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Twilight of the Gods: Page 861
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the Ring to the Rhinedaughters. In this case, Alberich fears, its power could never be restored to him:

Alberich: (#167 vari:) The golden ring, the circlet, must be gained (:#167 [but this music seems to transform into the Norns’ singing about Loge, in the olden days, as heard in T.P?])! (#21 frag:; #voc?: [perhaps #88 in the urgent vari heard in V.2.4 after Siegmund began to resist the fate Bruennhilde announced to him, &/or #90, the motif associated in V.2.4 with Bruennhilde’s ultimate decision, in profound sympathy for the Waelsung’s anguish (“Noth”), to protect Siegmund from Wotan’s punishment?]) A wise woman lives for the Waelsung alone (:#21 frag; :#88 or #90 voc?): (#5?:) were she ever to urge him (:#5?) [the order of phrases in the English translation which follows is wholly different from the German, and therefore the sequence of motifs is different also] (#17/#19:) to give back the ring (:#17/#19) (#4 >> :) to the deep Rhine’s daughters who once befooled me in watery depths (:#4), (#17/#19:) the gold would be lost to me then (:#17/#19), (#voc?: [music perhaps associated elsewhere with Loge, which may have been heard when Alberich in S.2.1 told wotan: “Were I, as you wish, still as stupid as then, when you bound the foolish dwarf, how easy, indeed, would it prove (furiously) to deprive me once more of the ring.”?]) no cunning could ever reclaim it (:#voc? [S.2.1 Alberich reference?]). (#167 vari:) So strive for the ring (#167:) without delay (:#167)!

 

The presence here of #167 (#19-based), the so-called “Murder Motif,” as Alberich strongly urges his son Hagen to regain the Ring, and its recurrence at the end of this passage as Alberich insists that Hagen strive for the Ring without delay, lest Bruennhilde persuade Siegfried to return the Ring to the Rhinedaughters, suggests that the only way Alberich can ever regain his Ring and its power is through Siegfried’s death. Siegfried’s Death is of course the original title Wagner chose for what later became the final drama of the Ring tetralogy, Twilight of the Gods, so, in grasping the meaning of Siegfried’s death, we might well grasp the basis of Wagner’s transition from a romantic German opera composer, to the revolutionary creator of the mature music-dramas. The meaning, I believe, is the following: in order for the secular, scientific world-view which the Nibelungs Alberich and Hagen represent, to wholly control the contents of the human mind (i.e., the Ring), first, man’s propensity to stake the meaning of his life on the consoling self-deceptions of religion and art must first be discredited, so that man can wean himself away from their false consolations. To fully accomplish this the covert religion called secular art must be exposed for what it is, covert religion, so that it will succumb to the same critique through which scientific inquiry first undermined religious belief and its articles of faith (Wotan and the gods), exposing its claim to the truth (and its power) to be false.

This is one of the most mysterious passages in the Ring, unless we merely take for granted everything the Ring presents to us naively as a child would, without question, a standpoint which I

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