... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

Legends, the Blood of the Dragon and Pretzels

When my friend, event and celebrity manager Lars Koehl invited me to this event taking place last Friday, I had no idea what to expect. Not sure if I wanted to go because of my broken ankle, I decided to rally and go anyway–always up for seeing things I’ve never seen before.

Am I ever glad I did! This cultural experience was awesome!

The Nibelungen Festspiel (festival) is one of the top theater productions in Germany. It takes place in Worms, Germany (population about 83,000) at the open air theater of the historical Wormser Cathedral which is adjacent to the Heylshofpark, said to be the most beautiful Theater-Foyer in Germany. For this premiere event, the park pool was scarlet with the blood of the dragon…

The Nibelungenlied is a German epic poem. The stories are comparable in importance in Germanic history as the Homeric legends are to the Greeks. It belongs as a matter of fact to the UNESCO documentary list.

The roots of this work of art began sometime around 453 and were assembled together by the unknown poet (that in itself is captivating) sometime around 1200. The title means “Song of the Nibelungs.” “Nibelungen” is the plural of “Nibelung,” which refers to a dynasty conquered by the hero or protagonist of the epic, the dragon-slayer Siegfried. The characters are very, very complex.

What makes the piece so fascinating to me is that The Nibelungen sagacombines elements of many different historical, legendary, and mythological tales. 

It encompasses themes such as heroism, feudalism, justice and revenge, honor, loyalty, deception, dreams, and the importance of keeping up appearances. 

The legend of the Nibelungs arose from the historicaldestruction of the Burgundian kingdom on the Rhine River by Etzel’s army of Huns (later identified in legend with the army of Attila the Hun) around the year 437. Many other characters in the Nibelungenlied have some historical basis as well. The events in the poem, however, were altered by oral history and combined with other legends when the story was first written down for a medieval audience around 1200.

 This saga also attracts study and commentary on the basis of its accomplished literary features, such as its structure, character development, and the use of foreshadowing. The foreshadowing is extremely helpful because the stories are complicated. The unknown Nibelungelied poet combined disparate material and stories into a comprehensive whole that captures modern readers not a bit less than the audiences of eight hundred years ago. 800 years! 

Since 2002, authors have been competing to have their interpretation of the saga presented on this stage. 

The premiere of this year’s event began with the red carpet. Lars guided the German actors Sybille Nicolai, Simone Rethel Heesters, Dieter Gring and myself across, stopping long enough for photos and autographs.

Inside the entrance hall we received our tickets and were handed plastic raincoats because the skies threatened. Once we stepped onto the grounds of the park we were greeted with champagne and wine and mammoth sized pretzels of which I ate one (or two) too many; various finger foods and live music. The theater piece itself began at eight thirty. It did rain, but fortunately not for long. No one moved from their seats, they simply donned their rain covers–umbrellas weren’t allowed–and the show went on.

Intermission lasted 45 minutes and by then it was dark and the park was beautifully and serenely lit. I ate another pretzel–I was out there by then– and enjoyed a glass of chardonnay. It felt almost other worldly. By the time the show was over it was midnight. I thought that we’d be bidding farewell to old friends and new acquaintances–I had no idea that there would be a feast of a meal fit for a king prepared and waiting for us! Everything, absolutely everything  from roast beef to fish to couscous to various salads to…pretzels. 

This was a cultural experience like I’ve never experienced before. A night to remember indeed.

Thank you again, Lars. Pretzels and legends forever!

Pool filled with the blood of the dragon
The performers on the white draped stage
Dieter Gring, Sybille Nicolai, Simone Rethel Heesters and Lars Koehl
With Lars and director Nico Hoffman