Germany’s Merkel offers her thoughts on Wagner’s Ring cycle


BERLIN (AP) — Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a longtime opera fan, is offering her thoughts on Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle — the latest in a series of sporadic and sometimes idiosyncratic appearances since she left office a year ago.

Merkel joined a former federal court judge, Thomas Fischer, to reflect on “greed,” “revenge” and “vanity” in Wagner’s epic and lengthy creation in a three-part special edition of a crime-themed audio podcast for public broadcaster SWR that went online Sunday.

The 68-year-old center-right politician, who led Germany for 16 years, said that the cycle “is so universally applicable to humanity that you keep finding things, from family life to political life, that keep happening among us humans.”

She said that “when you meet real people, there are situations where you remember — I won’t name any names, but certain themes occur to you.”

Merkel and her husband, chemist Joachim Sauer, are regular guests at the annual Bayreuth opera festival that celebrates Wagner’s work.

Merkel has kept a relatively low profile since handing over to successor Olaf Scholz in December 2021. She has stayed out of the current political fray, but has defended her attempts as chancellor to bring about a diplomatic solution to tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and her government’s decisions to buy large quantities of natural gas from Russia.

Among a few other appearances, the one-time physicist accepted an award from the U.N. refugee agency and gave a speech honoring the former head of a national scientific academy in which she touched on gut flora and antibiotic resistance. Her political memoirs are due to be published in 2024.

“I can do formats now that in the past I could do only very, very seldom, and that’s part of my new-won freedom,” Merkel said of the new podcast. “So I wanted to try out going in a completely different direction.”


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