Die Walkure Events
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Die Walkure ("The Valkyrie") is the second of four operas that comprise Richard Wagner's famous series, Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), popularly known as The Ring Cycle. The other operas, in order, are Das Rheingold ("The Rhine Gold"), Siegfried, and Gotterdammerung ("Twilight of the Gods"). The series is based on characters from the Norse sagas and Poetic Edda, and tells the tale of the all-powerful ring forged by the dwarf (Nibelung) Alberich and the havoc it causes for gods and men alike. Die Walkure focuses on the conception of the hero Siegfried and the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, who defies her father, Wotan, king of the gods, by protecting him and his parents.
Die Walkure, like the other operas in the cycle, is through-composed and widely recognized for its use of leitmotifs, musical themes that are identified with certain characters or feelings, the most popular of which is that of the famous excerpt "Ride of the Valkyries." The opera was premiered on its own at the National Theatre Munich on June 26, 1970, at the request of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Wagner, who always intended for the cycle to be performed together, premiered it with the other three operas for the first time on August 14, 1876. Die Walkure, an eagerly-awaited success, made its United States premiere on April 2, 1877 at the Academy of Music in New York, and has gone on to become a favorite in the operatic canon. Don't delay any longer--get your own Die Walkure tickets today and see this legendary opera for yourself!
Act I: Seeking shelter from a terrible storm, Siegmund takes refuge in the house of the warrior Hunding. Since Hunding is not available, Siegmund, calling himself "Wehwalt" ("filled with woe), is met by his wife, Sieglinde, who he tells that he is on the run from enemies. After taking a sip of mead, he goes to the door, asserting that he is nothing but trouble, but Sieglinde asks him to stay, saying that he can bring no worse luck than the household already has. When Hunding arrives, he begrudgingly offers Siegmund a night's stay in his home, as is demanded by the custom of hospitality, and at Sieglinde's request, he tells the tale of his misfortune. After discovering his mother dead and his sister abducted one day, he wandered from home. When he encountered a girl being forced into marriage, he fought her relatives, breaking his sword. The girl was killed and Siegmund fled the angry mob that pursued him. At the end of his story, Hunding says that he is one of Siegmund's enemies, and that they would do battle the next day. Later that night, Sieglinde returns, having drugged Hunding to keep him asleep. She reveals that she was forced to marry him, and on her wedding day, an old man plunged a great sword into a tree in the middle of the room. She longs for a hero who can remove the sword and free her from her bondage. When Siegmund reveals the name of his father, Walse, she exclaims that he is Siegmund, the hero destined to claim the weapon. He draws the sword, which he names "Nothung" ("Needful," for it is what he needs to vanquish Hunding) and she tells him that she is his long, lost twin sister. Siegmund calls Sieglinde his "bride and sister" and they embrace in passion.
Act II: Wotan, king of the gods, stands on a mountain with his Valkyrie daughter, Brunnhilde. Because he is Siegmund's true father, he wants her to protect him in his upcoming battle with Hunding, but Fricka, his wife and the goddess of marriage, demands that Siegmund and Sieglinde be punished for committing adultery and incest, to which he reluctantly agrees. Fricka leaves, and Wotan explains his troubles to her: upset by the prophecy of the gods' doom delivered by Erda, the earth goddess, he seduced her to learn more. He fathered Brunnhilde, who he raised with eight other Valkyrie sisters, warrior women who claim the souls of deceased heroes to create an army against Alberich, the devious dwarf and creator of the dangerously powerful ring that threatens to destroy the gods. Wotan's army is destined to fail if Alberich gets his ring back, which is currently in the possession of the giant Fafner. Fafner has used the magical Tarnhelm to transform himself into a dragon, in which form he guards the ring and his other treasures. Wotan can not seize the ring, nor can he send one of his servants, because of a contract between the two, so he needs an independent hero to defeat the dragon in his stead. After his story, he orders Brunnhilde to ensure Siegmund's defeat. When she reaches Siegmund and Sieglinde, who have fled to a mountain pass, she tells Siegmund of his doom. When he refuses to follow her to Valhalla because Sieglinde is forbidden to join him, Brunnhilde agrees to grant him victory because of his passion. When Hunding arrives, Siegmund begins to overpower him, but Wotan shatters his sword, and Hunding kills him. Brunnhilde gathers up Sieglinde and the shards of Nothung and flees on horseback. Wotan strikes Hunding dead in vengeance of his son and takes off after his renegade daughter.
Act III: Brunnhilde arrives at the meeting of the other Valkyries, each with a dead hero in their possession. They are surprised when Brunnhilde arrives with Sieglinde, a living woman, but even when she reveals that the woman is pregnant, they refuse to help her defy Wotan. Brunnhilde decides to stall Wotan as Sieglinde flees with her unborn child by Siegmund, who she names Siegfried. When he arrives, Wotan is furious at Brunnhilde's disobedience, and sentences her to be stripped of her power and held in a deep sleep on a mountaintop. She asserts that she knew that saving Siegmund was Wotan's true desire, and so Wotan agrees to honor her last request, that she be protected by a circle of fire that can only be crossed by the most courageous of heroes (who they both know will be Siegfried). He lays her down on the mountaintop, orders Loge, the demigod of fire, to encircle her with flame, and decrees that the wall shall be impenetrable by anyone who fears his spear.
|Music and Libretto by||Richard Wagner|
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