by Richard Wagner
NOVEMBER 1 – 30
Sung in German with projected English translations
Die Walküre Opera Overview
After the triumph of Das Rheingold in 2016/17, Lyric continues the thrilling journey through Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle with Die Walküre. This is the most deeply moving and romantic of all the Ring operas. Its riveting, devastating drama involves complex relationships between brother and sister, husband and wife, father and daughter. Every character is unforgettable—valiant Siegmund and Sieglinde, headstrong Brünnhilde and mighty, tortured Wotan, determined Fricka and vengeful Hunding. Wagner’s music drama burns itself on our memories, exciting us with the emotional intensity of its lyrical outbursts and its incredible power and majesty.
“Nothing short of a triumph on all fronts, intelligently conceived by the creative team, brilliantly executed by a top-flight international cast.” – Chicago Tribune on Das Rheingold, 2016
Approximate Running Time: 4 hours, 55 minutes with 2 intermissions
Photo by Cory Weaver
Die Walküre Opera Resources
Join us in the theater one hour before the curtain rises for a free, 30-minute preview talk about the opera. Learn more about pre-opera talks.
Siegmund, son of the god Wotan, is a fugitive and arrives at the house of the beautiful Sieglinde, where he thinks he has found refuge. The two discover a deep love for each other, but the only way for them to be together is for Siegmund to challenge Seiglinde’s husband to a fight to the death. Filled with devastating drama and enthralling music, Die Walküre explores the complex relationships of brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and fathers and daughters in a new production that is both musically and visually stunning.
Audio HighlightsRichard Wagner
“Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond”
“Du bist der Lenz”
“Ride of the Valkyries”
commentary by Anthony Freud in collaboration with Nicholas Ivor Martin
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Our brand-new production of opened to great acclaim on November 1, with seven performances through November 30 to engage the hearts, minds, and senses of Lyric audience. Here’s a sampling of the accolades.
This riveting and devastating drama explores complex relationships between brother and sister, husband and wife, father and daughter.
A new Ring is the most formidable challenge any opera company can undertake, but we’re energized by it at Lyric, especially after last season’s acclaimed production of the cycle’s first opera, Das Rheingold.
Music for Die Walküre provided by through generous arrangement with Warner Classics, Official Education and Promotion Music Provider for Lyric Opera of Chicago.
© 2017/18 Lyric Opera Commentaries Original sound recordings of musical excerpts used by permission of Warner Music Group. All rights reserved. Recording & Production services provided by Mark Travis.
Lyric Opera Commentaries are sponsored by the Patrick G. and Shirley Welsh Ryan Foundation in memory of their parents.
Costume design by Marie-Jeanne Lecca
Die Walküre Synopsis
In the Ring cycle’s prologue, Das Rheingold, Alberich steals the Rhinemaidens’ gold and forges it into a ring giving him supreme power. Wotan, the chief god, captures Alberich and steals the ring, but Alberich places a curse on it until it is restored to its rightful owner. Wotan is forced to give the ring to the giants Fasolt and Fafner as payment for building the gods’ fortress, Valhalla. The curse immediately reveals its power: Fafner kills his brother and keeps the ring himself. The gods enter Valhalla, apparently in triumph.
Knowing that without the ring, this triumph is ephemeral, Wotan sires two mortal children, Siegmund and Sieglinde, in the hope of creating an independent hero, unbound by the contracts that limit his freedom of action, who can win back the ring. But he cannot resist participating in their fate, so fatally compromising their independence. As further insurance, he sires nine Valkyries with the earth-goddess Erda, whose task is to recruit fallen heroes to defend Valhalla.
Siegmund seeks shelter in Hunding's home. Sieglinde, Hunding’s wife, looks after him. Siegmund tells Hunding of his boyhood: his mother was killed and his twin sister abducted. His father raised him as a lone warrior, and then vanished. Siegmund reveals that is seeking shelter, having supported a young woman whom kinsmen were forcing into a loveless marriage. After slaying several of her oppressors, he was disarmed, wounded, and put to flight. Hunding declares that the fallen were his own kinsmen, and that he will exact vengeance the following day. The sacred vows of hospitality, however, protect his guest that night.
Siegmund recalls his father's promise that he would find a sword in his hour of need. Sieglinde reveals that she has drugged Hunding with a sleeping draft, and shows Siegmund a sword buried to the hilt in the ash tree that grows through Hunding’s house. A stranger, whom Sieglinde recognized as her father, had appeared at her wedding feast and plunged the sword into the tree, promising it would belong to anyone who could withdraw it. So far, everyone has failed this challenge.
Suddenly moonlight floods the room. Greeting the spring, Siegmund declares that fate sent him to rescue Sieglinde and claim her as his bride. She recognizes him as her brother, and names him “Siegmund”. He pulls out the sword and names it “Nothung” (“Need”) and the ecstatic twins become lovers.
Brünnhilde, Wotan's favorite Valkyrie daughter, greets her father. He commands her to defend Siegmund in his duel with Hunding.
Fricka, goddess of marriage and Wotan’s wife, demands that he cease protecting the incestuous lovers, and that marital propriety must be upheld. Wotan is reluctantly forced to yield: the gods cannot survive if they ignore the sacred laws on which their power rests. When Brünnhilde returns, Wotan explains the long history of the ring. He had intended that Siegmund would recapture the ring, but that is now impossible; Wotan is reduced to awaiting the end of his supremacy, which Erda predicted would follow the birth of Alberich’s son. Wotan bitterly instructs Brünnhilde to ensure Hunding's triumph over Siegmund. When the Valkyrie protests, her father threatens her with severe punishment should she disobey.
Overcome by shame and fear, Sieglinde begs her brother to leave her. Siegmund is confident of victory over Hunding. Sieglinde's terror increases as she has a premonition of Siegmund’s death.
Brünnhilde appears to Siegmund as the messenger of death, and tells him that she will escort him to Valhalla. When he learns that Sieglinde cannot accompany him, Siegmund scorns the heroes’ paradise. He prepares to kill Sieglinde and himself, to preserve their union in death. Deeply moved, Brünnhilde promises to aid Siegmund in battle.
Siegmund confronts Hunding. Brünnhilde manages to protect him until Wotan appears, shattering Siegmund's sword and enabling Hunding to kill him. Brünnhilde flees with Sieglinde, and the fragments of the sword. Having kept his promise to Fricka, Wotan contemptuously slays Hunding and swears to punish Brünnhilde.
The Valkyries assemble. Brünnhilde begs her sisters to save Sieglinde from Wotan’s wrath. The Valkyries tell her that Wotan does not go near the forest that shelters Fafner, the giant, who has transformed himself into a dragon to guard his treasure. Brünnhilde reveals that the life of Siegmund’s unborn son depends on Sieglinde’s survival. Ecstatic, Sieglinde sets off for the forest alone, taking with her only the shattered fragments of the sword, “Nothung.”
The Valkyries flee from Wotan’s wrath. He condemns Brünnhilde to be put to sleep on the Valkyrie rock, defenseless against the first man who claims her as his wife. Brünnhilde explains that she disobeyed only Wotan’s words, not his true desire. She asks to be surrounded by a fire that only a fearless hero can penetrate. Wotan grants her request and, bidding her a heartbroken farewell, he kisses her eyes and lets her sink into a deep sleep. When he calls for Loge, the demigod of fire, a sea of flames encircles the mountain. Declaring that anyone who fears his spear will never step through the fire, Wotan disappears.
Claim Your Place Amongst the Gods!
For Ring fans like you, we are thrilled to offer the Valhalla Circle, our annual giving program society for donors seeking access to space events with the cast and crew, exclusive rehearsal performances, and the change to learn more from Ring artists.
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