℗ © 2013 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin Under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon & Decca Classics, U.S., a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
Deutsche Grammophon presents a new recording of Wagner's Die Walkure (The Valkyrie) by the Vienna State Opera, conducted by leading Wagner interpreter and conductor Christian Thielemann. Thielemann, a longtime protoge of Karajan, was named the Bayreuth Festival Musical Advisor in 2008.
Siegmund - CHRISTOPHER VENTRIS
Hunding - ERIC HALFVARSON
Wotan - ALBERT DOHMEN
Sieglinde - WALTRAUD MEIER
Brunnhilde - KATARINA DALAYMAN
Fricka - JANINA BAECHLE
Gerhilde - ILDIKO RAIMONDI
Ortlinde - ALEXANDRA REINPRECHT
Waltraute - AURA TWAROWSKA
Schwertleite - ZORYANA KUSHPLER
Helmwige - DONNA ELLEN
Siegrune - ULRIKE HELZEL
Grimgerde - MONIKA BOHINEC
Rossweisse - JULIETTE MARS
Plot Synopsis (from included liner notes)
The interior of a dwelling
Fleeing from his enemies, Siegmund shelters in Hunding’s house. Sieglinde, the lady of the house, gives him refreshment. Exhausted, he wants to go on after a short rest, as misfortune pursues him. Sieglinde, strangely moved by his appearance, asks him to stay - he cannot be bringing misfortune to a house where it already exists. Hunding comes home and welcomes the stranger, noticing a facial resemblance between him and Sieglinde. He calls on his guest to give him his name. “Wehwalt” (Woeful), the name Siegmund uses, depicts the sad destiny of his early years – the loss of his family, the fight against overwhelming enemies and his rejection by society. Hunding recognizes Siegmund as the hated enemy he has been pursuing. He will not refuse him hospitality for the night but challenges him to fight the next day. Going out to make the nightcap which Hunding demands, Sieglinde contrives to draw Siegmund’s attention to a place in the trunk of the ash tree round which the house is built. Siegmund, left alone, remembers that his father Walse (actually Wotan under an assumed name) promised he would find a sword in the hour of his greatest need. In the meantime Sieglinde has drugged Hunding’s drink; returning, she tells Siegmund about the sword which once, at her wedding, an “old man” (Wotan again) had buried in the tree, announcing that it would belong to the one who could pull it out. No one has yet succeeded in doing this, but now she knows to whom the sword should rightfully belong. As the moonlight shines in, Siegmund and Sieglinde recognize each other as siblings and lovers. Siegmund wrests the sword from the trunk and names it “Nothung” (Needful). Overcome with passion, Walse’s children fall into an embrace.
Wild mountainous region
Brunnhilde the Valkyrie, daughter of Wotan and Erda, is ordered by Wotan to protect Siegmund during his fight against Hunding. Brunnhilde leaves joyfully. Then Fricka approaches, to demand that Wotan avenge the incest of his two earthly offspring. Wotan, however, sees Siegmund as the “free hero” who alone can recover the Nibelung’s ring, something he himself, bound by treaties, may not accept. But Fricka proves inexorable: Siegmund is not that free hero, but Wotan’s own offspring. Wotan finally bends to Fricka’s will and withdraws protection from Siegmund. Brunnhilde returns. She guesses the outcome of the conversation and implores Wotan to open his heart to her. Wotan confides to Brunnhilde the story of the ring, his own entanglements and the hopelessness of his position. If Alberich ever succeeded in repossessing the ring it would spell Valhalla’s doom. The primeval mother Erda’s words “when Love’s dark enemy begets a son in anger” have prepared Wotan for the downfall of the gods, for Alberich has violated a woman who is carrying his child. Brunnhilde is instructed to do as Fricka wishes. Sieglinde and Siegmund approach, fleeing from Hun ding’s anger. Brunnhilde withdraws. Haunted by guilt and fearful visions, Sieglinde collapses with exhaustion. Her brother watches over her as she sleeps. The Valkyrie returns to announce to Siegmund his impending death and entry into Valhalla. But Siegmund would rather kill his sister than treacherously desert her. Moved to pity, the Valkyrie promises him she will defy Wotan’s latest order. Meanwhile, Hunding has caught up with the fugitives. Siegmund prepares to fight. When Brunnhilde appears at his side to protect him, Wotan himself intervenes; his spear shatters Siegmund’s sword. Disarmed, Siegmund is struck down by Hunding. Brunnhilde gathers up the fragments of Nothung and flees with Sieglinde.
On a mountain peak
The Valkyries gather in order to bring the fallen heroes to Valhalla. The last to appear is Brunnhilde. Fleeing from Wotan with Sieglinde, she asks her sister Valkyries for protection, but they all fear Wotan’s anger. Sieglinde longs to die but, when Brunnhilde tells her that she is carrying Siegmund’s son, she wants deliverance at all costs. Brunnhilde hands her the remains of the sword and advises her to flee to the forest, where Fafner is guarding the Nibelung’s hoard. Wotan has reached the rock. The Valkyries try unsuccessfully to keep their sister out of their father’s sight. Brunnhilde faces Wotan’s judgement; he expels his favourite daughter from the Valkyries’ ranks and strips her of her divine power. She is to sleep on the rock, a defenceless prey to any man who wakes her. The other Valkyries leave, aghast. Brunnhilde justifies deliberately protecting Siegmund against Wotan’s orders – she had merely been carrying out what he originally wanted before he had to submit to Fricka. But Wotan remains inexorable even when Brunnhilde tells him Sieglinde will bear the “free hero” he longs for. He relents only when she asks him for a fire barrier to spare her the cruellest indignity. At his behest a sea of flames is to encircle the rock, penetrable only by one who is freer than himself. Wotan bids an emotional farewell, putting Brunnhilde to sleep. Then he summons Loge to kindle a fire through which only a hero who “fears not the tip of my spear” will be able to walk.
Translation: Robert Jordan