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Die Walküre, Act 3 Scene 3

About the Work

Quick Look Composer: Richard Wagner
© Peter Laki

The Final Scene of Die Walküre (completed in 1856, first performed in 1870), culminates as Wotan, the chief of the gods, says farewell to Brünnhilde, one of his nine daughters by the earth goddess Erda. A Valkyrie or "chooser of the slain," Brünnhilde had been ordered by Wotan to help Siegmund (his son by a mortal woman) defeat Hunding, yet he had to reverse the order after his wife Fricka made it clear to him that he had no moral right to defend Siegmund. Yet Brünnhilde wanted to carry out what she knew to be Wotan's true wish rather than the new order given under coercion, and she attempted to shield Siegmund -- but of course Wotan intervened and let Hunding kill Siegmund. Now the god must punish his favorite daughter for her insubordination. The profound love and understanding between them cannot change what is immutable: they must part forever. Brünnhilde must lose her divinity and become a mortal woman. Her only wish is to be protected against unworthy suitors: she wants to be surrounded by a fire that will frighten away all but the one fearless hero she will be awaiting in sleep. Brünnhilde knows that this hero will be none other than the yet-unborn Siegfried, the son of the slain Siegmund and his twin sister Sieglinde, and the music reveals that knowledge by the frequent recurrences of the Siegfried motif.

Wotan grants his daughter's wish. He sings his deeply emotional Farewell, and then summons Loge, the demigod known from Das Rheingold, to bring his fire to Brünnhilde's Rock. Loge's musical material reappears in the vibrant chromaticism of the Magic Fire music, combined with the themes of slumber and the triumphant Siegfried motif as the flames begin to encircle Brünnhilde. Wotan, in deep sadness, leaves the scene, a broken man.