Siegfried (2002) - Synopsis
The Nibelung Mime longs to possess the ring that his brother, Alberich, once fashioned out of the Rhine gold and which gives the person who is wearing it great power. To this end he has reared the orphaned Siegfried in the hope that one day the young hero will fight Fafner, the present owner of the ring, to acquire it for him. Mime tries in vain to forge a sword which will withstand the strength of his foster son. Siegfried senses that he is not Mime’s son and pesters the latter with questions about his parents. In the end, Mime tells Siegfried that his mother, Sieglinde, sought shelter with him shortly before she died giving birth to Siegfried. In order to prove the truth of his story, he shows Siegfried the fragments of the sword which his mother had given him on her deathbed, saying that it had been the sword of Siegfried’s father. Siegfried challenges Mime to forge the fragments of the broken sword into a new one for him and leaves Mime alone, depressed by a problem to which there is no solution.
Wotan, disguised as the Wanderer, comes to see Mime and persuades him to take part in a wager: each of them wages their head that they can answer three questions posed by the other. The Wanderer has no trouble answering Mime’s questions about the race which inhabits the earth’s deep bowels, the Nibelungs, the Giants who dwell on earth and the Gods who inhabit the cloudy heights. Mime foolishly wastes the opportunity of putting the one question which would help him to carry out his plan, namely who will succeed in welding the broken sword together again. This is exactly the question which Mime fails to answer when the Wanderer asks him about the Wälsungs. The Wanderer’s reply, namely that Nothung can only be welded together by a hero who does not know fear, puts Mime in fear of his life; he realizes that Siegfried is the hero referred to. The Wanderer departs; he leaves Mime’s forfeited head to the hero who knows no fear.
In order to teach Siegfried what fear is, Mime finally decides to lead him to Fafner, whom he has described as a fearsome dragon. Eager for this new adventure, Siegfried succeeds in forging the pieces of Nothung into a new sword. In the meantime Mime brews a poisonous drink with which he plans to poison Siegfried as soon as the latter has killed Fafner.
Alberich, who has been lying in wait for a very long time hoping for an opportunity to regain possession of the ring, meets the Wanderer. It is a source of great satisfaction to Alberich that his rival in the struggle for the ring is powerless, dependent on the help of others, and lives in a permanent state of fear that Alberich might achieve his goal before him. To his surprise, the Wanderer informs him of the imminent arrival of Siegfried and Mime and advises him to pass the warning on to Fafner and ask for the ring in return for the warning. Fafner, however, is not in the least bit interested; he merely wants to be left in peace.
Mime leads Siegfried to Fafner and leaves him on his own, hoping that the two of them will kill each other. Siegfried’s thoughts are full of his parentage, although he has no concept of what his parents might have been like. He tries to communicate with a woodbird and in doing so rouses Fafner and provokes him to fight. Mortally wounded, Fafner tries to warn Siegfried about the curse on the ring.
Because he has been in contact with Fafner’s blood, Siegfried now has the power to understand the bird’s song. While Alberich and Mime are quarrelling over Fafner‘s body about the booty, Siegfried, on the advice of the bird, takes possession of the ring and the Tarn helmet without understanding their importance. Mime celebrates Siegfried’s victory over Fafner and tries at the same time to get him to swallow the poisonous drink. Siegfried, however, has been warned by the bird and kills Mime. He is now lonelier than ever and bemoans his fate to the bird, telling him how much he would like to have a companion. Again the bird has some advice; he tells him about the sleeping Brünnhilde, who is to belong to the one who rouses her from sleep.
The Wanderer calls on the omniscient Erda; not, however, to ask her about the future, for he believes that he knows exactly what that will bring and thinks he is in full control. He is rather seeking confirmation that he has acted correctly so far. Erda, however, accuses him of having broken the law and committing purjury. The Wanderer assures her that Wotan is not trying to prevent the twilight of the Gods, on the contrary, he has decided that it should come about. A new race – born of Siegfried and Brünnhilde – is to break the curse of the ring and bring about the dawn of a new epoch. He does not expect an answer from Erda.
The Wanderer now approaches Siegfried. With the help of pertinent questions he ascertains that Siegfried knows nothing about him and is therefore in a position to fulfill the task that has been set for him. Siegfried even turns out to be freer than Wotan actually likes; he smashes Wotan’s spear with Nothung. The way to Brünnhilde is now open.
At what is his first sight of a woman, Siegfried experiences a sentiment which he thinks is fear. He wakes Brünnhilde from sleep with a kiss. Brünnhilde recognizes in him the man for whom she is destined and with whom she will realize Wotan’s plans. Siegfried, however, has no time for such considerations, he is dominated by his passions and sees only the woman he wants to possess. Brünnhilde overcomes her scruples and consents. Rejoicing, the two of them are united in their love.
Translation: Susan Bollinger
© Bayerische Staatsoper