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Twilight of the Gods: Page 972
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into betraying his muse Bruennhilde, thereby raising Alberich’s Ring – a symbol now for Alberich’s hoard of knowledge – from the silent depths to the light of day), and a #51/#13 variant in the minor, which tells us both that Alberich’s curse on his Ring (#51) has been (through Siegfried’s death), and will yet be (through the twilight of the gods), fulfilled in fullest measure, and yet the chance still remains to throw his Ring back into the Rhine where the Rhinedaughters (represented here by #13, their cry of “Heiajaheia!”) can dissolve it and transform it back into innocent gold, ending the Ring curse. A depressed, tentative variant of the Mature Siegfried’s Horncall #148, usually so proud and grand, enhances the melancholy. Gutrune’s constantly repeated refrain “Was that his horn,” as we hear spectral echoes of the now deceased Siegfried’s Youthful Horncall #103, forces upon our consciousness more than anything could that Siegfried and all that he represented is gone forever.

Gutrune, troubled by nightmares, has been woken by Bruennhilde’s laughter in the night, a laughter which her reincarnate self, in the form of Kundry, will inherit in Wagner’s final music-drama (which some consider, as I do, and with good cause, the fifth music-drama of the Ring), Parsifal. Gutrune thought she saw a woman going down to the Rhine. We will soon learn from Bruennhilde herself, of course, that during her visit to the banks of the Rhine the Rhinedaughters persuaded Bruennhilde to fulfill their prophecy that she would lend a more willing ear to their plea to restore the Ring to them, than Siegfried did. At this point in Gutrune’s narrative we hear a #15 Variant (the Rhinedaughters’ joyous cry of “Rhinegold! Rhinegold!,” from before the “Fall”), a #111 Variant, and #149. #111 and #149 are of course echoes of T.P.2, when Bruennhilde inspired Siegfried to undertake the new adventures of art which culminated here, and now, in his self-betrayal of her, his muse, and their art. While the #15 variant recalls Bruennhilde’s role as his surrogate Rhine, who kept the Ring’s power safe (and protected Siegfried from its curse of consciousness) so long as Siegfried honored Bruennhilde, it also re-emphasizes the need ultimately to restore the Ring to the Rhinedaughters, i.e., to eliminate consciousness itself. Gutrune, expressing her fear of Bruennhilde as we hear the Fate Motif, #87, checks Bruennhilde’s room to see if she’s in. Finding she is not, Gutrune says Bruennhilde’s chamber is empty, and that therefore it must have been Bruennhilde she saw going down to the Rhine. Gutrune, thinking she’s heard Siegfried’s horn one last time, realizes finally that it was not, and then sums our entire experience of the Ring and its culmination in Siegfried’s death, by saying: “(#161 End Fragment) Everywhere desolate!” Finally, we hear her motif #156a in combination with #164 (Bruennhilde’s recognition that her love for Siegfried was actually Wotan’s punishment at its most intense, and the consummation of Alberich’s curse on the Ring). #164 represents the price Wotan once said Bruennhilde would pay in living for love, i.e., in basing life’s happiness and contentment on what seems now to have been an illusion.

Bruennhilde’s laughter, I speculate, arises from the full knowledge of the place she and Siegfried, and their love, hold in the cosmic scheme of things, for in her final judgment on Wotan, and apostrophe to Siegfried, with which she introduces the Ring’s finale, the twilight of the gods, she will proclaim that she now knows all things (all her mother Erda’s knowledge) with full consciousness, and evidently will be reconciled to all things. Perhaps she concurs with the Rhinedaughters, in the end, that all was play, thereby giving the victory, in the end, to art, after all!

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