What is GöTterdammerung?

Götterdammerung (English: Twilight of the Gods) is the fourth and final opera in German composer Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen. It’s a three-act opera with a prologue and libretto written Wagner himself. The premiere of Götterdammerung took place at the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth on August 17, 1876, as part of the Ring Cycle’s premiere.

The prologue of Götterdammerung takes place on the Valkyrie rock, where Siegfried left off. The rope of fate is woven here the Three Norns, or Fates. They see Valhalla burning and the rope breaks as they tell the story of Wotan’s rise to power, the breaking of his sword, and the end of the World Ash. The Norns make their way down into the earth.

Siegfried and Brünnhilde arrive, and Siegfried presents Brünnhilde with the ring, while she hands over her horse to him. Siegfried must leave to pursue adventure and glory, so she stays on the fire-surrounded rock.

The Gibichungs are meeting as Siegfried travels. Their leader, Gunther, is conversing with his half-brother Hagen. Gunther and his sister Gutrune, according to Hagen, should marry. He tells Gunther of Brünnhilde, who is lying on a rock surrounded fire, and Gutrune of Siegfried, who could be made to love her using a magic potion that would make him forget about other women.

Gutrune gives Siegfried the potion when he arrives. As things stand, he proposes to be Gutrune’s husband and to assist Gunther in finding a wife. When told about Brünnhilde, it’s clear that he has no recollection of her and intends to bring her to Gunther.

Waltraute, Brünnhilde’s sister, arrives and begs for the ring to be given up in order to save Wotan. Brünnhilde, on the other hand, sees the ring as a promise of Siegfried’s love and refuses to give it up. Siegfried’s horn is heard, and he disguises himself as Gunther and arrives. He declares Brünnhilde to be Gunther’s wife and returns the ring to her. With a sword between them, they spend the night in a cave.

The action of Götterdammerung returns to Gibichung hall in Act II, where Siegfried reappears, followed Gunther and Brünnhilde. For the wedding feast, Hagen summons his vassals. When Gutrune and Siegfried enter, Brünnhilde is taken aback and confronts him. Siegfried swears to the story he remembers, which does not include any promise to Brünnhilde. Brünnhilde swears he has told the truth. Gunther, Brünnhilde, and Hagen are left behind as Siegfried and Gutrune enter the wedding feast. Hagen promises to avenge Brünnhilde, and she reveals that Siegfried’s back is exposed. They intend to inform Gutrune that Siegfried died as a result of a boar wound.

On the Rhine’s bank, Act III of Götterdammerung begins. After becoming separated from the hunting party, Siegfried comes across the Rhinemaidens, who ask him for the ring. He agrees to give it up, but after they reveal its curse, he decides to keep it. The remainder of the hunting party arrives.

Siegfried informs his companions that he has seen no game other than three birds who warned him that he would be killed. He tells how he was raised Mime, how he forged the sword, how he killed Fafner, and how he learned to understand birds. Siegfried is able to continue the story after Hagen gives him a potion that restores his memory. He tells how he kissed Brünnhilde awake. Hagen draws Siegfried’s attention to two ravens flying overhead, which symbolize death. Hagen stabs him in the back as he turns to look. Siegfried dies with Brünnhilde’s name on his lips.

The scene shifts to the Gibichungs’ hall, where Gutrune and Brünnhilde appear. Siegfried’s body is brought in Hagen. Gutrune accuses her brother after Hagen tells her that Siegfried was killed a board. Gunther holds Hagen responsible, claiming that he was forced to do so because Siegfried lied. Hagen kills Gunther after he prevents Hagen from taking the ring. Siegfried’s had rises as Hagen tries a second time. Siegfried’s oath is recounted Brünnhilde. Gutrune curses Hagen and attacks Siegfried. Brünnhilde directs the construction of a funeral pyre. She mounts her horse and rides into the flames after lighting the pyre. When the Rhine overflows, Hagen dives into the water in search of the ring, and the Rhinemaidens drag him down into the water. Valhalla begins to burn as the fire rises to the sky. The Gods’ Twilight, Götterdammerung, has arrived.