Brünnhilde sends Siegfried off to explore the world. At the Gibichung
castle, where Gunther and Gutrune have agreed with Hagen (their
half-brother, whose father is Alberich) to give Siegfried a drink that
will make him fall in love with Gutrune and forget Brünnhilde, all works
as planned. Siegfried is willing with the help of a magic helmet to win
Brünnhilde for Gunther. The helmet will allow him to look like Gunther.
Brünnhilde, back at her mountain home, refuses the plea of a sister to
give up the ring given to her by Siegfried. Siegfried, disguised as
Gunther, comes through the flames around her home, takes the ring from
Brünnhilde and claims her for Gunther. When the true Gunther takes her
back to the Gibichungs and she sees Siegfried, who does not know her,
Brünnhilde’s rage knows no bounds. Siegfried swears his honesty on
Hagen’s spear, and she swears that this spear will avenge her. She and
Hagen then convince Gunther to plan Siegfried’s death. The next day at a
hunt Siegfried tells his life story; Hagen gives him a drink that
restores his memory. When he sings of Brünnhilde, Hagen stabs him in the
back, claiming to avenge Siegfried’s treachery. When Brünnhilde sees
the body, she resolves to end the gods and return the ring to the Rhine.
She plunges into Siegfried’s funeral pyre, and the flames burn Valhalla
and the gods. The ring is restored to the Rhine, and her sacrifice has
begun the world afresh.
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2005 © Chris Bennion