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Die Walküre

First day of the Bühnenfestspiel »The Ring of the Nibelungs« by Richard Wagner

Synopsis

First scene

Wotan is pursuing a world project. He wants to create a new human being who, not bound by any law and tradition, can restore world order which has begun to disintegrate after the Rhinegold was stolen. He lets him wander nameless and solitary through the word. Pursued by enemies, the stranger finds shelter in Hunding's hut. Here he meets Sieglinde who was forcibly married to Hunding. She offers him refreshment. Hunding too grants him hospitality but is forced to learn that he is sheltering the enemy who is taking revenge on his kinsmen. He challenges him to fight a duel the next day. The stranger remembers that his father had promised him a sword if he was in dire need. Sieglinde shows him the sword which had been driven into the trunk of a tree growing in Hunding's hut. No-one had hitherto succeeded in winning the sword. Sieglinde senses that the hero has now arrived. When the stranger withdraws the sword from the trunk, Sieglinde recognises him as her brother Siegmund. The twins become Iovers.

Second scene

Wotan orders Brünnhilde, his favourite Valkyrie daughter, to protect Siegmund in his combat with Hunding but Fricka, his wife and the guardian of marriage vows, shows him the impossibility of basing his future project on adultery and incest. She demands that Siegmund be slain. Wotan's plans are shattered. He revokes his instruction to Brünnhilde and only wishes for one thing: the end. Brünnhilde tells Siegmund that he is to die and promises him a glorious death but Siegmund foregoes a hero's honour out of love for Sieglinde. Deeply touched by this love, Brünnhilde disobeys the ruler of the gods and fights at Siegmund's side. Wotan himself has to intervene. Siegmund's sword Nothung is shattered by his spear. Hunding kills Siegmund and shortly after is himself killed by Wotan. Brünnhilde saves Sieglinde who will soon bear Sigmund’s child.

Third scene

Wotan's Valkyrie daughters assemble the heroes of the battlefields to lead them to Valhalla. Brünnhilde seeks refuge with them to escape the wrath of Wotan. The sisters are supposed to help save Sieglinde but the Valkyrie draw back. Brünnhilde foretells to Sieglinde the birth of the hero Siegfried and gives her the shattered sword Nothung and urges her to flee. She wishes to confront Wotan alone. He punishes his disobedient daughter severely: Brünnhilde is expelled from Valhalla and banished to a rock. Deprived of her immortal Status, she will belong to the man who wakes her from her sleep. With his farewell to Brünnhilde, Wotan relinquishes his will for further action. He surrounds the rock with a sea of flames which only a fearless hero can pass through. Thus, he nourishes the hope of a free hero who, united with Brünnhilde, can succeed where the god failed.

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