Twilight of the Gods: Act Three, Scene Three - Gibichung Hall: Gutrune, Hagen, Gunther, Bruennhilde, Siegfried's corpse, the Gibichung vassals and women, and the Rhinedaughters
What is arguably the grandest and most heroic orchestral passage in the Ring, Siegfried’s Funeral Procession, has slowly quieted and wound down to a brief orchestral interlude of silent melancholy, which introduces the last scene of the Ring. We have returned now to Gibichung Hall. Gutrune’s little soliloquy which follows is as central to the dramatic structure of the Ring as any other, though Wieland Wagner (Wagner’s grandson) evidently thought it so negligible that he sometimes cut it out of Ring performances at Bayreuth. Gutrune’s brief moment alone is one of the most touching yet disturbing in the Ring, because we feel here a desolation of the spirit which tells us just what has been lost to the world through Siegfried’s death. It is a little masterpiece of existential meditation on what a world might be like in which all hopes for a higher life, all ideals, all longing for humane values has been utterly squelched:
(#5?. It is night. Moonlight is mirrored on the surface of the Rhine. #161/#177 frag; #51/#13 vari minor [#161 continued]; #148 [in a sad vari]; #13 vari: Gutrune enters from the hall from her chamber. #156a; #103/#161)
Gutrune: (#103/#161:) Was that his horn? (She listens.) (#161 end frag>>:) No! He’s still not come home (:#161 end frag). – (#103?) Troubled dreams (#103 vari>>:) disturbed my sleep! – (#78b [or #103?]) His horse was neighing wildly: - (#77 vari) Bruennhilde’s laughter woke me up. – (#161?:) Who was the woman (#161 end frag:) I saw going down to the shore (:#161 end frag)? – (#15 vari [not #15, #13, then #16?]; #111 vari; #149) I’m afraid of Bruennhild’! – (#87) Is she within? Bruennhild’! Bruennhild’! Are you awake? (She opens the door timidly and looks into the inner chamber. #149) The chamber’s empty! – (#161?:) So it was she whom I saw going (#13 vari:) down to the Rhine (:#161?; :#13 vari)? (#171) Was that his horn? – (#161?:) No! (#161 end frag:) Everywhere desolate (:#161)! – (#156a/#164: Anxiously she looks outside.) Might I only see Siegfried soon!
The unbearably suspenseful yet doom-laden mood of irredeemable melancholy is produced initially by the mournful variant of #149 (Bruennhilde’s inspiration of Siegfried’s art), followed by the sad motif of Hagen’s Watch #161 (bespeaking Hagen’s destiny, that he would manipulate Siegfried