Mortgage Problems in Valhalla
The story of the Ring of the Nibelungen, written by Wagner, was loosely based on German and Scandinavian myths and sagas. The entire cycle of four operas was first performed for the public in 1876, with costumes and set designs by Carl Emil Doepler. At that performance, during the second Opera Die Walküre, the character Hunding, wore a horned helmet to signify his evil nature. A mystifying transposition from Opera to Reality then occurred. From that moment on, the horned helmet became synonymous with the depiction of Norse and Viking Gods and heroes!!
We find it interesting that an operatic version of reality has embedded itself so thoroughly in our culture. In fact there is no evidence whatsoever that any Vikings wore horned helmets, ever!
Constance very much enjoyed a performance of the first of the Ring cycle, Das Rheingold last weekend. Ours was a “pocket-version” of Wagner because of the reduced orchestra to fit our small theatre. The production was the first offering of the 2014/15 Opera season by our local company, Pacific Opera Victoria. We were Very Glad to note the absence of horned helmets in the performance, and enjoyed the striding, self-important Gods; the Writhing Rhine Maidens; the clanging anvils and screams of the Nibelungen; and the clumping giants!
Constance is dressed in clothing from the fibres and in the style that may actually have been worn by Viking women, who were the ones that tended the sheep and grew the flax, spun the fibres and wove the cloth worn by men women and children of the Viking ages. Their preferred colours were browns and greys of the natural fibres, and colours from plant dyes: red from the madder plant; blue from woad; and yellow from an unknown plant. They sewed with linen threads; ironed cloth flat with polished stone or glass spheres; made cords with lucets; used a nålbinding needle instead of two knitting needles; fastened their cloaks with penannular brooches…and you may never guess what important textile function was performed by earwax!!!
To view Constance’s other opera reviews go to this link
Ah, dear Constance, you are my favorite learning tool!!! And a blessing on this grey and slow day!
Constance is happy that you got a little cheer from her Viking experience!
It’s always a fascinating “moment” when spent at the QH household blog. Thank you!
You are welcome, it is always very nice to know someone is out there “listening”, we love any excuse to dress up, even in Viking garb!
May never guess. And actually don’t wish to bend my mind to that task.
Good job by Constance to correct false popular notions of those scoundrels that wreaked havoc through Europe. In hornless helmets or bare heads.
Oh well, we’ll just have to keep the extremely fascinating earwax information to ourselves then 😦
Constance looks so lovely, I daresay her eyes are twinkling more than ever at all the Viking fun.
Thanks, Constance’s eyes twinkle a lot! She wishes the Quimper Hittys would find a Viking longboat washed up on the beach sometime!
The Country Hittys were inspired to ferret out their old recording of the Ring cycle and play parts of it whilst marching about trying to look Norsky. We so enjoyed your photos and the information on clothing and textiles of the time.
Constance looks very authentic!! Thanks for the wonderful photos and information.
You are welcome! Constance relished the opportunity to dress in her Medieval garb, Scandinavian style. She hasn’t worn her tuohivirsut since she got back from Finland!
What a delightful Viking apron dress…. and oh, please, don’t keep us in suspense! Earwax? How frugal and efficient of them…. um…. was it used to wax sewing thread?
Indeed, it is a little known fact, but used to be common practice! Earwax was collected and used to wax sewing threads, and special spoons were used to collect it. This is not as strange as it sounds – people in pioneer times in North America did the same thing!
Wonderful! Constance looks so amazing!
I’m glad you solved the mystery of the ear wax! Constance looks charming, love all her textile-y things.
I spent all summer talking to kids at the museum about Viking textiles – they loved the scuttlebutt on earwax. I couldn’t help making Constance an outfit to go with this blog, and she always likes an excuse to dress up!