A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Siegfried: Page 661
Go back a page
661
Go forward a page

Wotan now accuses Siegfried of a hubris which, if left unchecked, could result in catastrophe for both of them. Wotan is accompanied not only by #81, {{ but also by what sounds very like a variant of #23 }}, as he tells Siegfried that though he’s well disposed to him, Siegfried presents himself as being excessively exalted and glorious. Siegfried, Wotan says, should not arouse his wrath lest it destroy the both of them. At the end of this passage Wotan again sings this apparent variant of #23 as he confesses the true motive behind his sudden revulsion toward Siegfried, for he notes that he who wakens and wins Bruennhilde would make Wotan powerless forever. But of course Wotan told both Alberich and Erda that he was content to lose power to whoever wins the Ring, and to leave Siegfried to his own devices and not interfere in his behalf. Now, however, Wotan exhibits a sudden, instinctive reaction against the inevitable, and a perhaps perverse jealousy toward Siegfried, in whom, after all, Wotan lives again.

{{ The implication of #23’s presence within these two related dramatic contexts – if it can be confirmed in the score - is obvious }}: in R.2 and R.4 #23 represented the domestic tranquility of Valhalla which Fricka hoped would sustain Wotan’s fidelity to her and to the conservative values she represents, but now it appears to represent the new Valhalla of art which, unlike religion (the old Valhalla of the gods), will not stake a claim on the power of truth (the Ring), and will thus be powerless. And, also unlike the old Valhalla, within whose confines Fricka expected Wotan to find satisfaction without seeking power in the outside world, Siegfried the artist-hero will only visit Bruennhilde within her protective ring of fire when he needs to draw inspiration from her so he can create, and present to an audience, redemptive works of art. And what is more, Siegfried will eventually betray Bruennhilde for the sake of another woman, recalling Fricka’s accusation in R.2 that Wotan is guilty of infidelity whenever his desire for change draws him away from the domestic tranquility of Valhalla. #23’s great symbolic significance as a hallmark of the Valhallan (religious) legacy that the artist-hero Siegfried inherits from Wotan is proved by its prominence during the first minutes of the following scene, during which it will express Siegfried’s aesthetic arrest after he has passed through Loge’s ring of fire and has climbed to the top of Bruennhilde’s peak, where he can survey all around him. There it acquires a paradisal quality of utmost sublimity.

Wotan’s anger now gets the better of him. He asserts his old authority as the punisher of Bruennhilde, telling Siegfried that it was Wotan’s Ravens - associated here with Motif #94, which at its inception represented Wotan’s intent to punish Bruennhilde with sleep and leave her powerless to prevent any man from waking and winning her as bride – who scared Siegfried’s Woodbird away. Accordingly, Wotan now threatens Siegfried with his spear, confesses that Bruennhilde lies under his power, and prepares to stop Siegfried from reaching her. We also, curiously enough, hear a variant of #5 (originally Alberich’s “Wehe! Wehe!” from R.1), which was first heard when Wotan and Loge in R.3 entered Nibelheim and found Mime moaning in pain from the beating Alberich – invisible thanks to the Tarnhelm’s magic - had just given him. Another key instance of this variant of #5 was – as it is here - heard in association with #94 as Wotan told Bruennhilde of his plan to punish her in V.3.2. This variant, at least in the original, definitive version first heard in R.3, is often called the “Servitude Motif.” Presumably its presence here expresses Wotan’s demand that Siegfried submit to his authority. But Wotan, in holding out his spear, is actually offering Siegfried the supreme and final test to certify him as the sole suitable suitor for Bruennhilde, since Wotan’s last words in V.3.3, after he’d put Bruennhilde to sleep and commanded Loge to surround her with fire, was that he who fears Wotan’s spear-point will never pass through the fire. Wotan in fact hopes, and expects, that Siegfried will pass the test by breaking

Go back a page
661
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.