first performed in its entirety in 1876 at the inaugural Bayreuth Festival.

Bühnenbildentwurf von Josef Hoffmann, Die Walküre“Twins separated at birth. A warrior being chased down to somehow find himself in the home of the twin from whom he was separated, and they weirdly fall in love. It’s a super complicated story,” said QCSO Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith. “Yet what Wagner does musically and dramatically is something that nobody else had ever done to that degree.”

Siegmund and Sieglinde are in fact twins separated by their father Wotan, the god of battle. Despite being related, the two cannot help but fall for each other, a forbidden love that angers the gods.

The story is heavily inspired by Norse mythology, carefully toeing the line that separates the worlds of mortal and god. It is a classic drama, perfectly encapsulating the themes of war, passion, and love.

“The way Wagner could use the orchestral sound to portray passion, to get things stirred up, the way he would take music and make it so symbolic…” Smith said. “What Wagner does musically is unbelievable.”

QCSO Executive Director Brian Baxter agrees, adding, “This was Wagner’s idea of a total work of art. It is absolute perfection.”

Bringing to Life Wagner’s Full Vision

Undoubtedly Masterworks III is one of the season’s most unique performances. Not only is it an opera, but it’s multimedia in nature through the talents and expertise of acclaimed director and lighting & projection manager Peter Mumford.

Peter Mumford“Peter Mumford is extraordinarily talented,” Baxter said. “He has done the entire Ring Cycle in the UK, but never here. So this is the North American premiere.”

Mumford’s re-imagining of Die Walküre blends the orchestra and vocalists with visual and lighting effects, the aim of which is to tell the narrative in a way that truly captures the splendor of this mythical world.

“We’ll have screens over the orchestra with visualizations that will be paired with the action on the stage,” Baxter described. “The three singers are very simply dressed. They’re not wearing full costumes; there’s not a big set with a giant tree and a sword. The singers are not conversing with each other; instead, they’re singing directly to the audience.”

All the while the screens will add to the story, helping the audience track what’s happening. Because there are no props or costumes, the visualizations will amplify these aspects, too.

“All of the Ring Cycle is about storytelling with the characters. It makes sense the way it’s being done. It’s an evocative way to do it,” Baxter concludes.

An Epic Treat

Aside from Mumford’s fresh take on a classic opera, the vocalists bring a powerful element to Masterworks III. Issachah Savage will perform as Siegmund; Heidi Melton as Sieglinde; and finally, Stefan Szkafarowsky as Sieglinde’s husband, Hunding.

“They are Wagnerian singers,” Smith said. “It’s an utterly unique thing. You have to have such power in your voice and be able to ride over a full orchestra. Wagnerian singers are very rare. Finding three vocalists in the world who can sing these roles—to have the physical apparatus—is almost superhuman.”

For Smith, he has no doubt the evening will end in triumph.

“With multimedia, with screens, with singers, with lighting, with the orchestra, we can present a theatrical evening. And this is what Wagner was all about: the combination and potency of music and drama.”

Masterworks III: Passion Soloists


Masterworks III: Passion
December 7, 2019 | 8:00 p.m.
Adler Theatre
136 E 3rd St | Davenport, IA

November 38 2019 | 2:00 p.m.
Adler Theatre
136 E 3rd St | Davenport, IA

Purchase Tickets | $18 – $65 Adults each | $10 – $33 Students each

Enrich Your Experience


Join QCSO Music Director Mark Russell Smith in an exploration of the Masterworks programs on Thursday evening preceding each Masterworks concert. Doors open at 4:45 p.m. Free Admission. Cash Bar. Hosted at the Adler Theatre


One hour before each Masterworks performance, concert-goers are invited to attend informal pre-concert conversations to hear about the works being presented. Hosted by Kai Swanson. Sponsored by Chris Connoly, Wells Fargo Advisors


Mingle with Maestro Mark Russell Smith, guest artists, and members of the QCSO immediately following the Saturday Masterworks performances. Free Admission. Cash Bar. Hosted at the Hotel Blackhawk


Article by
Tyler Mitchell
Freelance Writer

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