Sunday, 8 March 2015
The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde
In Norse mythology the Valkyries are 'choosers of the slain,' and in Wagner's Die Walkure they are the daughters of Wotan or Odin.
Among the Valkyries it is Brunhilde who is Wotan's favourite, all but Brunhilde are gathered together at a top of a mountain collecting dead heroes to take to Valhalla. Eventually she does turns up, but instead of a fallen hero she is carrying a live woman which the other Valkyries realise is in defiance of her father’s orders. Brunhilde tells her sisters that she has been trying to protect Wotan’s illegitimate son Siegmund and that the women she holds in her arms is the pregnant Sieglinde, lover and also the twin of Siegmund.
An angry Wotan soon arrives and orders the rest of the Valkyries away, in his fury he orders that Brunhilde should become a mortal woman and left on the mountain at the mercy of any man who passes that way. She pleads with her father and reminds him of Siegmund's courage begging him try to understand. Seeing him less angry she takes the opportunity to ask for a last request she asks "if I am to be left on the mountain may I be surrounded by a fire that would keep away all but the bravest of heroes" Wotan agrees.
We can see below the final act of Wagner's opera depicted in Ferdinand Leeke's work entitled The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde, the love Wotan has for his favourtie daughter can be see so clearly here.
Nevertheless Wotan kisses Brunhilde's eyes closed and calls for the Norse god of fire to ignite the circle of flame.