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The Story

Wotan craves the ring, but, bound by his own laws, he can’t retrieve it himself. With a mortal woman he has twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde. He hopes Siegmund will become the free agent he needs to take the ring. Separated at birth, the twins meet as adults and fall in love.

Read more… (Contains spoilers)

Background

Die Walküre is the second work and ‘first evening’ of Richard Wagner’s four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, following Das Rheingold. It has become the most performed opera of the cycle, loved and admired for its nuanced and intelligent exploration of complex family entanglements, expressed through music of astonishing power – perhaps nowhere more so than in the glorious music for the incestuous lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde.

Wotan’s voyage of self-discovery and ultimate resignation are at the heart of Keith Warner’s production, created for The Royal Opera in 2005. His great Act II monologue is set in a disastrous ruin of the Valhalla we saw in Das Rheingold – a striking representation of Wotan’s own inner decline and the gods’ incipient twilight. Visual motifs reflect the structure of Wagner’s score, which shows the composer at his most radical and most lyrical.

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On Wikipedia

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), WWV 86B, is a music drama in three acts by Richard Wagner with a German libretto by the composer. It is the second of the four works that form Wagner's cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). The story of Die Walküre is based on the Norse mythology told in the Volsunga Saga and the Poetic Edda. In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one in a group of female figures who decide which soldiers die in battle and which live. Die Walküre's best-known excerpt is the "Ride of the Valkyries". It received its premiere at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater in Munich on 26 June 1870. Wagner originally intended the work to be premiered as part of the entire cycle, but was forced to allow the performance at the insistence of his patron King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It was first presented as part of the complete cycle on 14 August 1876 at Wagner's Bayreuth Festival. The work made its United States premiere at the Academy of Music in New York on 2 April 1877.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article Die Walküre, available under a Creative Commons license.