Richard Wagner

Die Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), opera, WWV 86d

    Description by Theresa Muir

    Wagner completed the first draft of Siegfrieds Tod, later renamed Götterdämmerung in October 1848. Realizing that much knowledge of the situation was preassumed, he added a Prologue, and eventually turned the project into a cycle of four operas. He changed the dramatic focus from Siegfried to Wotan, and consequently had to revise Siegfrieds Tod. In 1852, he changed the end so that Walhall and the gods were destroyed. In 1856, more changes were made in light of his reading of Schopenhauer and interest in Buddhism. The first complete draft of the score was completed in April 1872, and the entire opera finally completed on November 21, 1874.

    Götterdämmerung is a colossal work, one of the longest evenings of opera in the standard repertory. The Prologue and Act One, connected by the orchestral "Siegfried's Rhine Journey" probably comprise the longest continuous stretch of music heard in any operatic work. Despite this, the drama is so compressed that events seem almost to race to their cataclysmic end. Götterdämmerung's structure echoes that of the entire cycle, with a prologue and three acts reflecting the large-scale plan of the prologue and three evenings.

    Musically, Wagner has gained such mastery of his drama and musical motives, that he treats both with superb fluidity. At the same time, there seem to be regressive moments. For example, the Act Two chorus of the Gibichung vassals seems like an artifact of the old grand opera, as does the revenge trio in the same act, with its ensemble singing, and duplications of text. These events are partially explained by the libretto having preceded the music by more than 20 years, from a time when Wagner's music-dramatic theories had not been fully realized.

    Wagner's use of his Leitmotives produces uncannily powerful psychological effects. For example, in Act Three, at the moment of Siegfried's death, the audience sees what he sees, by the use of Brünnhilde's awakening music from Siegfried Act Three, which then fades with his consciousness. It has been observed that the audience's memory for dramatic narrative have been stretched almost to their limits by the arc between these two moments; but an even longer stretch comes when the Funeral Music begins with the timpani strokes from Brünnhilde's annunciation of Siegmund's death in Die Walküre.

    The music following Brünnhilde's immolation, even if it does not "explain" anything, is hugely consoling after the multiple tragedies, and that consoling effect again lies in Wagner's masterful manipulation of memory. Over a simmering stew of Leitmotives -- those of the Rhine, Walhall, and Siegfried -- the violins sing an arching melody first heard in Die Walküre, when Sieglinde burst out with this melody after Brünnhilde told her that she was bearing Siegmund's child. The label traditionally attached to this melody, "Redemption by Love," has misled audiences; in fact, Wagner considered it a song of praise to his heroine, Brünnhilde. His choice to end the entire vast work with this melody is indeed explanatory.

    Parts/Movements

    1. No. 1a, Introduction
    2. No. 1b, Welch Licht leuchtet dort?
    3. No. 2, Dawn (Orchestral Interlude)
    4. No. 3, Zu neuen Taten, teurer Helde
    5. No. 4, O heilige Gotter!
    6. No. 5, Siegfried's Rhine Journey (Orchestral Interlude)
    7. No. 6, Nun hor, Hagen, sage mir, Held
    8. No. 7a, Was weckst du Zweifel und Zwist!
    9. No. 7b, Brachte Siegfried die Barut dir heim
    10. No. 8a, Heil! Siegfried, teurer Held!
    11. No. 8b, Wer ist Gibichs Sohn?
    12. No. 9, Begrusse froh, o Held
    13. No. 10, Wilkommen, Gast, in Gibichs Haus!
    14. No. 11, Hast du, Gunther, ein Weib?
    15. No. 12a, Blut-Bruderschaft schwore ein Eid!
    16. No. 12b, Blühenden Lebens labendes Blut
    17. No. 13, Hier sitz' ich zur Wacht, wahre den Ho! (Hagen's Watch)
    18. No. 14, Transformation Music (Orchestral Interlude)
    19. No. 15, Altgewohntes Gerausch raunt meinem Ohr die Ferne
    20. No. 16a, Hore mit Sinn, was ich dir sage!
    21. No. 16b, Seit er von dir geschieden
    22. No. 17, Da sann ich nach
    23. No. 18, Welch banger Traume Maren
    24. No. 19, Brunnhild'! Ein Freier karn
    25. No. 20, Prelude
    26. No. 21, Schläfst du, Hagen, mein Sohn?
    27. No. 22, Orchestral Interlude
    28. No. 23, Hoiho, Hagen! Müder Mann!
    29. No. 24, Hoiho! Ihr Gibichsmannen, machet euch auf!
    30. No. 25, Heil dir, Gunther!
    31. No. 26, Brunnhild', die hehrste Frau
    32. No. 27a, Was ist ihr? Ist sie entruckt?
    33. No. 27b, Was muht Brunnhildes Blick?
    34. No. 28, Helle Wehr! Heilige Waffe!
    35. No. 29, Welches Unholds List liegt hier verhohlen?
    36. No. 30, Dir hilft kein Hirn
    37. No. 31, Prelude
    38. No. 32, Frau Sonne sendet lichte Strahlen
    39. No. 33, Hoiho? Hoiho!
    40. No. 34, Trink, Gunther, trink
    41. No. 35, Mime heiß ein murrischer Zwerg
    42. No. 36, Brunnhilde, heilige Braut!
    43. No. 37, Siegfried's Funeral March
    44. No. 38, War das sein Horn?
    45. No. 39, Schweigt eures Jammers
    46. No. 40, Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort (Brunnhilde's Immolation)
    47. No. 41, Mein Erbe nun nehm' ich zu eigen
    48. No. 42, Fliegt heim, ihr Raben!
    49. No. 43, Zuruck vom Ring (Orchestral Finale)
    50. No. 44, Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey (Concert version)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Sterling CDA 1813
    2018 Naxos 866042831
    2017 Decca / Philips Classics
    2016 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186581
    2015 Walhall WLCD 0249
    2015 Decca B002330102
    2015 Testament SBT 21507
    2014 Avie AVR 2313
    2014 Walhall WLCD 0219
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 939
    2013 Masterworks / Sony Classical 88765435042
    2013 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186409
    2013 Masterworks / Sony Classical 88765427172
    2013 Profil / Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 10034
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4791560
    2013 Eurodisc / Masterworks 88725462232
    2013 Myto Historical / Myto Historical Line 326
    2012 Walhall WLCD 0368
    2012 Decca 4783702
    2012 Oehms Classics OC 929
    2012 Decca 4783482
    2012 Decca
    2012 Oehms Classics 938
    2011 RCA Red Seal 88697899792
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 Teldec 256467714
    2011 ZYX / ZYX Classics CLA 101262
    2011 Oehms Classics OC 928
    2011 Warner Classics 677316
    2010 Orfeo 809113
    2010 Hallé 7525
    2010 BBC Music / Opus Arte 9004
    2010 Decca 478 236-7
    2010 Decca 4782367
    2010 EMI Classics / Virgin Classics 4578172
    2010 Denon Records
    2009 BBC/Opus DVD / Opus Arte OA CD9000B D
    2009 Testament 1433
    2009 Myto Records 00206
    2009 Myto Records 00223
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Archipel 416
    2008 Opera D'Oro OPD 1501
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951947
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 457795
    2008 Decca 4780279
    2007 Et'cetera 5503
    2007 Naxos 8660179-82
    2007 Melba Recordings 301099-102
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 004400734340
    2006 Opera D'Oro 1500
    2006 Warner Classics
    2006 Document 223060
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 58724
    2006 Myto Records 55319
    2005 Gebhardt 60
    2005 Orfeo 660 513
    2005 Urania 283
    2004 Archipel 250-13
    2004 Gala Records 999791
    2003 Golden Melodram 10066
    2003 Archipel 113
    2003 Melodram 10067
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471678
    2002 Arte Nova 870752
    2002 Golden Melodram 10052
    2002 Gebhardt 40
    2002 Naxos Historical 8110228-30
    2002 Gebhardt 46
    2001 Brilliant 99625
    2001 Melodram 10048
    2001 Chandos 3065
    2001 Chandos CHAN3060
    2000 Music & Arts 4009
    2000 Myto Records 973159
    2000 Music & Arts CD1058
    2000 Urania 154
    2000 Gala Records 100654
    1999 Testament 4175
    1999 Philips 412488
    1998 Golden Melodram 10027
    1998 EMI Classics 72731
    1998 Golden Melodram 10014
    1998 Opera D'Oro 1158
    1998 Opera D'Oro 1157
    1997 Decca / PolyGram 455 555-2DMO14
    1997 London/Decca / PolyGram 455569
    1996 Golden Melodram 1001
    1995 Philips 446057
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 445354
    1994 Teldec 94194
    1994 Orfeo 356944
    1993 Preiser Records 90164
    1992 Philips 434424
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 54485
    1991 Deutsche Grammophon 429385
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 7671232
    Arkadia 364
    Testament 1426
    Arkadia 480
    Philips 000725702
    London 41002
    Warner Classics 62091
    RCA Red Seal 55709
    Virtuoso 99082
    Fonti Musicali 1000
    Philips 420325
    Testament 1393
    Virtuoso 2699112
    London 414115
    Brilliant 99629
    EMI Music Distribution 7671162
    Foyer Records 2010
    Laudis Records Suite 4013
    Arlecchino 55
    London 414100
    Calig 703769