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Siegfried – Richard Wagner

by Luca

The prelude opens with a soft tremolo on the drums and Reflection, on the bassoons. Muted cellos bring in Wotan’s Rage, and the violas recall the “Amassing of the Treasure.” Then for a few bars, the violas and ‘cellos change parts with these two motive, while the cor anglais and bassoons give forth Bondage. Then come the Forge, on drums and cellos, the Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph, the Ring (clarinets, and repeated variously on cor anglais, horns, and clarinets, and oboes and bassoons). Next the Dragon with changed rhythm appears on the ‘cellos, and immediately afterwards the presence of the Sword is softly announced on the bass trumpet. Wotan’s Rage at once returns on the muted strings in company with the Forge, and the curtain rises.
We are in the forest smithy of Mime, formed out of a natural cave. It has two entrances into the forest, right and back. The forge stands against the wall at the back. Mime is at the anvil, hammering at a blade. At length, in extreme annoyance, he stops his work. It is useless, he can make swords fit for giants, but the boy smashes them like toys. He could not serve Nothung so (Sword, on horn), but Mime cannot weld the fragments. If he only could, Siegfried should slay Fafner (Dragon on tubas) and regain the Nibelung’s hoard for Mime. And he returns to his song and his fruitless toil in vexation.
The Call of the Son of the Woods, on violins and cellos, introduces Siegfried, in forest garb and with a silver horn on a chain at his girdle. He comes boisterously in, bringing a roped bear which he sets at the terrified Mime, who runs behind the forge and is chased all over the place by Siegfried and the bear. The double bass growls with the brute, as Siegfried tells Bruin to hunt for the sword, and, when Mime produces it, turns him out into the forest again, holding his own sides with laughter. He explains that he got tired of Mime and brought home a chance bear (growl again on the ‘cellos) for company, and to hasten Mime’s forging. Mime says no keener one than this could be desired. Siegfried Guardian of the Sword (bass trumpet and horn, repeated a fourth higher three bars later) tries it, and shatters it on the anvil.
His disgust and upbraidings introduce the Love of Life (strings, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, and horns). Mime is always prating of giants and battles and daring deeds, and yet he can’t make a decent sword ! Siegfried would put the old knave out of the way, only he is n’t worth the trouble ; and he throws himself down on a stone seat in a temper.
Mime whines at the ingratitude he receives, but his charge turns his back on him and lies facing the wall. Then Mime tries to tempt him with food, which he knocks out of the dwarf’s hand. Let him eat his own messes! Mime pretends to be hurt, and recites all he has done for Siegfried by rearing him from infancy and slaving for him.
Siegfried turns and scrutinizes his face. Why is it he loathes the very sight of Mime ? When he goes into the forest, he is delighted with the birds, beasts, and fishes (here there is a suggestion of the Rhine on the strings). Why does he prefer them to Mime ?
Before the latter can answer, the ‘cellos (four parts) anticipate him with Filial Love, some notion of which he tries to explain and instil. Very well, but Siegfried has noticed that the animal world exists in couples. Where is Mime’s mate ? This makes the dwarf peevish, but his tormentor insists on knowing how he created him. The perplexed Mime insists that he was both father and mother.
He lies ! Siegfried has noticed that animals resemble their parents. In brooks (Rhine, clarinet) he has seen his face, and it is no more like Mime’s than a fish is like a toad! (The hopping of the toad and the gliding of the fish are illustrated on the viola.)
Suddenly Siegfried springs up and takes his loving nurse by the throat. He shall tell who his parents really are ! Filial Love in earnest accompanies his demand on the oboe, and is taken up by the clarinets, cor anglais, and horn. The strangling Mime motions compliance, and, as soon as he can speak, he says the ungrateful youth need not call him kin. As he pauses before telling the story, the bass clarinet prompts him with the Race of the Wälsungs, and the bassoons in three parts follow with the Compassion that first drew them together.
Mime once heard a woman in woe in the wood (again the Race of the Wülsungs) and Compassion led him to shelter her. (The bass clarinet again softly moans with the Race of the Wälsungs.) She died. The horns burst forth with Siegfried Guardian of the Sword. Siegfried is touched. So his mother died at his birth ! Mime goes on to say that she entrusted her babe to him, and then he drops into his ” complaint ” as he does with every speech. She called the boy Siegfried (Guardian of the Sword, horn). To further questions, Siegfried learns his mother’s name, but Mime does not know his father’s (Race of the Walsungs, cor anglais, etc.). Mime is such a liar that Siegfried wants some proof of the tale, so the former brings out the shattered Sword (horn) and tells its history. Siegfried orders him to make it whole before dark or he will break his neck. (The Sword appears many times on oboes, horns, and clarinets.) What does he want with it ? Having no kin nor home, he wants to get away from Mime and wander free ; and he darts away into the wood, while Mime vainly tries to call him back. (His Desire to Travel, on oboes, clarinets, horns, bassoons, and strings, is first heard at his words, ” Flieg ich von hier fluthe davon.”)
Mime is in despair ! Who will now go to Fafner’s den if Siegfried departs ; and how can he weld the sword ? Nibelung craft is powerless; and he sinks in distress upon a stool behind the anvil. His perplexities are accompanied by the Ring, Forge, Reflection, Dragon, and Love’s Regret.
The horns and trumpets announce Wotan the Wanderer as an old man, in a blue cloak and a big-brimmed hat that covers one of his eyes, enters. For a staff he carries a spear. He asks the startled dwarf for hospitality, and receives a churlish refusal. However, he insists ; ” he is a wanderer and knows all secrets,” and presently he sits down by the hearth, saying he will wager his head against any question Mine may ask. The trombones twice con-firm the Treaty, and the oboes, cor anglais, horns, and bassoons repeat it, when, to get rid of him, Mime, after Reflection, on bassoons and tubas, decides to ask three questions. (Forge, strings; Treaty, bass clarinets; and Ring, wood-wind. These motive precede each question.)
Who dwell in the depths of the earth ? ” That is easily answered, and the Forge, Ring, Alberich’s Power, Adoration of the Gold, Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph, and Amassing of the Treasure accompany his reply.
He is evidently well acquainted with Niebelheim; but ” Who dwell upon the face of the earth ? ” As the Wanderer tells of Riesenheim, the orchestra supports him with the Giants, Power of the Ring, and Dragon.
Mime meditates awhile and then asks, ” Who dwell among the cloudy peaks ? ” The deep brass softly tells of the splendour of Walhalla, the Wanderer recites the power of Wotan and his runes (Treaty, brass) and spear. At his words, ” Mit seiner Spitze sperrt Wotan die Welt,” the trombones and tubas reveal Divine Power. The Wanderer involuntarily strikes the earth with his spear as he ends, and distant thunder mutters and the trombones and trumpets roar with the Treaty. Mime is terrified as he recognizes Wotan the Wanderer (brass), and tries to get rid of him. But he has to submit to three questions also, and now his own head is at stake. The Forge and Bondage support his excuses, and his cringing appears on Grovelling Mime on the bassoons, violas, and strings.
‘What is the name of the race that Wotan loves and persecutes?
Mime knows that; and his answer reproduces the Race and the Heroism of the Walsungs (horns and bassoons), as well as their present representative, Siegfried Guardian of the Sword (violas).
So far so good! Now, Mime is rearing Siegfried to kill Fafner; what sword will do the deed ?
Thereupon, Whining Mime, who now is deeply interested, sketches the career of Nothung, which alone shall slay the dragon. The Forge (violas) and the Sword (trumpets) are employed.
The Wanderer compliments his wisdom. The last question he puts is, ” Who will weld the shattered halves of Nothung ? ”
If Mime were as wise as the strings, which persistently mock him with the Love of Life, he might name the successful smith. He starts up in extreme agitation ; is not that the question that is always tormenting him ? Who shall succeed where so consummate a craftsmen as he fails ?
Wotan the Wanderer rises. He answered three questions, not one of which touched what the wily smith wanted most to know, and now his head is forfeit ! The Treaty (trombones, bassoons, bass trumpets) loudly proclaims it. Now the valiant destroyer of the Dragon (bass tubas) learns that the Sword (trumpets) shall be made whole only by him who has never known fear, and to whom also Mime’s head shall fall. The horns and bassoon, strengthened by bass trumpet and trombones, state that hero to be Siegfried Guardian of the Sword.
With mocking laughter the Wanderer departs, leaving Mime quite stunned. The hissing scorn of Loge was audible on the strings under the final words, and now the flames increase and seem to fill the forest with their roar. To Mime’s disordered fancy, they take the form of a fiery Dragon approaching with open jaws; and, shrieking with terror, he falls behind the anvil, while the trumpet mocks him with the Sword.
Desire to Travel (oboes) and Love of Life (strings) return with Siegfried, who is calling for his sword. When he finds Mime, who is muttering ” Only he who never feared !” and meditating on the Wanderer’s words, he asks what he is doing there. Mime gradually collects himself. He is looking for fear ! It is a precious quality that Siegfried lacks and must learn ! Siegfried is curious to be instructed. Mime asks whether he has ever trembled at the mysterious noises of the forest ; and the music tries to shake his nerves with daunting suggestions of brooding horror. No ! he would like to ; can Mime help him ? Mime knows of a terrible Dragon. Fafner in his den will teach Siegfried ! He dwells in Neidhole, quite near ! Siegfried wants to go at once. Where is the sword ? Mime confesses his impotence. Siegfried is disgusted. He will try to forge it himself, in spite of Mime’s discouragements.
He heaps up the fire and blows it, and begins to file the fragments into dust. He will begin from the beginning ! (The strings imitate and accompany the filing.) Mime is dumbfounded. He foresees success, and understands the Wanderer’s words now. He realizes his own danger. His head falls to Siegfried Guardian of the Sword (bassoon and bass clarinet), unless the latter learns fear from Fafner (Dragon, bassoon and bass-clarinet). None else can gain for Mime the Ring (cor anglais and clarinets).
Siegfried wants to know the name of the Sword (trumpet). On learning it, he breaks out into a song to Nothung as he works, while various instruments reproduce the filing, the crackling flames, and the sparks he speaks of; and the violins and violas blow the bellows.
Mime mutters, ” He forges the sword and Fafner will fall ! ” Craft is needed. When weary with the fight, Mime will refresh him with a drugged drink that shall plunge him into Eternal Sleep (bassoon and bass clarinet), and his precious Sword (bass trumpet) with him, leaving Ring and Gold to the dwarf ! Aha ! clever Wanderer, Mime is not such a fool after all ! And he springs up to prepare the brew.
Siegfried has melted the sword-dust and now pours it into a mould, which he plunges into the water, when it loudly hisses on the high violins and other strings. He takes up his song again, Nothung must stiffen, and bathe again (Rhine, horns, cor anglais, clarinets, etc.), after being heated ; and he puts it back into the fire. The violins and violas again blow the bellows.
Siegfried now for the first time notices Mime, who is setting his pot on the edge of the fire, and asks what he is doing. His question, ” Was schaft der Topel dort mit dem Topf?” forms the Casting of the Steel (clarinets and strings). He explains that, being shamed as a smith, he must take to cooking. Mime makes such bad swords that Siegfried means to avoid his cookery also ! He lays the glowing metal on the anvil, and hammers it to the ” Song of the Forge,” while Mime finishes and pours his concoction into a flask. The force of the blows of the hammer is regulated by the needs of the rhythm. Then he plunges the blade into the water again, and laughs at its loud hissing, again imitated on strings and bassoons. Then, while the hilt is being fitted, Mime promises himself the Ring and gloats over the power it will bring him. The motive recalled by his words are curiously distorted to suit his form and nature, especially the Sword, on piccolo and flute. He exults, ” Mime, the hero, is King ! ” and he can’t hear how the whole orchestra is mocking him !
Siegfried is completing his task. He sings on to Nothung, who failed the father and is restored by the son. Nothung shall work havoc with evil-doers ! Look, Mime ! Look, smith ! This is how Siegfried’s sword cuts ! And, to Mime’s stupefaction, while the horns, bassoons, and strings triumphantly utter the Call of the Son of the Woods, and the entire orchestra is jubilant, Siegfried cleaves the anvil with a mighty stroke, and the curtain falls.
ACT II. The prelude tells us what to expect. It opens with the roaring of Fafner (contrabass-tuba, violas, cellos, double basses, and drums). Then comes the Ring (bassoons, horns, clarinets), the Curse of the Ring (strings), the Nibelung’s Work of Destruction (strings), the Nibelung’s Cry of Triumph, and the Treaty (violins). The Nibelung’s Work of Destruction is still active on the bass strings as the curtain rises. It is night; to the left a rocky wall shows through the forest. The ground rises to a small platform in the centre of the scene and then sinks again. This ridge half obscures the mouth of a cave in the background. Alberich is leaning against the wall, keeping watch over Neidhole. A storm-wind suddenly rises, and the Ride is heard on wood, brass, and strings. What light flashes through the wood like a wild horse ? Is Fafner’s slayer coming at last ? The bassoon moans with the Distress of the Gods. The light fades and the gust dies away.
The Wanderer enters and is hailed by I/Valhalla on horns and bassoons. He halts opposite Alberich, and a moon-beam breaks through the cloud and illuminates his face. Alberich immediately flames up with Revenge (bass wood and strings). He reviles the Wanderer, who explains that he is here to heed, not to act ; who would bar Wotan the Wanderer (softly on strings, trombones, trumpets, bassoons, clarinets, and horns) ? Alberich threatens him, and goes over the old ground, while we hear Wotan’s Rage, Treaty with the Giants (bassoons and horns), Loge, the Curse of the Ring and the Nibelung’s Work of Destruction.
Alberich taunts Wotan with rearing heroes to do work he cannot do himself, and is warned that Mime is more to be feared, for he is making a tool of Siegfried. Then will not Wotan interfere ? No ! Let him have the ring who wins it ! Why not warn Fafner of his approaching death and induce him to ransom himself with the hoard ? There-upon Wotan calls to Fafner to awake, while Alberich wonders whether Wotan will really be so mad as to let him have the ring.
Fafner sleepily answers. Who calls ? Alberich tells him that a hero is about .to attack him. Fafner says the hero shall satisfy his appetite ! But it is a mighty youth ! (Sword, on the horn.) Alberich wants Fafner to relinquish the Ring (clarinets and strings) and save himself. The latter yawns, “I lie and guard it; let me sleep !”
Wotan laughs at the dwarf’s discomfiture. ” What will happen, will happen,” he says, while the bass strings thrice repeat the Norns. He will leave him a clear field ” Beware of Mime! ” He disappears into the wood, while the bassoon repeats the Norns, and a storm-wind and the Ride and a reminiscence of Wotan’s Song of Farewell carry him away, while Alberich pursues him with malevolent threats. The Curse of the Ring, the Work of Destruction, and Fafner conclude the scene.
The dawn has been gradually breaking, and Alberich hides in a cleft of the rock as Siegfried and Mime enter. It grows lighter till only Neidhole is in the shadow. Love of Life, reminiscences of the song of the bellows, Brünnhilde’s Sleep, and the Forge enter with them.
Siegfried sits down under a great lime-tree. If he can’t learn the lesson of fear here, he will leave Mime anyway !
Mime sits down opposite him, keeping an uneasy eye on the cave, and, to some instrumental figures of Loge and the roaring of Fafner, tries to terrify him with a description of the latter. His jaws and tail and venom will not frighten Siegfried ; he will plunge Nothung into his heart ! If that ‘s all Mime can teach him of fear, he had better get out! He impatiently gets rid of the hateful smith.
The forest that awoke with the dawn has gradually become audible with the voices of nature in the orchestra. The Murmurs of the Forest, softly moving on the ‘cellos and double basses, delight him as he casts himself down again and says how happy he is that the hideous dwarf is not his father. He wonders what his parents were like. (The Race of the Wälsungs, Filial Love, and Freia.) The thought of his mother, who died at his birth, saddens him. Suddenly, amid the other forest noises, he hears the songs of birds (oboes, flutes, and clarinets). One especially delights him (The Bird). He once heard that their language might be understood ! What is this bird saying to him ? He cuts a reed with his sword and makes a pipe, with which he fruitlessly tries to imitate the song. (The cor anglais on the stage plays his notes.) He laughingly acknowledges his failure, as the Bird (clarinet) begins again to the Murmurs on the muted strings. But he can pro-duce another sound that befits the forest ! He throws away the reed and sounds repetitions of his Call of the Son of the Woods and Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, pausing between the two and looking inquiringly at the bird. Before he has ended, there is a response from an entirely different quarter. The tubas respond with the Dragon, and Fafner issues from the cave, yawning deeply. He is surprised to see the youth who saucily accosts the beast who can talk when the bird cannot. Fafner was going for water and has found meat ! Siegfried defies him, and they go into action. The Sword (horns and trombones) is grasped, and in spite of the venom Fafner spouts, and his various manoeuvres, it sounds triumphantly on trumpets and trombones ; and, after several swift lunges on the strings, it finds his heart.
Amid the groaning of the bassoons and bass strings, Fafner asks who prompted the murderous deed. Siegfried scarcely knows who he- is (Guardian of the Sword, trumpet) : Fafner brought it on himself ! Then the dying Dragon tells of the departed power of the Giants (bass strings) and how they gained it. The Work of Destruction, Ring, its Curse and the Son of the Woods are heard during his tale. He warns his victor of the danger attending the possession of the hoard. Finally, as the horn proclaims Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, Fafner learns his name, utters it with his last breath, and dies. He sinks on the bass strings, and his motiv fails through four bars on the tubas and drums, and expires with him.
Siegfried says the dead cannot reveal anything : now his Sword (brilliant flourish on trumpet and trombone) must enlighten him. Through the returning Murmurs of the Forest that the fight had stilled, the Bird trills again on the flute, as he raises to his lips his hand that burns like fire with a drop of Fafner’s blood. Thoughtfully he stands for a moment and then he starts, for the dragon’s blood has turned the warbling into speech. In the linden branches above, the bird is chanting (supported by harmonics on the violas and ‘cellos and by the muted violins), “Siegfried now owns the Nibelung’s hoard. It lies in the cave. The Tarnhelm will lead to great deeds and the Ring will rule the world for him.” He thanks the bird for the counsel, and enters Neidhole.
Mime slinks in with caution as to Fafner, and Alberich leaves his cleft and watches his brother, who, seeing the dead dragon and no Siegfried, is about to enter the cave. Alberich interposes, and they quarrel over the booty, each claiming it. ” Who was it that robbed the Rhine and gave the spell to the Ring ? ” ” Yes ! but who forged the Tarnhelm ? ” Mime presently proposes to share with Alberich and take the helm, but the latter is too wary. A nice sleep his would be ! Mime expects Siegfried to take the gold only, but the latter now approaches, thoughtfully contemplating both Ring and Tarnhelm, and they both retire to their hiding-places. (The Ring, Gold, and its Adoration come with him.) He halts under the tree : he will wear the treasures as mementos of his victory ! The Murmurs return, and the bird sings (as before) that Siegfried should beware of Mime. The burn of the blood will help him to discern his treachery ! The clarinet softly breathes the Race of the Wälsungs above the continuing Murmurs.
Mime now approaches, wondering whether the Wanderer can have informed Siegfried of the virtues of the treasure. He asks if the latter has yet found fear. No ! ” But the dragon is dead ! ” Yes, but worse wretches remain : Siegfried hates him who prompted the deed !
Mime employs his deceitful Complaint to cajole Siegfried, but to no purpose. At last he offers him a refreshing draught, and will hold his sword and helm while he drinks it ! Siegfried would like to know its ingredients ! Finally, Mime importunately thrusts the horn under his very nose and chuckles. The indignant trumpet is loud with the Sword, and Siegfried furiously strikes the dwarf dead with a blow, while the mocking laughter of Alberich is heard, and Reflection (wood-wind) and the Forge (strings) fill the pause.
Mime can now have the hoard and guard it for himself ! Siegfried drags his corpse into the cave (Forge), and then rolls Fafner’s body and stops up the mouth. They may hold it, Now he is hot and weary, and again sits under the tree (the Bird, Filial Love, and the Forge) while the Murmurs return. He calls to the bird and tells of his lonely lot ; cannot the bird help him to a companion ?
The Bird answers that on a fire-beset height (Flames’ Spell) sleeps Brünnhilde (Brunnhilde’s Sleep), whom he may win for a wife. He leaps up eagerly ; can he awaken her ? (Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, oboes, cor anglais, etc.) Briinnhilde can only be awakened by him to whom fear is unknown. Well, Fafner could not teach it ; perhaps Briinnhilde can ! Who will lead ?
The Bird flutters above him, and he hastens exultingly after it.
ACT III. The prelude begins with the Ride on violins and violas, and the Norns on bassoons, bass clarinets, bass tubas, and bass strings. The Distress of the Gods is al-most indistinguishable from the Norns here, clearly telling of Wotan’s plight and Erda’s presence. The bass instruments take up the Rhine at the 11th bar, and presently Wotan’s Rage (strings), the Fall of the Gods (oboes and clarinets), and Alberich’s Power are heard. As the curtain rises, the thunder-machine behind the scenes roars, and lightning flashes. It is night, and we are at the foot of a steep rocky slope in which there is a kind of crypt. The fury of the elements somewhat abates, and Eternal Sleep appears, Fate sounds, and the Wanderer enters. The trombones proclaim the Treaty, and then, with the trumpets, the Announcement of a New Life. Wotan the Wanderer joins the above solemn motive in awaking Erda from her stony slumber. At his call, a blue haze illumines the cavern, and Erda rises from the depths. Her hair and robes glimmer mysteriously : she looks as if covered with frost. Who calls her, and what does he want? He wants knowledge, and she alone knows ! Why not go to the watchful Norris? (violins). Why not make use of Brünnhilde ? Then he tells her of the latter’s fault and fate. (The Ring, Love’s Regret, Walhalla, the Nibelung’s Work of Destruction, Wotan’s Farewell, etc.) Erda is reproachful. She cannot help him ! Let him reap as he has sown Let her sleep again and be eased of his sight !
Before freeing her from the spell, she shall know his will ! The end of the gods no longer grieves him ; indeed, he will help it forward. Then flutes, oboes, clarinets, horns, bassoons, and bass strings join in proclaiming the Heritage of the World, which the Wanderer once devoted to the Nibelung, but now to the Walsung who has gained the Ring and will wed Erda’s daughter to the downfall of the gods. (Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, the Sword, Walhalla, Power of the Ring, Flight, and Love.) Erda may sink therefore to her Eternal Sleep (soft wood-wind and brass) ; Siegfried is approaching even now ! The light fades as she disappears, and, while pale moonlight illumines the scene, the storm entirely subsides. The Bird flies in, the ‘cello imitating its flight. Suddenly it is terrified, and the instruments illustrate its wild flutterings till it disappears.. Then Siegfried enters ; where has it gone ? The Wanderer accosts him. Who calls ? Perhaps some one who can direct him ! Their colloquy, in which Siegfried tells all about himself and his quest, includes the Bird, Fafner, the Forge, Race of the Walsungs, and Love of Life. Siegfried in turn questions his impertinent questioner, and consequently we have Wotan the Wanderer, his Rage, Walhalla, and the Treaty. Meanwhile Siegfried’s words bring in his Guardian of the Sword, the Bird, and the Race of the Walsungs. Siegfried threatens the Wanderer for barring the way the bird was following when it disappeared. It suddenly grows dark again, and Wotan’s Rage breaks out. The bird fled before the Lord of the Ravens ! Woe to him they hunt! Siegfried shall not proceed ! Indeed ! and who forbids ? (Treaty, trombones.) He who guards the rock and laid the sleeper there ! The Ride, Loge, all the motive of fire, and Eternal Sleep appear. He raises his spear and points to the crest of the rock where the, flames are leaping.
Siegfried is determined to advance : the fire has no terrors for him. Then the Wanderer’s outstretched spear must stay him ! (Treaty, trombone.) Siegfried’s sword was once shattered against it, and shall be again !
So Siegfried has found his father’s foe ! He cleaves the spear with a mighty stroke, while the trombones again sound the Treaty in a shattered rhythm that halts and sinks from fortissimo to pianissimo. Lightning flashes and thunder roars, the flames on the distant rock spring up more brightly, while the Wanderer disappears, confessing his impotence to hold Siegfried. The Fall of the Gods and Love’s Regret wail, the flames leap and roar on the violins and violas, and the Bird jubilantly warbles. A sea of flame comes rolling down the slope, and Siegfried exults at the near prospect of a bride. He sets his horn to his lips and blows his Call of the Son of the Woods as he plunges forward and disappears. Here occurs some marvellous instrumentation. On the same page, we find interwoven Adoration of the Gold, Call of the Son of the Woods, Flames’ Spell, Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, Bird, and Loge, closely followed by Eternal Sleep and Brünnhilde’s Sleep. Harps, triangle, and glockenspiel join in. The horn gradually sounds more distant as the scene changes, and then approaches again till, as the flames clear away, we see under a bright blue sky Brünnhilde’s rock as left by Wotan at the close of Die Walküre.
The harp softly throbs with the magic of the surroundings, the bass clarinet gently breathes with Brünnhilde’s Sleep, one respiration of which passes to the double bass, and the trombone faintly murmurs with Fate, and repeats it to a striking solo passage on the first violin, full of the allurements of Freia. Then comes Fate again, the Adoration of the Gold, and the Bird.
Siegfried halts on the height and gazes about him in won-der. (Love’s Fascination, clarinets, etc.) He sees the horse in his rocky stall. Is it the fire that still dazzles his eyes yonder ? He approaches. No ! it is the glint of armour ! He raises the shield and sees, as he thinks, the face of a man, though the orchestra has brought back the Ride and Wotan’s Farewell. The helmet must be heavy, he thinks, so he takes it off; and long flowing locks escape, to his amazement. He listens to her laboured breathing, and tries to loosen her cuirass, but cannot. ” Come, my Sword!” (horn), also Siegfried Guardian of the Sword (clarinet). He cuts the rings down the side, and a form in woman’s robes is revealed. ” That is no man ! ” Love’s Fascination is deepening. He is terrified; his senses totter; he calls on his mother. The Race of the Wàlsungs mingles with Brünnhilde’s Sleep, Freïa, and Fate. He bows his head on her breast in long silence. How awaken her? Her lips tempt a kiss. ” Awake, holy maid ! ” and he presses his lips to hers.
Her eyes open, and they gaze long at one another. She sits up, and harps solemnly sound as she gazes about her.
Then her voice rises in Hail to the World! She salutes the sunlight after the darkness of sleep and dreams, to notes that flash and fall like dew-drops from the strings. Then, with the very motiv of Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, she asks who has awakened her. He tells his name, and ex-plains how he came there, while the horns thrice repeat the same motiv. She repeats her salutation to the world and the gods, accompanied by lovely arpeggios. Siegfried responds, ” Hail to the mother who made me a man,” and their voices mingle in a rapturous duet (Hail to Love, oboes, clarinets, violas, and ‘cellos) of praise to the powers that have brought them together. The ‘cellos and double basses then recall the Race of the Walsungs, and, during a pause of six bars, the full orchestra announces the Enthusiasm of Love. Then she tells him how long she has loved him, guarding him while yet unborn. So his mother was only sleeping for a little ! She smiles at his simplicity : he will see his mother no more ! Brünnhilde is himself as soon as he confesses his love ; and her knowledge is his !! She has always loved him.
He wants to embrace her, but she gently keeps him off. She notices Grane quietly browsing ; Siegfried awoke him also ! Her shield that sheltered heroes and her helm also lie at her feet. They protect her no more ! Her shorn mail leaves her stripped of her strength ! She is sad, and Siegfried grows even more passionate. She recalls her holy estate in Walhall (seven horns). She bewails her lost wisdom and knowledge, and is greatly troubled as she covers her eyes with her hands. He gently draws them away : darkness no longer befits her ! (The dialogue is supported by the Heritage of the World, the Enthusiasm of Love, Hail to Love, the Announcement of a New Life, Wotan’s Rage, the Ride, the Curse of the Ring, and Bondage.)
As she tells him she was immortal, though always loving him, and prays him to leave her and lay not waste her rest, we hear Peace softly on the strings. Her appeal, ” Siegfried, herrlicher Hort der Welt,” also given entirely to the strings, forms the motiv of Siegfried Treasure of the World.
He is not to be denied. Brünnhilde must awake and be his ! He embraces her, and she yields and confessés her responsive passion. Fate, Brünnhilde’s Sleep, the Dragon, the Ride, Siegfried Guardian of the Sword, the Bird, the Shout of the Walkyries and the Enthusiasm of Love appear, and finally Brünnhilde casts away all hesitation in a finale of the two voices. The Decision to Love, given to horns and strings, falls on her words, ” zu Grunde gehn.” Away with Walhall and its towers ; farewell, gods and greatness ! Norns, unravel the rope of fate ! Hasten, dusk of the gods with their annihilation ! Siegfried is Brünnhilde’s star now and ever ! He joins her in words of burning enthusiasm ; and Hail to Love, the Guardian of the Sword, and the Enthusiasm of Love add fire to their rapture.