Almas Svilpa (Wotan), Martina Dike (Fricka) | (c) HansJörg Michel
Die Walküre
Richard Wagner
Duration: about 5 hours, two intervals
Duration: about 5 hours, two intervals

Wotan had seized the Ring from Alberich the Nibelung, but in order to fulfil his obligation to the giants for building Valhalla, he had to give it to them, and since then a dangerously tense impasse between himself and Alberich has developed. Without the power of the Ring Wotan must fear that Alberich can bring about the downfall of the gods. Wotan came under pressure to find a free hero to win back the Ring for him and with it his undisputed rule over the world. His first step was to father the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde on a human mother.

For many years Wotan lived as “Wälse” in the human world with Siegmund, with the goal of training him to be a lonely rebel. Sieglinde was sold off to Hunding, with whom she leads a forced marriage. In their forest home Siegmund happens to seek refuge. It becomes clear to Hunding that here is the worst enemy of his clan, but he acknowledges his right to shelter for one night.

Next day they are to meet in mortal combat. Sieglinde, who feels drawn towards the stranger, mixes a sleeping-potion into Hunding’s evening draught. She tells Siegmund of her plight and shows him a sword which, at her wedding to Hunding, an unknown visitor thrust into the trunk of an ash-tree, and which up to now nobody has been able to draw out. Siegmund proves capable of drawing the sword from the tree; he and Sieglinde realize that they are the long-parted Wälsung twins, and they unite in physical love.


Wotan instructs Brünnhilde, his favourite Valkyrie daughter, to see that Siegmund defeats Hunding in the coming combat. But his consort Fricka opens his eyes to the falseness of this move. She does not only defend Hunding’s rights as a husband, but also dismisses Wotan’s favouring Siegmund as mere abuse of power for the sake of his own plans for the future. She demands that Siegmund should lose the battle. Wotan recognizes his plan as a failure, gives way and countermands his instruction to Brünnhilde.

Brünnhilde appears to Siegmund to prophesy his imminent death and transfer to Valhalla as a dead hero. But for Siegmund the interests of Sieglinde are more important than any heroic ideals. Deeply moved by his unswerving loyalty, Brünnhilde ignores Wotan’s command and supports Siegmund in the battle. Wotan sees himself obliged to intervene and to kill his own son Siegmundhimself, shattering the Sword. He also puts Hunding to death. Brünnhilde flees to safety with Sieglinde and the fruit of love growing in her.


Brünnhilde flees before Wotan’s wrath to her sister Valkyries, whom Wotan had once brought into being as his private force to secure victory and world domination for him. Brünnhilde begs the other Valkyries to protect her, but they fear Wotan, and therefore she first sees that Sieglinde escapes, and then turns to face her mighty father alone.

Wotan’s punishment is stern. He disowns her as his daughter and leaves her at the mercy of any man into whose hands she may fall. At her imploration he relents and instals a wall of fire to surround Brünnhilde, which only a fearless hero may penetrate. Thus the concept of human freedom which Wotan had envisaged and then all but abandoned has a new chance to prevail.


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