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The Valkyrie: Page 433
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A point of interest from the musico-dramatic standpoint is that there is a highly unusual and subtle interplay of a variety of motifs heard during this passage, including hints of #60, #81A, #81B, #83, and #87. This is an illustration of the remarkable array of associative musical material that Wagner continually accumulates as this dramatic work proceeds, each new scene introducing new motival material but also drawing upon all that has gone before, in order to create subtly mixed moods of varying shades of emotion, sometimes having the effect of holding two contradictory ideas in mind at once without suffering consciousness of their contradiction, but merely feeling it. There are a plethora of competing, sometimes contradictory impulses in Wotan’s treatment of Bruennhilde here, and Wagner is able to attain a subtlety and specificity of reference, while at the same time maintaining ambiguity and fluidity which resists any sense of finality or rest. This results from the contradiction at the root of Wotan’s endeavour to find, or create, a hero who in defying the gods will befriend them. So Wotan both angrily punishes Bruennhilde, and leaves her free to declare her independence of the gods’ influence, so she can ultimately become the as-yet-unborn Siegfried’s muse of inspiration.

[V.3.2: C]

Wotan now spells out Bruennhilde’s punishment. He will put her to sleep on the mountaintop, leaving her unprotected and vulnerable, so that any man who passes can wake her and win her as his wife. Wotan’s dread sentence, that a onetime Valkyrie (and his favorite daughter) must give up her holy virginity to a man, and what is worse, any man who discovers her asleep, elicits a spirited defense of Bruennhilde from her erstwhile cowardly sister-Valkyries:

The eight Valkyries: (abandoning their former position in their consternation and moving somewhat further down the cliff) (#5?:) Alas! Alas (:#5?)! (#5 vari:) Sister, ah sister (:#5 vari)!

 

Bruennhilde: will you take away all that you ever gave me?

 

Wotan: He who subdues you will take it away! (#5 vari: – [as heard in S.3.2 when Wotan warns Siegfried away from Bruennhilde’s rock, saying his ravens have scared Siegfried’s woodbird guide away?]); [[ #96a embryo voc: ]]) Here on the mountain I’ll lay you under a spell (:#96a embryo voc); [[ #94: ]] in shelterless sleep I’ll shut you fast (:#94); (#21 vari in triplets) the maiden shall fall to the man (#21) who stumbles upon her and wakes her.

 

The eight Valkyries: (coming right down from the cliff and, in anxious groups, surrounding Bruennhilde, who lies half-kneeling in front of Wotan: [[ #95: ]] Stop, o father, stay the curse!

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