Richard Wagner.

Siegfried, music-drama in three acts, third evening of The ring of the Nibelung cyclus online

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Translation of the Poem, Legend and Story of the Opera, by


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SIEGFRIED, Son of Siegmund and Sieglinda Tenor

MIME, a Dwarf, of the Race of the Nibelungs '. . . . Tenor

WOTAN, Disguised as the Wanderer Bass

'ALBERICH, a Gnome, Mime's half brotlier Bass

FAFNER, a Giant, in the form of a Dragon Bass

ERDA, Teutonic Goddess of Life and Death Mezzo Soprano

BRYNHILDA, the Valkyr, daughter of Wotan and Erda Soprano

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\iz\ ■

The Legend and Story of the Opera, and the English Translation of the Poem, entered

according to Act of Congress, in the year 1887, by John P. Jackson, in the

Office of the Librarian of Congress at AVashmgton, D. C.

I^tgentr anir S>ioxv d lljt #pjem.

" Siegfried" is the second drama and the third
evening of " The Ring of the Niblung." It is
devoted to the life and adventures of Young
Siegfried, from his childhood under the care of
the dwarf Mime up to his adventure of the
awakening of Brynhilda from the long, fire-sur-
rounded sleep in which she was sunk by Wo-
tan as a punishment for her disobedience in
sheltering Sieglinda. Brynhilda, the Valkyr,
has been banished from Walhalla, but in an-
swer to her appeal, Wotan consented that
around her place of slumber a circle of fire
should arise, so that only the bravest of mortals,
one who had learnt nothing of fear, should ever
approach her. With that beautiful scene in the
preceding drama Wagner leaves the realm of
Mythology that proper henceforth to wander in
of Legend. We gradually approach the story
of the Nibelungen Lied, which, however, is
only utilized in part in the " Gotterdammer-
ung," the last evening of the " Ring," In " Sieg-
fried " Wagner virtually makes a new creation
from the original sources, the Scandinavian

Wagner's intention was originally to compose
an opera on the legend of Siegfried, and in his
collected works the original drama is published
under the title of " Siegfried's Death." Getting
deeper and deeper into his subject, he finally
enlarged it to the present proportions of the tri-
log}% the full text of which was pub ished in
1863. The mythological attributes of all the per-
sonages of the present drama have been suffi-
ciently explained in "The Valkyr." A few
words from Edward Schure's book on Richard
Wagner m.ay, however, find a place in this intro-
duction. He says : " We know of German myth-
ology only through the Scandinavian Sagas. They
have the same gods in common, which belong to
the grand family of the Aryan gods. But on their
long journey across the forests of Scythia and
the northern seas, they lost the rays of the sun
that had shone on them in their Asiatic home, and
appear again sombre and barbaric in the Eddas
of Iceland. But the principal types of the Olympi-
an family are easily recognized, Jupiter as Odin or
Wotan, Juno as Fricka,Vulcan as Thor,Venus as
Freya, and a pale phantom of Apollo in Baldur,
that vanishes, a luminous shadow, in the mists of
the virgin forest.

"As the Zeus of the northern Ol3Tnpus Odin
or Wotan rules as lord of the Ases or divinities.
He is the god of battle and of the storms, the
awakener of courage and of adventurous love.
His nine daughters, the Valkyries, ride through
the air, excite the warriors to the struggle and
bear the dead to Walhalla. But Odin is a

strange god, a mysterious wanderer of the for-
ests and the mountains, roving and questioning.
On one of his journeys he calls up the wise god-
dess Vala, asking for advice in his need. The
final extinction of the gods cannot be averted,
but he seeks to postpone the tragic event as long
as possible. He and his warriors are in constant
conflict with the Giants and the race of malignant
Dwarfs. The race of the Gods is threatened with
death, the end approaches, when the monsters
of the abyss will be unchained, and fire will break
through the vaulting of heaven, and in the confla-
gration Walhalla and its dwellers will with the
world be destroyed. But after that cataclysm
the Eddas promise a rebirth of gods and of men,
a new golden era." Wotan has prepared for
the end. He has created a hero who, free frcm
the curse resting on the gods themselves, — be-
cause of the wrong, they did in robbing the gold
from the dwarfs wherewith to pay the giant
builders of Walhalla, whereby they brought
misery and murder and injustice into the world,
— shall eventually restore the treasure to its ori-
ginal possessors, the Rhine Daughters, and thus
redeem the world from the curse. In place of
the right of might, Love is to be the legac left
to the regenerated world.

In " Siegfried " the mythological elements do
not enter to any great extent into the course of the
drama. The work is devoted to the life and ad-
ventures of the youthful hero, who in the " Got-
terdammerung" completes through Brjmhilda
the will of the god. A few more words from
Schur6 may suffice to introduce the story:
" Like an aurora borealis in the northern night
the legend of Sigurd or Siegfried of the Golden
Hair, the sla3'er of the dragon Fafner, the awaken-
er of the daughter of Wotan, Brynhilda, sleep-
ing on the fire-surrounded rock, gleams amid
the sombre mythology. Under the rugged con-
tours of the sagas Sigurd embodies the ideal of
j^outhful and victorious heroism ; and Brj-n-
hilda the highest type of the northern woman,
divinatrice, prophetess, in whom still lingers
something of the breath of godhood. Thus, in
the Teutonic mytholog}', the solar radiance of the
Aryan gods is concentrated upon Siegfried, the
ancient god of Spring, the waker of life, now a
mortal hero, and upon Brynhilda, the daughter
of a god, now a woman. Before this glorious
pair pale even the gods themselves and retire in-
to the dusk of their sombre night."
* *

Sieglinda, after leaving the Valkyrs, as seen in
the last act of the preceding drama, arrives in the
forest where Fafner, the dragon, guards the Nib-
lung's Hoard. After Siegfried's birth she is


found by Mime, the Nibelung, Alberich's half-
brother, who has made himself a dwelling in a
cave near to the dragon's hole, waiting for an
opportunity to get possession of the hoard, the
ring and the tarnhelmet. Sieglinda dies, and
IMime brings the child up. The dwarf knows
that the boy is a Volsung, that he will become a
great hero, and he thinks to use him for his own
ends ; for he intends that Siegfried shall slay the
dragon, so that he may get possession of the
treasures himself. The action of the first part of
the Siegfried drama takes place in the interior of
an immense cavern, Mime's smithy, through the
openings of which are seen the green tree" of the
forest beyond. Mime is busy about his work-
place. There is an anvil, there are pincers,
a:nd tongs, and hammers, and a trough made out
of the half of a tree stump, and on the hearth a
fire glows, as it generally does in village smithies,
and behind this a bellows of primitive construc-
tion. Siegfried is an untameable pupil in Mime's
eyes, for he takes delight in proving his strength
on the smith's wrought swords, which he always
manages to break in two. As a youth Siegfried
knows no fear, and once during the act he comes
irito the smithy with a large live bear, which he
has captured in the forest. He frightens Mime
by threatening to let the animal upon him, but
finally gives the brute its freedom, laughing in
the unconsciousness of his strength.

Then follows a scene between Mime and Wo-
tan, who appears as The Wanderer, wrapped in
a long blue mantle, wearing the slouched hat
that conceals his missing eye. The two hold
converse about the world and its dwellers and
rulers, and the scene is made interesting by the
work of the orchestra, recalling as it were, in the
fashion of the Greek chorus, the events that
have preceded the present drama, and reminding
the listener of the significance of the personages
of the story. Siegfried returns. He compels
Mime to tell him the story of his youth and of
his descent, and of the pieees of the broken sword
that Sieglinda, when dying, had left as her legacy
to the child, and which " only he who had not
learnt to fear could ever weld together again."
He tells Siegfried to attempt the task. So the
young hero goes to work, and in a scene of in-
tense realism begins and completes the fashion-
ing of the sword, Mime all the while rejoicing to
himself at his own cunning, by which through
Siegfried he hopes to become the possessor of
the treasures, first allowing Siegfried to slay the
dragon, and then killing the victor by means of a
poisoned drink. The scene of the welding of the
sword is a magnificent one. When the blade
is completed Siegfried with one blow cuts Mi-
me's anvil in two. With the sword he will slay the
dragon in the attempt to learn what fear is, and
then go out into the world in quest of adventures.

The second act takes place in the midst of a
forest, before a large cave. The- entire stage is
covered with rocks. A little to the right is a
tall linden-tree whose full foliaged branches
rise up beyond the range of sight. Natural steps
lead up to the mouth of the cave, around the
opening of which the rocks are trodden bare,
for the monster comes out now and then to

bask in the sunshine, or to watch for passing
prey. When the curtain is drawn aside we
see Alberich (Mime's half-brother) in the
gloom, leaning against a rock, waiting for an
opportunity to secure the treasure from the dra-
gon. A deep red glow among the forest trees
announces the approach of Wotan, the Wanderer.
A duet of some pages ensues between the two.
The day breaks in the forest, and Mime appears,
showing Siegfried the way to the cave. The .
youthful hero is clad as before, only he has girded
on his sword "Rescue," with which he is to slay
the dragon. A little silver horn is slung over
his shoulder. Mime then leaves Siegfried alone
to his fate, and betakes himself to a distance,
from whence he can look with safety to himself
on the approaching conflict.

A scene of peculiarly Wagnerian conception
follows, a charmful, fairy story set in music,
painting and poetry. Siegfried sits down beneath
the linden-tree, and left alone with his thoughts,
begins to muse about his parents, wondering how
his father and mother looked when they were in
life, the orchestra the while, with its duties of
the ancient chorus, telling the audience who
they were in the motives which were heard in
" The Valkyr" whenever Siegmund or Sieglinda
appeared. The thought of his mother awakens
in him a longing for love, for some " comely
companion," for whom he has lured in vain with
the tones of his horn in the forest. He revels
in the beauties of the scene before him. The sun
is trembling upon the leaves of the trees, and all
is still except the mysterious murmur of the for-
est which is about awakening to life. "The
music which accompanies the scene," says Ben-
net, "serves as a bright example of Wagner's
wondrous power of depicting nature, of exciting
in the hearts of his hearers the same emotions
which a picture of the surrounding scenery
would do, and at the same time of revealing to
them what is passing in Siegfried's mind as he
muses within himself." "The scene," says
HuefFer, "forms an idyllic episode of the sweetest
charm, and the mysterious life and whir of the
forest on a summer's morning has been rendered
by Wagner in an orchestral piece of almost sym-
phonic import and replete with romantic emo-
tion." The music of the scene is known as the
Waldweben, a word which has been inadequately
translated as "Voices of the Forest." It is des-
criptive of the mysterious weaving or tremor of
sunshine falling through the forest foliage upon
the sward, and the awaking of nature, animate and
inanimate, in the woods bythe "light that leaps
and runs and revels," — heralding the dawn of

Lying there Siegfried's attention is attracted to
the twittering of birds in the trees of the forest,
and especially to one songster up in the branches
of the big linden-tree above him. He naively
wishes that he could understand the language of
his feathered friend, for surely he would tell him
of his mother whom he has never seen. He
springs up, and with his sword cuts a reed, from
which he fashions a rude flute, thinking that if he
can imitate the bird's notes he may be able to
understand what it says as well. But he can


only produce some discordant sounds. So he
takes up his silver liorn and blows a few charm-
ing notes that resound far through the forest.
The song of the bird is, however, as incomprehen-
sible to him as before. But the horn has awak-
ened the monster Fafner, the dragon, who glares
fiercely from the space in front of his cave upon
the daring intruder. Then the struggle between
the young hero and the mons'' r begins. The
dragon is slain, and as Siegfiied withdraws his
sword, blood spins from the brute's body upon
his finger, which he involuntarily puts into his
mouth. And as he stands there he listens again,
and lo ! he understands the words that his feather-
ed friend is saying, and from the high branches of
the linden-tree he hears a beautiful voice (in the
first Bayreuth performances, Frl. Lilli Lehmann's)
telling him of the treasures concealed in the cave,
of the mysterious ring and tarnhelmet, possessing
which he can hold tbe wield of the world At the
same time he is informed of Mime's intended

While Siegfried goes to search among the
treasures for the ring and the tarnhelmet, Alberich
and Mime who have been lurking close by, ap-
pear upon the scene. They meet and quarrel,
and Alberich leaves, threatening the dwarf. On
Sieg'"r ed returning, Mime approaches him with
a horn containing the drink by which he hopes
to make the hero unconscious and thus secure
the ring and the treasure for himself; but having
been warned of the dwarf's intentions with one
blow of his sword he strikes the treacherous
smith to the ground. After casting Mime's body
into the dragon's cave, Siegfried again seats him-
s If beneath the linden-tree. And as he lies
•4here, amid the great forest's stillness, he resumes
converse with tlie bird, which tells him of

" Ha, Siegfried has slain the slippery dwarf ;
I know where he'd find him the fairest of women ;
She sleeps on the cloud-capt heights,
A fire flames fierce round her hall ;

Could he pass through the fire,

A fair bride he would find,
And Brynhilda then would be his.

The bird flutters down, hovers a mornent over
^•'^gtried's head and flies away. "Thus will the
■way be pointtd out," he exclaims. "Whither
tM£U fliest, I will follow." And as he hastens
after the bird, the curtain falls upon the mar-
vellous scene from fairy land.

The opening scene of the third act represents
the foot ol a high cliff. It is night, a storm rages,
ihe lightniog flashes, and the thunder is echoed
from peak to peak. Wotan, the Wanderer ap-
pears and invokes the primitive goddess Erda,
who appears, surrounded by a mysterious halo.
The main point of Wotan's narrative is of the joy
he feels in knowing that Siegfried has wrested
the Ring from the powers of evil. The god feels
that the end is at hand ; that "his law and will
are superseded by a new impulse," that of free
human action, his own creation. " He resigns,"
says Hueffer, "the wield of the world and its joys
to youth and spontaneity unimpaired by the
shackles of traditional law. In this voluntary
act of resignation lies the catharsis, the expiration
of Wotan. Yet when he meets Siegfried on his

way to Brynhilda's rock, and the young hero,
impatient of delay, treats the unknown stranger's
advice with scorn, the old pride once more is
roused in his bosom," and he attempts to bar the
way with his spear. " Tremble before the guard-
ian of tne rocks," he says." "My might holds in
her sleep the slumbering maid ; whoever shall
wake her, whoever shall win her, makes me
powerless forever. A sea of fire surrounds her ;
whoever would possess the bride must pass
through the raging flames. Gaze at the heights.
See there the light ; the blinding glow, the scorch-
ing clouds. A sea of fire illumines thy head; 'twill
scorch and devour thee! — Away then, raving
child." The entire side of the high rocky cliff be-
comes gradually concealed by the flames and
smoke. "Stand back, thou boaster," Siegfried re-
plies. "To reach Brynhilda I will pass through
the flames." Wotan bars the way with his spear,
which however, Siegfried, with one blow of his
sword breaks in two. "Go then," Wotan ex-
claims. "I cannot longer prevent thee." From
every crevice and rock issue vast volumes of
flames, enveloping the cliff in a deeper glow.
But Siegfried heeds not the terrors of the fire. He
sets the silver bugle to his lips, and dashes
up the steep. For a moment, halfway up the
rocks, he stops to call out the awakening echoes.
Gradually the flames fill up the entire scene, and
we see nothing more ; only in the orchestra, we
hear the exaulting sounds of a bugle announcing
that Siegfried has passed through the circle of

The clouds lift, the glow subsides and we gaze
on another scene — Brynhilda sleeping just as
Wotan left her, with closed helmet, and the long
bright shield covering her bod}' ; and to the left,
beneath a clump of fir-trees, Grani, her steed, also
sleeping. The orchestra reminds us of the scene
of enchantment when Brynhilda was placed
lovingly by All-father to her long rest. Then a
grand figure is seen on the high rocks at the
background. It is Siegfried, who has scaled the
cliff, and gazes now in awed astonishment upon
the scene below him. Then he sees Brynhilda,
in brilliant harness, sleeping beneath the fir. He
thinks it is the figure of a man in armor ; he
approaches softly ; lifts the helm, severs the rings
of the cuirass, to discover that the slumbering
form is that of a woman. With a kiss he awakens
Brynhilda to life. The Valkyr opens her eyes,
and in ecstatic accents greets the sun, the day,
the gods and the world, and the hero who has
called her awake. A love duet of thrilling power
and beauty follows. Through the long scene, the
music leads from delight to delight — from
Siegfrieds yearning for his mother to the great
passionate outburst of love between the two
heroic beings, until finally, the two hearts, with
their questionings and answering^ are joined to-
gether in exulting joy and in delicious harmon}-.
Siegfried has learnt to fear and to love. Brynhilda
renounces the joys of Walhalla for the Awakener.
The shield-maiden has become a woman. She
sings, as Schure expresses it, the " c/tant dti cygne
de la vierge.'' She exchanges the heritage of
divinity for the right to love and to be loved.

J. P. J.


ttoing of t\it Storrrit.

(The home of Mime, the dwarf. A large rocky
cave, with natural openings leading out to the
forest. In it a large smithy's hearth built up of
rocks, the bellows alone being artificial. A rude
chimney is built up leading to an opening through
the roof. A large anvil and other appliances of
a smithy s workshop. When the curtain is
raised, Mime is seen seated at the anvil, ham-
mering, with constantly increasing dissatisfaction,
upon a sword. Finally he petulantly ceases
work altogether.)


Torment and trouble,

Toil withotit end!

The finest sword

That ever I forged,

In a giant's fist

Firm were found;

But the mannerless yovith

For whom it was made.
Will twist and break it in twain
As though 'twere a toy for a child.

(He throws the sword upon the anvil, sets his
arms akimbo and gazes upon the ground.)

A sword there is

That he cannot shatter: —

Rescue's broken

Blade could not break;

If I the wondrous

Weapon could weld,

But which my craft

And cunning defies!
Were for him the weapon once welded,
My work would then win its reward!

(He sinks further back and lets his head sink
lower, as if pondering deeply.)

Fafner, the dragon fierce,

Lurks in the gloomy forest;

With his ponderous carcase's weight
Good ward he holds
O'er the Niblung's hoard!

Yet Siegfried's fiery strength
Could strike down Fafner the fierce,

And the Niblung'-s ring

Were wrested for me.
One sword can serve him alone.
And Rescue must e'en do the deed,
By Siegfried unswervingly swung: —

Yet I cannot make me

This marvellous sword!
(Greatly discouraged, he resumes his work.

Torment and trouble,

Toil without end!

The finest sword

That ever I forged

Would never do

For the daring deed!

At the boy's behest

I hustle and hammer away: —
He smashes to smithers them all,
And carps if I don't keep on.

(Siegfried, clad in wild forest dress, wear-
ing a silver horn slung by a chain, bursts im-
petuously into the hut. He has captured a bear,
which he has tethered by means of a withy, and
drives it with exuberant rudeness upon Mime.
Terrified, Mime lets the sword fall, and seeks
safety behind the forge. Siegfried urges the
bear to follow him.)


Hoyho! Hoyho!
Eat him! £at him!
Tear him to pieces
The pestilent smith!

(He laughs immoderatety.


Off with the brute!
Why bring him here ?


kl^mkitfn )at$ Stljtoertts.

(Mime's Werkstatte. Theil einer Felsenhohle.
Natiirlich gebildete Eingange stehen dem Walde
zu oifen. An der Hinterwand steht ein grosser
Schmiedeherd, aus Felsstiicken natiirlich ge-
formt; kiinstlich ist nur der grosse Blasebalg: die
rohe Esse geht — ebenfalls natiirlich — durch das
Felsdach hinauf. Ein sehr grosser Ambos und
andere Schmiedegerathschaften. Als der Vor-
hang aufgeht, sitzt Mime am Ambos, und ham-
mert mit wachsender Unruhe an einem Schwerte:
endlich halt er unmuthig ein.)


Zwangvolle Plage!

Mlih' ohne Zweck!

Das beste Schwert,

das je ich geschweisst,

in der Rieseii Fausten

hielte es fest:

doch dem ich'sgeschraiedet,

der schmahliche Knabe,
er knickt und schmeisst es entzwei,
als schiif ich Kindergeschmeid!

(Er wirft das Schwert unmuthig auf den Ambos,
stemmt die Arme ein und blickt sinnend zu

Es giebt ein Schwert,

das er nicht zerschwange:

Nothung's Triimmer

zertrotzt' er mir nicht,

konnt' ich die starken

Stiicken schweissen,

die meine Kunst

nicht zu kitten weiss.
Konnt' ich's dem Kiihnen Schmieden,
meiner Schmach erlangt' ich da Lohn! —

(Er sinkt tiefer zuriick, und neigt sinnend das

Fafner, der wilde Wurm,
lagert im finst'ren Wald;
mit des furchtbaren Leibes Wucht

der Nibhmgen^Hort

hiitet er dort.

Siegfried's kindischer Kraft
erlage wohl Fafner 's Leib:

des Niblungen Ring

errJinge ich mir.
Ein Schwert nur taugt zu der That;
nur Nothung niitzt meinem Neid,
wenn Siegfried sehrend ihn schwingt: —

und nicht kann ich's schweissen,

Nothung das Schwert! —

(Er fahrt in hochstem Unmuth wieder fort zu

Zwangvolle Plage!

Miih' ohne Zweck!

Das beste Schwert,

das je ich geschweisst,

nie taugt es je

zu der einz'gen That!

Ich tapp'r' und hamm're nur,

weil der Knab' es heischt:
er knickt und schmeisst es entzwei,
und schmahlt doch, schmied' ich ihm

(Siegfried in wilder Waldkleidung, mit einem
silbernen Horn an einer Kette, kommt mit jahem
Ungestiim aus dem Walde herein; er hat einen
grossen Baren mit einem Bastseile gezaumt, und
treibt diesen mit lustigem Uebermuthe gegen
Mime an. Mime'n entsinkt vor Schreck das
Schwert; er fliichtet hinter den Herd; Siegfried
treibt ihm den Baren iiberall nach.)


Hoiho! Hoiho!
Hau' ein! Hau' eiri!
Friss' ihn! Friss' ihn,
den Fratzenschmied!

(Er lacht unbandig.


Fort mit dem Thier!
Was taugt mir der Bar ?



We come in pairs
The better to plague you.
Browny, sniff for the sword.


Oh, take him away!
There is the weapon —
Forged and finished to-day.


Thy skin thereby thou hast saved.

(He releases the bear, and gives it a blow on the
back with the rope.)

Off now, browny,
I need thee no more.

(The bear goes off into the forest.

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