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Who's Who in the Ring?
Mime the bold, Mime is king!
his cavern workshop near Fafner's lair, Mime complains bitterly
as he toils at an anvil to forge a new sword for Siegfried,
who has grown to manhood.
impotent, hate-filled Nibelung has fashioned many blades
for his ward, but they always broke into pieces when tested.
Though Mime secretly has kept the shattered Nothung, the
magic sword wielded by Siegfried's father, he lacks the
skill to restore its fragments.
he could do so, with Siegfried's help, he would fulfill his dream
of obtaining Fafner's Ring and becoming ruler of the world. A hunting
horn announces the approach of Siegfried, who bounds in with a bear
he has captured, playfully scaring Mime before releasing the animal
to the forest.
for a new sword, Siegfried grasps Mime's latest effort, only
to have the weapon snap like a toy in his hands. To avoid
the headstrong youth's anger, the Nibelung offers kind words
and food, both brusquely rebuffed. At this, Mime whiningly
reminds Siegfried of the long years he has looked after him
and all he has taught him. Siegfried retorts he has never
learned to tolerate the sight of Mime, nor does he know why
he continues to live with him.
Notung, Notung, trusty sword!
do not resemble each other, he says, and grabbing Mime by the throat,
he demands to know who his real parents were. The Nibelung confesses
that years ago he found a woman in distress in the woods and nursed
her as she died giving birth.
Her name was Sieglinde, and the baby's
father had fallen in combat; Siegfried's name is a legacy from his
mother. Moved by the story, Siegfried asks for proof of what he
has been told, at which Mime takes forth the splintered remnants
of the sword Nothung. At once the youth insists the weapon be welded
whole, so he can go forth into the world to seek adventure. Siegfried
runs back into the forest.
Mime, sharpen your wits!
Mime sits dejected, an aged Wanderer (Wotan) appears. Soon
the unwanted guest proposes a battle of wits in which he will
forfeit his head should he lose.
though suspicious, agrees, then proceeds to ask the Wanderer
three questions: what race lives under the earth (the Nibelungs),
on the face of the earth (the giants) and on the cloudy heights
Wanderer answers correctly, then declares that Mime too must answer
three questions, to save his own head: what is the race Wotan mistreats
but loves most (the Wälsungs), what is the sword Siegfried
must use if he is to kill the dragon Fafner (Nothung), and who will
repair the weapon? When Mime cannot answer the last question, the
Wanderer tells him the sword can be forged only by one who has never
known fear - and he leaves the gnome's head as bounty to that person.
distant growls, Mime panics, thinking Fafner is coming, but it is
only Siegfried, eager to wield his father's sword. Mime tries to
find out whether the youth comprehends the meaning of fear. Since
he does not, Mime decides to take him to Fafner's lair, where surely
he will learn. When Siegfried once more orders Mime to finish Nothung,
the Nibelung sobs that he lacks the craft, at which Siegfried repairs
the sword himself, launching into a spirited forging song as he
works. While the youth toils, Mime plots to get rid of him once
the dragon has been killed and the treasure recovered. Siegfried
brandishes the finished sword, splits the anvil with it and rushes
into the forest.
night, Alberich keeps vigil near Fafner's cave, brooding over
his lost treasure, determined to regain the Ring. When the
Wanderer approaches, bathed in eerie light, the Nibelung at
once recognizes him as Wotan. The god assures him that he
no longer cares about the Ring - he is now only an observer
of destiny. He adds that it is Mime whom Alberich should fear,
for Mime wants the gold and brings a valiant young hero to
I came to watch, not to act.
Nibelung is perplexed that his enemy seems to be helping him. Wotan
and Alberich rouse the sleeping Fafner to warn him of approaching
danger, urging him to surrender the Ring, but Fafner only mumbles
he will devour any attacker. God and Nibelung disappear in the shadows.
My throat is well made
to gulp you down!
dawn breaks, sunlight penetrates the dense foliage of the
forest. Mime enters with Siegfried, showing him Fafner's lair.
by the youth, the treacherous gnome hobbles off. Siegfried
stretches on the ground under a lime tree to rest, enchanted
by the murmur of the forest, yearning for the mother he never
in the branches over his head, a Forest Bird warbles a song he wishes
he could understand.
a reed and blowing on it, Siegfried tries to imitate the bird.
Then he raises his silver hunting horn to his lips, inadvertently
awakening Fafner, who rumbles forth from his den.
During the ensuing struggle, Siegfried plunges his sword into
the monster's heart. Dying, Fafner warns that whoever put
Siegfried up to this deed is plotting his death as well.
The dead can tell no tales.
Siegfried draws Nothung from the beast, his fingers are burned by
blood, so he touches them to his lips. The taste of the dragon's
blood enables him to understand the language of the Forest Bird,
who tells him of the Nibelung hoard, the Tarnhelm and all-powerful
Siegfried disappears into the cave to inspect the treasure,
Mime slinks back, only to be confronted by Alberich.
brothers quarrel over the spoils, withdrawing when Siegfried
reappears, carrying proof of his victory - the Tarnhelm, which
he fastens to his belt, and the Ring, which he places on his
the Forest Bird warns Siegfried about Mime, who soon creeps forward,
bearing a poisoned drink. Reading the dwarf's true thoughts, the
youth loses patience with the Nibelung and kills him, as Alberich's
laughter echoes in the distance. While Siegfried rests, lamenting
his solitude, the bird tells of a maiden who sleeps on a fire-encircled
rock - Brünnhilde, a bride who can be won only by a hero who
knows no fear.
youth runs through the forest toward the mountain where she
night, as thunder and lightning threaten a wild mountain
gorge, the Wanderer summons Erda from sleep. Concealing
his identity, he seeks knowledge of the future.
evades the questions, and the god, resigning himself to
Valhalla's doom, bequeaths the world to the redemptive power
of Brünnhilde's love. When Siegfried ventures into
the gorge, the Wanderer encounters his grandson, inquiring
with humor about his exploits and the sword he wears.
responds arrogantly, angering the god, who tries to block his path.
Drawing Nothung, the youth splinters the Wanderer's spear with a
single stroke. Realizing his power has ended, the deity retrieves
the broken pieces, then vanishes as Siegfried scales the mountain.
breaks on the rocky height where
Brünnhilde rests. Reaching
the summit, Siegfried discovers an armed, sleeping figure,
which he assumes to be a man. When he removes the Valkyrie's
shield, helmet and breastplate, however, he finds instead
the first woman he has ever seen.At last sensing fear, he
invokes the spirit of his mother, finally summoning the courage
to kiss the maiden's lips.
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Hail to thee, sun!
Hail to thee, light!
roused from her long slumber, slowly realizes she is not dreaming,
that Siegfried has come. She hails the sunlight and her return
Siegfried tries to embrace her, she starts in alarm, protesting
that earthly passion would destroy her immortality.But she
is mortal, no longer a Valkyrie, and womanly ardor soon replaces
shame and fear.
herself into Siegfried's arms, she bids farewell to memories of
Valhalla, abandoning herself to human love, exulting even in thoughts