- Richard Wagner. Music-drama in three acts. The second day of Der Ring
des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). 1871.
- Libretto by the composer.
- First performance at the Festspielhaus, Bayreuth, on 16th August 1876.
|Mime, a Nibelung ||tenor|
|Alberich, his brother ||bass-baritone|
|The Wanderer (Wotan) ||bass-baritone|
|Fafner, last of the giants, disguised as a dragon ||bass|
|Erda, goddess of Fate ||contralto|
|Brünnhilde, daughter of Erda and Wotan ||soprano|
|Forest Bird ||soprano|
The dwarf Mime works at his forge, grumbling as he makes a sword for Siegfried and hoping to
piece together the sword Nothung, so that Siegfried may kill Fafner and regain the ring, which will
then be Mime's. Mime, who has brought Siegfried up, seeks his love, but the latter must learn his
true parentage, as the son of Sieglinde, who died as he was born. Wotan, disguised as the Wanderer,
wagers his head on three questions from Mime, which he answers, then posing three questions in
turn to Mime, who cannot tell him who will repair the sword Nothung, which will kill the dragon
Fafner. Under suspended sentence of death, Mime tells Siegfried of the sword Nothung, which he
cannot repair, and Siegfried melts the pieces and makes the sword again. Mime, meanwhile, plans
to let Siegfried kill Fafner and then to drug him and take the ring from him. Outside Fafner’s cave,
Alberich and Wotan seek to warn the dragon of impending danger, in return for the treasure. They
are unsuccessful. Siegfried is led by Mime to the cave and, left alone, hears the murmur of the forest
and the singing of a bird, which he cannot imitate. With his horn he rouses and kills the dragon,
whose blood enables him to understand the song of the bird, telling him to beware of Mime and to
take the treasure from the cave and the Tarncap of invisibility. Now understanding Mime’s
murderous thoughts, Siegfried kills him and the forest bird tells him of love and of Brünnhilde. By
her rock, Wotan summons up Erda, whose knowledge he now wills away, understanding that
Siegfried must wake Brünnhilde, who will save the world. Siegfried meets the Wanderer, Wotan,
and with his sword breaks the latter's spear and power. He makes his way through fire to the rock
and wakens the sleeping Brünnhilde, who gives up Valhalla and the gods for love of the mortal hero,
her love putting an end to her knowledge.
Siegfried, the third music-drama of the tetralogy, again weaves together the leit-motifs associated
with the characters and ideas in the work. The opening Prelude to the first act foreshadows Mime's
complaints, while that to the second act combines motifs associated with Fafner and those of the ring
and the curse Alberich had put on it. The third act opens with music evoking the wandering of
Wotan and his fate. There is an orchestral version of the so-called Forest Murmurs, as Siegfried
rests under a linden near Fafner's cave. This last may be heard also as a vocal excerpt, others of
which may include the final scene between Siegfried and Brünnhilde.