Siegfried (opera)

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Uncompleted Operas

Siegfried is the third of the four operas that comprise Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), by Richard Wagner. It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring. This part of the opera is primarily inspired by the story of the legendary hero Sigurd in Norse mythology.

Contents

Composition

Roles

Synopsis

Act 1

Mime, Alberich's brother, is forging a blade in his cave within the forest. The Nibelung dwarf is plotting to obtain the Ring for himself, having raised Siegfried to kill Fafner for him. He needs a sword for Siegfried to use, but the youth has broken every blade he has made. Siegfried returns from his wanderings in the forest, demanding to know his parentage, and Mime is forced to explain how he took in Siegfried's mother, Sieglinde, who died giving birth. He shows Siegfried the broken pieces of Nothung, which he obtained from her, and Siegfried orders him to reforge the sword.

Siegfried departs, leaving Mime in despair: it is beyond his skill to repair Nothung. An old man (Wotan in disguise) arrives at the door and introduces himself as the Wanderer. In return for the hospitality due a guest he wagers his head on answering any three questions or riddles from Mime. The dwarf agrees in order to get rid of his unwelcome guest. He asks the Wanderer to name the races that live beneath the ground, on the surface, and the skies. These are the Nibelung, the Giants, and the Gods, as the Wanderer correctly answers. Mime tells the Wanderer to be on his way but is forced to wager his own head on three more riddles for breaking the law of hospitality. The Wanderer asks him to name the race most beloved of Wotan, but most harshly treated; the name of the blade that can destroy Fafner; and the person who can make the blade. Mime gives the answer to the first two questions: the Wälsungs and Nothung. However, he is unable to answer the last. Wotan spares Mime, telling him that only "he who does not know fear" can reforge Nothung, and leaves Mime's head forfeit to that person.

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