Siegfried has awoken Brünnhilde from a deep sleep and they have fallen in love. Siegfried gives her the magic ring in token of his love, but they are soon caught up in events beyond their control.
Götterdämmerung was Richard Wagner’s starting point in writing the Ring cycle: the other three operas provide background to the central event of Siegfried’s death, which first inspired the composer. It took Wagner 26 years to complete Götterdämmerung and it had its premiere in 1876, at the first performance of the complete cycle at Bayreuth. Wagner brings the Ring to a close with music of great power and complexity, bringing together leitmotifs from throughout the cycle with new material.
Götterdämmerung moves from the mythical landscape of the previous operas to a world more akin to our own, as Siegfried journeys down the Rhine to the deceitful world of the Gibichungs. The impending fall of the gods is reflected in the blackened, apocalyptic landscape of Act III, in which the ageing and lonely Rhinedaughters plead for the return of their gold in sensual melodies. The stirring music of Siegfried’s funeral march and Brünnhilde’s epic immolation scene bring the opera to a dramatic conclusion. By its end, the world order will have been restored – but at a devastating cost.
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