The second opera in the Ring Cycle holds special appeal for audiences with its dramatic power and remarkable music, including the famous ‘Ride of the Valkyries’. After Das Rheingold’s rarefied realm of gods, monsters and nature spirits, in Die Walküre Wagner plunges headlong into the highly emotional world of humanity.
Love animates the actions of all the leading characters: Wotan, who wants to protect his children but is forced to forsake them; his twin offspring Siegmund and Sieglinde who fall passionately in love; and his warrior daughter Brünnhilde, who defies Wotan by trying to protect the twins. He punishes her by stripping her of her immortality and putting her to sleep surrounded by a wall of flames that only the greatest hero can brave.
|Associate Directors||Kate Champion|
|Set Designer||Robert Cousins|
|Costume Designer||Alice Babidge|
|Lighting Designer||Damien Cooper|
|Associate Conductor||Anthony Legge|
|Assistant Conductor||Tahu Matheson|
|Assistant Directors||Greg Eldridge|
|Assistant to the lighting designer||James Lipari|
|Movement revival||Frankie Snowdon|
The Ring Cycle requires huge orchestral forces. The Melbourne Ring Orchestra will unite 135 musicians. Opera Australia's Melbourne performance partner, Orchestra Victoria, will be joined by outstanding musicians from national and international orchestras, including the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra.
Running time: approximately 5 hours & 45 minutes, including two intervals.
The first interval is 75 minutes long and will start at approximately 6:10pm. The second interval is 40 minutes long and will start at approximately 9pm.
Lockouts apply. Latecomers may not be admitted until interval.
Performed in German with English surtitles.
Melbourne Ring Cycle Principal Supporters
Maureen Wheeler AO and Tony Wheeler AO
Melbourne Ring Cycle Major Supporters
Hans and Petra Henkell
Opera Australia Government Partners
Opera Australia Principal Partner
As a storm rages, Siegmund the Wälsung, exhausted from pursuit by enemies in the forest, stumbles into a house for shelter. Sieglinde finds the stranger lying by the hearth, and the two feel an immediate attraction. But they are soon interrupted by Sieglinde’s husband, Hunding, who asks the stranger who he is. Calling himself ‘Woe-full’, Siegmund tells of a life filled with sorrow, only to learn that Hunding is a kinsman of his foes. Hunding challenges the stranger to combat the next day. Left alone, Siegmund calls on his father, Wälse, for the sword he once promised him. Sieglinde reappears, having given Hunding a sleeping potion. She tells of her wedding, at which a one-eyed stranger thrust into a tree a sword that thereafter resisted every effort to pull it out. Sieglinde confesses her unhappiness to Siegmund, whereupon he ardently embraces her and vows to free her from her forced marriage to Hunding. Siegmund compares their feeling to the marriage of love and spring. Sieglinde asks if his father was really ‘Wolf’, as he said earlier. When Siegmund gives his father’s name as Wälse instead, Sieglinde knows for certain that he is the Wälsung for whom the sword is intended. She tells him that he is her twin brother and Siegmund draws the sword from the tree.
Wotan instructs his daughter Brünnhilde to protect Siegmund in the impending fight with Hunding. Brünnhilde warns Wotan that his wife, Fricka, the guardian of marriage, is approaching. Fricka arrives demanding the punishment of Siegmund and Sieglinde, who have committed adultery and incest. She knows that Wotan, disguised as the mortal man Wälse, fathered Siegmund and Sieglinde. Wotan protests that he requires a free hero (i.e. one not ruled by him) to aid his plans, but Fricka retorts that Siegmund is not a free hero. He is a pawn in a game invented by Wotan, who is himself severely compromised by his promiscuity. Backed into a corner, Wotan agrees to forbid Brünnhilde to let Siegmund win the battle against Hunding, ensuring the death of his beloved child Siegmund.
Siegmund and Sieglinde enter. Sieglinde faints in guilt and exhaustion. Brünnhilde approaches Siegmund and tells him of his impending death. Siegmund refuses to follow Brünnhilde to Valhalla when she tells him Sieglinde cannot accompany him there. He draws his sword and threatens to kill both Sieglinde and himself. Impressed by his passionate love, Brünnhilde relents and agrees to grant victory to Siegmund instead of Hunding.
Hunding arrives and attacks Siegmund. Brünnhilde urges Siegmund to trust in his sword ‘Nothung’ but Wotan appears and shatters Nothung with his spear. While Siegmund is disarmed Hunding stabs him to death. Wotan looks down on Siegmund’s body, grieving, while Brünnhilde gathers up the fragments of Nothung and flees with Sieglinde. Wotan strikes Hunding dead with a dismissive gesture, and angrily sets out in pursuit of his disobedient daughter.
The Valkyries, preparing slain heroes destined for Valhalla, are surprised at the arrival of their sister, Brünnhilde, with Sieglinde. When they hear she is fleeing Wotan’s wrath, they refuse to protect her. Brünnhilde tells Sieglinde that she bears Siegmund’s child. She receives the pieces of the sword from Brünnhilde and thanks her rescuer as she rushes off into the forest to hide near Fafner’s cave, a place safe from Wotan. When the god appears, he sentences Brünnhilde to become a mortal woman. Brünnhilde pleads that in disobeying his orders she was really doing what he wished. Wotan will not relent: she must lie in sleep, vulnerable to the first man who finds her. But as his anger abates she asks the favour of being surrounded in sleep by a wall of fire that only the bravest hero can penetrate. Wotan kisses Brünnhilde’s eyes with sleep and mortality before summoning Loge, the spirit of fire, to encircle the rock.
"Its beauty and dramatic power were superbly realised."
"As the doomed twin lovers, Bradley Daley and Amber Wagner are revelatory."
"Thoughtful second part to Armfield's Ring transports us to soprano heaven."
"In a truly thrilling performance, American soprano Lise Lindstrom electrifies the stage as Wotan’s cherished daughter Brünnhilde."
Choose from a wide selection of five, four or three-star hotels, suite-hotels and self-contained apartments in the Melbourne CBD and Southbank area. 8 nights from AUD$1,299 per person, twin-share, including daily breakfast (where available), special welcome reception, pre-performance talks, A Day with the Ring symposium and a priority booking service for sightseeing tours.
For further information visit renaissancetours.com.au or telephone toll-free 1300 727 095 (within Australia) or 0800 403 621 (from New Zealand).
See all available travel package partners.
Ein Königsmahl (A King's Feast)
Hugh Williamson Room
Four-course desgustion with matched wines
$250* per guest, per meal
Speisen unter den Sternen (Dine Amongst the Stars)
Three-course meal with matched wines
$140* per guest, per meal
Siegfried’s Picknick Korb (Siegfried's Hamper)
Around Arts Centre Melbourne
A hamper of savoury and sweet food
$45* per hamper for one
$80* per hamper for two
More to eat and drink
Arts Centre Melbourne has a range of eateries that will be open during The Ring Cycle. Find out more.
*a transaction fee of $7.95 applies
'Richard Wagner and the Valhalla state of mind' by Roger Scruton
Recommended by Maureen Wheeler and Lyndon Terracini, this article by philosopher Roger Scruton discusses why The Ring Cycle is so important: it's "a story of the gods for people who have no gods to believe in."
'The Perfect Wagnerite' by George Bernard Shaw
This controversial and entertaining Marxist reading of the Ring by playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw remains compelling reading, even if you don't agree with him.
'The Ring and the Rings' by Alex Ross
One ring to rule them all: Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise) explores the links between Wagner, Tolkien, and Peter Jackson.
'Secret Passage: Decoding ten bars in Wagner's Ring' by Alex Ross
Alex Ross takes a look at one of the hundreds of tiny moments that makes up The Ring Cycle, "it is an affair of sidelong glances, compassionate shrugs, paralyzing hesitations, callous joys, comforting sorrows, and, beneath it all, endless yearning."
Interviews with the cast and creative team behind The Melbourne Ring Cycle
Deborah Humble talks to the people on stage and behind the scenes.
'With This Ring': An interview with Assistant Director, Roger Press
Shamistha de Soysa speaks to Roger Press about his experience working on The Melbourne Ring Cycle.
Podcast: The Ring and I
Listen to this excellent special episode of the wonderful Radiolab podcast about how and why The Ring Cycle has permeated our culture.