where truth resides



Bayreuth, Germany



Bayreuth, Germany, is the home of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus (Bayreuth Festival House) pictured above.  It was here in 1876 that Richard Wagner's epic tetraology, Der Ring Des Nibelungen, was premiered, including the last of the four operas, Die Gotterdammerung (The Twilight of the Gods), which concludes with Brunnhilde's Immolation, which can be seen in this picture by Arthur Rackham (beware a bit of immodest Valkyrie dress on the Victorian artist's part) or in this video from a 1982 production in this same opera house. 


As can clearly be seen, there is a strong connection between Brunnhilde's fictional immolation of 1876 (which has been replicated in every production thereafter until the present, and will be replicated in every future production until the end of time) and Tecla's actual immmolation of 1619, and the parallels are more than just visual.  Brunnhilde's Immolation takes place on the banks of the Rhine, the main river of Germany history and lore, just as Tecla's Immolation takes place on the banks of the Kamogawa, the main river of Japan's history and lore.  Brunnhilde's Immolation is carried out for the downfall of the gods and the redemption of the world through love, just as we may say of Tecla's Immolation.  Brunnhilde's Immolation is done with the intention of following her husband--the brave knight, Siegfried--into death as they are both engulfed in flames, just as Tecla's Immolation is done with the intention of following her husband--the brave samurai knight, Johann Kikoya--into death as they are both engulfed in flames.  Amazingly, Brunnhilde sings a motif of pregnancy as she carries out her immolation, just as Tecla was pregnant during her immolation.


Even the words Brunnhilde sings prior to her immolation could have, in may respects, been put into the mouth of Tecla before her own dramatic, opera-like immolation in which she donned a special gown for this earth-shattering event.*  To wit:


Stack stout
logs for me in piles
there by the shore of the Rhine!
High and bright
let a fire blaze
which shall consume
the noble body of the mighty hero . . .
for my own body longs
to share the hero's
holiest honour.
Fulfil Brünnhilde's request!


(Then she addresses her steed, Grane, which, in actual performances of The Ring never appears, thereby unconsciously following Tecla’s horseless immolation):


Grane, my steed,
Do you too know, my friend,
where I am leading you?
Radiant in the fire,
there lies your lord,
Siegfried, my blessed hero.
Are you neighing for joy
to follow your friend?
Do the laughing flames
lure you to him?
Feel my bosom too,
how it burns;
a bright fire
fastens on my heart
to embrace him,
enfolded in his arms,
to be one with him
in the intensity of love!
Heiajoho! Grane!
Greet your master!
Siegfried! Siegfried! See!
Your wife joyfully greets you!


Wagner changed the ending of Gotterdammerung six times, all the endings of which were very pedestrian and commonplace in nature, until, by a kind of Divine Inspiration, he finally settled on this very Teclan ending.  It is also an ending reminiscent of the Virgin of Takatori (who can be seen here) seen in the flames behind the Sacred Heart Statue of Christ on the morning of the Kobe/Hanshin Quake of January 17, 1995.  Wagner never knew or heard of Tecla Hashimoto, as his and his second wife, Cosima's, writings would indicate, and Wagner was not even a Catholic,  but, as I once read in a book about the unconscious mind (which title escapes me now), "The unconscious knows all." 


* A Japanese acquaintance of mine who translated an account of Tecla's martyrdom that existed on the internet in the original Japanese, said that Tecla had donned the kind of long, beautiful gown that Japanese women only wear while giving a performance onstage.


Photo courtesy of Rico Neitzel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bayreuth_Festspielhaus_2006-07-16.jpg