PRELUDE. Hail to the World appears in the opening bar and two bars later the bas-soon, clarinet, and bass-clarinet introduce The Rhine. This prelude is very short : the curtain rises at the eighteenth bar. It is night on the Walkyrie rock. A glow illumines the background. The eldest Norn lies under the fir-tree ; the second, on a bank of stone before the entrance to the cavern ; the third sits on a rock at the edge of the height. After a gloomy silence of eight bars, the first Nom asks what is that light, while the bass-clarinet moans with the Distress of the Gods. It is only Loge (Flames’ Spell). Then, since it is still night, they will sing and spin the rope ! The first Norn rises and fastens one end to a branch of the fir. She sings of the World-Ash to which she once tied it. The well of wisdom was at its foot, and thither came Wotan to drink, leaving an eye in payment. He broke off a bough for the staff of a spear, and the wound extended in the tree till it withered and the well dried up.
She throws the rope to the second Norn, who winds it around a rock at the entrance of the cavern, and sings in turn.
Wotan cut runes in the shaft (Treaty, bass strings) and thereby ruled the world till a hero shattered it. Then Wotan sent the heroes of Walhalla (oboes and cor anglais) to cut down the World-Ash.
She throws the rope to the third Norn, who catches it and throws the end behind her as she sings and weaves.
Wotan sits in his hall with the wood of the World-Ash piled high around the walls; The Fall of the Gods is near : they shall perish in the flames.
She throws the rope to the second Norn to continue ; but she hands it on to the first, who sings on.
The Flames in the background give deceptive daylight. Have they heard what happened to Loge ? She throws the rope back to the second Norn, who winds it again around the rock and replies. Wotan held his aid with the spear, until he struggled for freedom then Wotan set him to burn about Brunnhilde’s rock. (The third Norn takes up the tale.) Wotan now pierces him to the heart with the splinters of his spear. Fire flows from the wound, and is aimed at the pile. (Treaty, bassoons and bass strings.) When will it burn ? The rope is thrown from one to the other, but they cannot find the threads for reply. The rope is ravelled. The rock’s tooth has frayed it. The Curse of the Ring works in the threads. What will result ? The third Norn catches the rope and pulls hard at it. It parts in the middle with a rending on the bass strings. They start up in terror and bind themselves together with the pieces, while The Fall of the Gods sounds on flutes, oboes, and clarinets. Their knowledge is departed : they must join their mother below !
The motive, accompanying their words, in addition to those already noted, are Hail to Walhalla, Death, Fate, Loge, Eternal Sleep, Ring, Love’s Regret, Adoration of the Gold, Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph, Sword, and Call of the Son of the Woods.
As they disappear, Fate sounds on the cor anglais and is repeated on the trombone.
Day begins to dawn, paling Loge’s glow. The Call of the Son of the Woods in a heroic form is given by the horns ‘ that lead it into a new motiv, Brünnhilde. While the sun is rising, the orchestral web is largely woven with these two motive.
The lovers enter from the cave to the Ride, while horns and trumpets give the Call of the Son of the Woods. Siegfried is in full armour, and Brünnhilde is leading Grane. She will not withhold him from fresh deeds of heroism.
Her words ” Wenig mein Werth gewann” introduce the new motiv, Heroic Love, on clarinets, horns, oboes, and strings. In this leave-taking, besides the above motive frequently occurring, we have Hail to Love, Loge, Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, Fate, Heritage of the World, Ring, Ride, Gold, and. its Adoration, Ride, Love, Desire to Travel, and the Sword in succession.
Brünnhilde says she has had nothing to give Siegfried but her knowledge of the runes. He replies that he is a poor learner, but the only knoweldge he needs is that she is his. She begs him not to forget her and their mutual love. Be-fore departing, he gives her in return for her runes a ring whose sole value is as a memento of his victory over the dragon. She has no use for Grane now, and so she gives him to Siegfried. Then they take a passionate farewell of one another, and Siegfried leads Grane down the rock. Brünnhilde gazes after him while her motiv is several times repeated on the wood-wind and higher brass, till at last the Call of the Son of the Woods dies away in the distance, and the curtain quickly falls.
Then comes a long entr’acte of one hundred and seventy-five bars, into which, among other motive, are woven the Decision to Love, Love’s Regret, Gold and its Adoration, Rhine, Power of the Ring, and, shortly before the curtain rises, the Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph.
ACT I. The Gibichung’s Hall. It is open at the back and shows a stretch of the shore of the Rhine.
Gunther and Gutrune are sitting in the seat of honour before a table on which are drinking vessels and at which Hagen is also sitting. At the sixth bar, the trumpets and trombones announce the motiv of the Gibichungs, which is related to the Rhine.
Gunther is asking his wise half-brother Hagen whether he does well to stay quietly here by the Rhine (trombone). He values Hagen’s counsel. The latter suggests they are both unwed ! Yes ! but whom should Gunther woo ?
(Freia.) Hagen excites his interest with Brünnhilde (Ride, Flames’ Spell, and Bird), but Gunther doubts his own daring. Hagen says they need the help of Siegfried the hero ; and he describes his paternity and his deeds (Heroism of the Wälsungs, violas) at Neidhole. The horns give a curious composite version of the Sword and Call of the Son of the Woods and Fafner appears on bassoon and bass strings ; the Ring, Power of the Ring, Love’s Regret, Gold, and Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph also annotate his story.
Gunther grows peevish; what payment would induce the hero to undertake the task ? Hagen suggests that Gutrune’s charms might be usefully employed. She scorns the idea; the loveliest women in the world must all be hanging on his nod ! Her words, “Wie sollt ich Siegfried binden,” introduce Hagen’s Perfidious Friendship on clarinets, violas, and ‘cellos.
Gunther grows more attentive as Hagen suggests a love-philtre, every other woman would then be forgotten ! The violas, pianissimo, give Treachery by Magic at his ” I/ergessen musst er dess’ ganz.” It is immediately followed by the Power of the Helm. Then come the Sword, Freia, and Curse of the Ring, while the insidious counsel works. They are wishing that Siegfried might come their way, when the Call of the Son of the Woods sounds in the distance. The Adoration of the Gold and the Ring soon follow. Hagen goes to the bank of the Rhine and calls back that a boat is approaching with a horse and hero. From the might of his arm at the oar, it can only be the dragon’s slayer ! (The ‘cellos and violins reproduce the sweep of the oar.) Hagen hails the rower, who replies that he is seeking the Gibichung. He is invited ashore and lands to the Curse of the Ring. Gutrune keeps her seat, gazing in admiration at the stranger, while her brother advances to welcome Siegfried Guardian of the Sword (horns). He has heard of Gunther’s fame from afar and comes to fight or make friends. Where shall he stable Grane ? (the Ride, horns, and Brünnhilde, clarinet). Gutrune leaves the hall, at a sign from Hagen, who takes the horse away. Gunther makes the visitor welcome to his father’s house. Siegfried never owned aught but a Sword (trumpet) that he forged for himself (Bellows, on the strings). Hagen returns. As Siegfried tells about himself, we hear the Forge, Heroism of the Walsungs, Hagen’s Perfidious Friendship, Dragon, and Bondage. Hagen tells Siegfried the Power of the Helm that he wears. As for the Ring, for which he inquires, it is on a woman’s hand. Hagen goes to the door and brings in Gutrune with a drinking horn; with which she approaches Siegfried. Her ” Willkom, mein Gast, in Gibich’s Haus,” to harp, flute, oboes, clarinets, and horn, forms Gutrune’s Welcome.
Siegfried courteously takes it from her. While the clarinets, oboes, and violins give us his tender memories with Hail to Love and the Heritage of the World, he says he drinks to Brünnhilde, whom he will never cease to love. Then, as he drinks, the horns and violins fruitlessly warn him against Treachery by Magic, for the flutes, oboes, and clarinets immediately overpower it with Gutrune’s Welcome. She is confused and casts down her eyes before his, that immediately burn with passion for her. His mental derangement is shown by the fragmentary character of the Enthusiasm of Love, Flames’ Spell, and Bird that hover about the instruments.
He is now in their power; he will do anything for love of Gutrune. The terms are imposed and accepted : he will pass through the flames to win Brünnhilde for Gunther, assuming the latter’s image by means of the Tarnhelm. (Treachery, Loge, Ride, Sword, Curse of the Ring, and Treaty.)
Hagen fills a horn with wine ; they prick their arms with their swords and let the blood drip into it. Then they drink blood-brotherhood to the Treaty on the trombones. May the drops be turned to floods from the offender’s side if either fails ! Hagen then smashes the horn with his sword. Gunther’s ” Bricht ein Bruder den Bund” introduces a new motiv, the Justice of Expiation, in the duet between the two, in which Desire to Travel and the Treaty are also prominent.
Siegfried is in haste to be gone. Come ! here is the boat ! Gunther leaves Hagen in charge, while Gutrune wonders at their haste. Hagen explains that Siegfried burns to return to her, and seats himself in front of the hall with spear and shield, while the others embark. Gutrune retires to her chamber greatly moved. (The chief motive are the Treaty, Ring, Gutrune’s Welcome, Ring, Golden Apples, Forge, Love’s Regret, and the Ride and Loge in combination.)
Then Hagen exults that the two who have just left are his tools and will bring him the Ring. They serve the obscure Nibelung’s son ! His schemes are revealed in the orchestra by the Cry of Triumph and Work of Destruction of the Nibelung, Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, Ride, Love’s Regret, Gold, Ring, Call of the Son of the Woods, and Bondage.
A curtain is drawn across the front of the hall, and the music continues the action. The Treaty on trombones and tubas twice repeated recalls the bond of brotherhood ; and, twenty-four bars later, we hear Brunnhilde softly breathed on the clarinet and immediately repeated on the bass clarinet. Several repetitions of the same motiv occur, as well as her Hail to the World in combination with the Curse of the Ring. The Work of Destruction and the Ring also assist. Then the flutes, oboes, and cor anglais recall Treachery by Magic as the curtain is withdrawn and Brunnhilde is seen seated at the entrance to the cave on her rocky height, silently contemplating the Ring of Siegfried Treasure of the World (bassoons and clarinets). The horns immediately announce the advent of one of the race of Wotan with the Ride. Distant thunder also attracts her attention for a moment, but she returns to the Ring (strings) and the Treasure of the World as before. But the Ride becomes more insistent and the Shout is heard; and she rises to watch the approach of a dark storm-cloud. Whose horse is coming ? Waltraute’s hail excites her.
The former ties up her steed as of old, and enters from the wood. Brünnhilde runs to welcome her. Does she come with tidings of joy ?
Waltraute shamefacedly says that only affection brings her; and is welcomed with great joy. Has Wotan relented? Her sorrow has been turned into bliss : sweet is her lot in the love of a hero! Has her luck lured her sister from Walhalla ? No, Waltraute is not such a fool ! Then, does she flee from Wotan’s Rage ? No ! would that her father inspired fear now ! (Their dialogue is annotated by the announcement of a New Life, Hail to the World, Hail to Love, and Siegfried Guardian of the Sword.)
The Distress of the Gods makes itself known, to Brünnhilde’s terror. Waltraute tells her what has happened, while we hear Walhalla (crumbling into fragments even in its notes), Treaty, and Divine Power. Wotan sits in stony despair (Fate). No more he eats the Golden Apples. Neither the heroes nor the Walkyries can comfort him. He only smiles when his ravens return with good news. Waltraute at length heard him mutter that the weight of the Curse would pass if only to the Rhine-maidens (adoration of the Gold the Ring were restored. (Bondage wails, and Wotan’s Song of Farewell and Love’s Regret show of whom he was thinking. The Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph also announces the coming success of the latter.)
Brünnhilde scarcely comprehends her sister’s words. Her old life is like a dream. What is wanted of her ?
Waltraute awkwardly suggests that she shall restore the Ring (strings) to the Rhine-daughters. What ? Siegfried’s seal of love ! Never ! Waltraute may tell the gods that Walhalla shall be dust-driven before the wind first. Brünnhilde is deaf to her reproaches : the Ring she shall not have ! The music recalls all the motive of Brünnhilde’s love ; and her sister, with cries of despair, storms away in the Ride.
The rock is now again encircled with the Flames’ Spell and glows as the night falls. Siegfried’s distant horn is heard.
At the Call of the Son of the Woods, Briinnhilde starts up in ecstasy to meet her hero, but the Power of the Helm has transformed him into the semblance of Gunther, whose motiv is given by trumpets and trombones. He calls upon her to follow him. Treachery by Magic tries to excuse his conduct. Then comes Fate that wills it.
” Who is this man ? ” cries the terrified woman. He is Gunther ; and the Work of Destruction on the ‘cellos tells who instigated the quest. Brünnhilde then reviles Wotan whose Rage she thinks she now feels. As her captor approaches her, she tries to ward him off with the Ring. He says she shall be wedded with it ; and wrests it from her after a struggle, by virtue of the Curse of the Ring She is helpless in the arms of Siegfried Treasure of the World, though none but the orchestra knows it. The Power of the Helm (clarinets) is immediately succeeded by the fainting notes of Brünnhilde, and the ‘cellos mutter with the Work of Destruction.
He drives her before him into the cave, and seizes his Sword, which is given by the bass trumpet simultaneously with the Treaty on horns and trombones. Nothung is to be witness that he has faithfully carried out the compact ! Gutrune’s Welcome on oboes and clarinets haunts him. The Sword shall sunder him from the bride he has won for Gunther ! He follows his captive into the cave. Treachery by Magic and the Power of the Helm sound triumphantly, and flutes, piccolos, oboes, clarinets, and cor anglais are loud with the distracted Brünnhilde. Finally, the Power of the Helm is repeated and the curtain falls.
ACT II. The prelude is constructed principally with the Work of Destruction and Cry of Triumph of the Nibelung, together with the Ring.
The curtain rises on the banks of the Rhine again, with a side view of the Hall of the Gibichungs on the right, the entrance of which is open. Towards the right background, mountain paths lead up a rocky slope. On one is an altar-stone to Fricka, and a larger one higher up to’ Wotan, while another to Donner stands to one side. It is night. Hagen with spear and shield sits in a trance against the hall. Suddenly the moon illuminates him, and Alberich appears in front of him, leaning his arms upon Hagen’s knees and asking if he hears. Hagen says he does : what must his slumber learn ? Alberich asks if he still remembers his breeding. Yes, he hates what is happy !
He is then informed that Wotan’s mastery has passed to the Walsung ; the end of the gods is near. The ring must be wrested from its holder, and the world shall belong to Alberich and Hagen. But the curse of the ring cannot affect him who slew Fafner, for he does not value the treasure. (The motive of the Nibelungs, the Ring and its Power.) His words, ” Ich und du, wir erben die Welt” introduce the motiv of Murder (bassoons, clarinets, and strings). Their energies must be directed to undoing the hero ! They will be ruined if the Rhine-daughters once get back the Ring. Hagen swears to regain it : the work is already under way ! (The motive principally used are the Power of the Ring, Call of the Son of the Woods, Announcement of a New Life, Wahalla, Murder, Curse of the Ring, and Bondage.)
Day is dawning, and Alberich’s form and voice gradually fade away, leaving Hagen still gazing blankly before him. The sun rises and reddens the river. The Call of the Son of the Woods (horn) and the Power of the Helm (horns) accompany the entrance of Siegfried, who hails the sleeper. To Loge, Gutrune’s Welcome, and Treachery by Magic, he tells him and Gutrune, whom he summons, how he has fared. He has won Brünnhilde for Gunther, but to Gutrune’s jealous questions he vows she was as far from him as East is from West. The Sword is recalled on trumpets and horns. In the morning he took her down into the vale and delivered her to the waiting Gunther ; and, by the Power of the Helm, preceded them hither !
Hagen sees their approaching sail, and Gutrune goes into the hall, followed by Siegfried, to call her women together for the bridal. Hagen mounts a rock and sounds a great ox-horn to call the vassals together. His ” Hoiho ! ” reproduces the notes of Bondage and ” Waffen, Wain ! ” brings the Call to the Marriage on horns, bassoons, and strings. Distant ox-horns respond, and presently armed warriors hurry in. Their alarm is soon allayed. Hagen orders them to sacrifice oxen to Wotan, a boar to Froh, a goat to Donner, and sheep to Fricka, the protectress of marriage. The men join in a jovial chorus, and welcome Gunther and Brünnhilde, who now land. The Ride accompanies the latter, and is followed by the Call to the Marriage (flutes, oboes, clarinets, and strings), when, on the appearance of Siegfried and Gutrune, Gunther greets his sister and rejoices at the coming double marriage, though the Sword (trumpet) ominously concludes his words.
Then Brünnhilde raises her eyes, and is overwhelmed at the sight of Siegfried vowed to another and oblivious of her-self. The Call of the Son of the Woods, Revenge, Fate, Power of the Helm, Treachery by Magic, Call to the Marriage, Brünnhilde, Ring, Curse of the Ring, Work of Destruction, Gold, Dragon, adoration of the Gold, Fafner, Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, and Bondage speak her thoughts and explain the situation. She staggers; and Siegfried supports her while he points to Gunther as her husband. She sees the ring on his finger. How did he come by it when it was Gunther that wrested it from her ? The latter is too much confused to account for it. Siegfried, lost in contemplation of the ring, only remembers that he won it at Neidhole. Hagen interposes. He tells Brünnhilde that if she gave it to Gunther, then Siegfried must have got it by guile and must suffer. ” Yes,” she cries, ” by wrong beyond the reach of vengeance ! She calls upon the gods for vengeance, while Walhalla thunders on the full orchestra and is followed by Revenge and the Work of Destruction. Gunther tries to calm her, but she waves him off and proclaims that not he but Siegfried is her spouse. The latter denies it : he was true to his oath! She insists that he was not. (Love’s Regret, Heroic Love, Justice of Expiation.)
The vassals are furious, and Gunther and Gutrune appeal to him to. clear himself. A ring is formed, and on Hagen’s spear Siegfried makes oath, may the Spear strike him dead if he failed in his faith ! Murder is heard to mutter beneath his words. Brünnhilde then strides into-. the- ring and seizes the spear-head in. turn, calling it to witness that he lies. Then the vassals call upon Donner to strike; but Siegfried tells Gunther to look to. his wife who is lying away his fame. Woman’s anger soon passes, and someday-she will thank him for the trick by which she was won ! (Bondage, Loge, the Power of the Helm, and the Ring appear.) He turns to the men and women and calls them to the festivities. Let all be merry ! The flute and clarinet sound. the Call to the Marriage, and he throws his arm around Gutrune. and draws her into the hall, while the people follow.
Briinnhilde bewails her lost knowledge. Who– will bring her a sword to cut her bonds ? Her memories and musings are attended by appropriate motive.
Hagen perfidiously sympathizes with. her and offers his help. She jeers at the thought of his puny arm. But Siegfried’s oath will assist the spear, he says. No! Briinnhilde is sure that open fight would be futile. Hagen wants underhand means; does she know of any ? Alas ! she rendered him invulnerable with her spells, all except the back, which of course he would never turn on a foe ! (The Nibelung’s Work of Destruction.)
Hagen turns to the silent and shamed Gunther, whom Brünnhilde’s taunts drive to fury, and. says the shame can be wiped out by the death of the betrayer. (Revenge and Work of Destruction.) . The bond of blood-brotherhood is broken. by Siegfried’s conduct ;- besides, Gunther shall gain the -Ring! Gunther hesitates for the sake of Gutrune (Gutrune’s – Welcome and Freïa); – whereat Briinnhilde curses her. Hagen suggests she need not know : Siegfried can be killed by a boar in a hunt tomorrow !
In a murderous trio, they then decree his death, and Hagen exults at the prospect of success. Rejoice, Alberich Siegfried and Gutrune have appeared at the head of the joyous wedding procession. The Call to the Marriage is sounded on horns by Siegfried and his attendants on the stage, and Gutrune’s Welcome is heard. Gutrune invites Brünnhilde to join them, and Hagen and Gunther force her to do so, notwithstanding her opposition. They proceed to the altars of sacrifice as the curtain falls to the notes of Revenge and Bondage.
ACT III. Four horns open the prelude with the Call of the Sons of the Woods. After a pause of a bar, it is echoed by distant horns, and answered by Gunther’s Hunting behind the scenes, where Hagen’s ox-horn is also heard at the eighth bar. Then the Rhine flows consecutively through all eight horns. The Gold and its Adoration join in, and then the distant calls of the hunt are repeated on the horns. Bondage mutters twice and then the waves of the Rhine murmur with regrets for the Gold.
The curtain rises, and the Rhine-daughters are swimming in circles, bewailing their loss and praying the sun to send them the hero from whom they may regain the Rhine Gold. His horn is heard above, and they dive down to take counsel.
Siegfried appears, fully armed. Where is his lost quarry ? The Nixies appear, and ask, ” Was it the work of a water-maiden ? ” He wants his bear! It ‘s a fit mate for them, he supposes ! What will he give, his Ring? (also Adoration of the Gola). No ! is a bear worth the Dragon (bassoons and bass strings) it cost ? Aha ! Is he so calculating ? They mock him and disappear. He is piqued, and when they rise again to the surface, they may have it. But now they are serious, and tell him to guard it well till he knows its evil. Then let him be glad if they will accept it ! They tell him of the Curse (the Ring, its Power, and Love’s Regret) : unless he restores it now, he will be slain here today !
Where fair words could not avail, threats certainly shall not ! (Treaty, Ring, Fafner, and Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph.) He is obstinate, and they swim away in sorrow that he scorns their warning. To-day a proud woman will be his heir, and she will lend a more willing ear !
Gunther’s Hunting is heard in the distance, and gradually approaches with the Curse of the Ring and Bondage. The Call of the Son of the Woods responds ; and they hail each other, and the party enters. They pile up the game, while Siegfried tells how he went astray and what has happened. Gunther is uneasy when he repeats the prophecy of the Nixies, but Hagen laughs it off. Siegfried is thirsty, so horns are filled and they drink together. Hagen has heard that Siegfried understands the songs of birds ! (Hagen’s Perfidious Friendship, Bondage, Revenge, and now the Bird aid in the musical construction.) Gunther is moody, so Siegfried will cheer him with tales of his youth ! They gather around him ; and, while the orchestra contributes the appropriate motive, he relates his life and adventures down to the slaying of Mime. The Forge ceases then, and Hagen’s Perfidious Friendship is heard on the strings as the latter squeezes the juice of an herb into a drinking-horn and offers it to Siegfried, who drains it to the Power of the Helm, Treachery by Love, Heroic Love, and Brünnhilde, showing how his memory is being restored. He is thus enabled to conclude his story, accompanied by all the motive of love. Gunther is amazed as he hears, ” My kiss awakened the maid : how I burned with the beautiful Brunnhilde’s arms above me ! ” But at that moment two ravens rise from the thicket and circle above Siegfried, and Hagen asks, ” Can you read ravens’ riddles as well ? ”
Siegfried starts up and gazes after Wotan’s birds. The Curse of the Ring mutters, and Hagen adds, ” They counsel me to vengeance ! ” and drives the spear between Siegfried’s shoulders. The bass trumpet and bass strings thunder with the Rhine, and the Guardian of the Sword cries aloud, as Gunther and the men spring towards Hagen. Siegfried raises his shield to crush him, but his strength fails, and he falls. Fate and the Justice of Expiation are heard and Hagen cries, ” I –avenge my oath!” and then turns away and leaves them.
Gunther bends in anguish over the dying Siegfried ; and the men stand sadly around in the deepening twilight. Siegfried opens his eyes and calls upon Brunnhilde, as memories of their first rapturous meeting come back with the harps. He dwells on the delight of her love, while Hail to the World, Fate, Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, Hail to Love, and the Enthusiasm of Love sound in our ears as in his memory. The trombone softly wails with Fate on his last words, and he dies.
The men lift the body and place it on a shield. Gunther walks beside it as the solemn train ascends the slope and the moon breaks forth. Mists arise and shroud the Rhine, as the funeral march is played. It begins softly and expressively with the Race of the Walsungs on horns and tubas, and repeated on bassoons and clarinets ; then the tubas recall the Heroism of the Wâlsungs, in which the horns also join. A few bars later the or anglais – breathes Compassion, which is repeated variously by the clarinets, oboes, and horns, and leads into Love on the oboes. In -a full development of the Race of the Walsungs, the Sword is highly elaborated., Siegfried Guardian of the Sword and the Call of the Son of the Woods appear in full splendour and bring back a memory of Briinnhilde. The march closes darkly with Bondage, and the -mists clear away revealing the interior of the Gibichungs’- Hall.
It is-night and the Rhine glitters beneath the moon. The Curse of the Ring is heard in combination- with Gutrune’s Welcome. The latter enters. The horn gives a broken Call of the Son of the Woods. – Was that his horn ? – She has been disturbed by bad dreams. She thought she heard Grane (the Ride), and finally Brünnhilde’s laughter awoke her !
She calls at the latter’s door, and finally opens it and finds the bed empty (Briinnhilde, bass clarinet). It must have been she that went down to the Rhine!
The distant horn sounds anew a broken Call, but Fate and the Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph mock her. Suddenly the bassoons and bass strings are loud with Revenge in Hagen’s savage voice calling for torches to the notes of Bondage. He enters with ” Awake, Gutrune, and welcome Siegfried.” The disordered mob that throngs in with the bier terrifies her. What is it ? A boar has slain him!
Gutrune screams and casts herself on the bier, while Gunther tries to comfort her. She repulses him; she is sure he had a hand in the tragedy ! Gunther shifts the blame to Hagen, who finally ferociously exults in the deed. He has earned the Ring ! Gunther defends Gutrune’s inheritance, and is slain by Hagen while Fate darkly mutters. Hagen advances to seize the Ring, but the trumpet warns him with the Sword, and the hand of the corpse rises threateningly. Then, while flutes, clarinets, and strings wail with the Fall of the Gods, and then announce the Norms, Brünnhilde enters and bids the tumult cease. Fate and Death conclude her words. Gutrune reproaches her : this is her work ! Brünnhilde loftily silences her (Gutrune’s Welcome) :- she was Siegfried’s wife (Heritage of the World) before Gutrune ! The -latter breaks out into imprecations upon the perfidious Hagen (Treachery by Magic), and then bows herself upon Gunther’s body and remains motionless till the end.
Hagen stands sullenly but watchfully apart, while Brünnhilde sadly contemplates Siegfried’s face. At her command, a pyre is built and dressed with hangings and flowers; and Grane (Ride) is sent for. She recalls the hero’s deeds and proclaims his justification. Fit motive act as commentary. Then she cries to the gods who doomed him to betray even her. Everything is clear to her now ! ” Rest, rest, thou God ! ”
She takes the ring from Siegfried’s finger and signs to the men to place the corpse on the pyre. The motive connected with the Rhine and the Ring re-appear as she calls to the Rhine-daughters that they can have the ring from her ashes after fire has purified it of the Curse. Then she turns and seizes a fire-brand. The trumpets sound the Treaty, and she calls two ravens that rise from the bank to go to Walhall and whisper what they have heard. On the way they must stop at her rock and tell Loge to accompany them, for the Fall of the Gods is at hand. Thus she sets the torch to the walls of Walhall !
She flings the brand into the pyre, which immediately blazes up and the ravens disappear. Grane is brought in to a furious Ride. She tells him he must carry her to Siegfried, for whom she is wild with longing. The Redemption by Love joins the Guardian of the Sword and the leaping Flames. With the Shout of the Walkyries she mounts, and horse and rider plunge into the fire, which seems to invade the whole hall and overflow the orchestra with its motive. Eternal Sleep begins to breathe softly, and the Rhine encroaches on the scene, bringing the Nixies in its waves. Their appearance alarms Hagen. The Curse of the Ring sounds, and he dashes into the waves to seize the ring that the Rhine-daughters have already regained from the smouldering pyre. Woglinde and Wellgunde wind their arms around his neck and drag him down with them, as they swim away, while Flosshilde exultingly holds up the ring as she leads the way. At the same time, a glow flushes the sky and grows broader and more vivid. The spectators watch it in speechless awe, and the curtain falls.
The final music is of marvellous instrumentation. Walhalla, the Rhine, its Daughters, Redemption by Love, Divine Power, and the Guardian of the Sword are intermingled and woven with skill and effect that are little short of miraculous.