Brünnhilde the Valkyrie
Patroness of Adultery, Incest and Redemption.
It is the following morning. Siegmund and Sieglinde have fled from Hunding into the mountains. Wotan orders his daughter, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, to prepare for battle in order to help Siegmund kill Hunding in their coming fight. Fricka, Wotan’s consort, now approaches. As the guardian of marriage, she demands the death of Siegmund, who is guilty of both adultery and incest. When Wotan refuses to abandon his “free hero”, Fricka lays bare his self-deception: Siegmund is in no sense independent since his fate has been pre-ordained by Wotan, who has even indirectly led him to find the magic sword.
Wotan, as guardian of oaths, is compelled to punish Siegmund and must now promise to leave him to his fate without any protection. He must also forbid Brünnhilde to aid him in his fight against Hunding. When Fricka has left, Wotan openly expresses his despair, and in the course of a long monologue explains to Brünnhilde the story of the Ring and the curse attached to it. When Brünnhilde shows her reluctance to abandon Siegmund, Wotan threatens her with his terrible anger; he orders her to obey, and storms off. Brünnhilde sadly withdraws. Siegmund and Sieglinde now arrive; Sieglinde, half-crazed with fear, sinks into an exhausted sleep. Brünnhilde appears before Siegmund to announce his forthcoming death and his reception among the heroes of Valhalla.
Siegmund, however, refuses to follow her into Valhalla if Sieglinde cannot accompany him. Brünnhilde is deeply moved that a man can value love higher than the everlasting bliss of Valhalla. She is overcome with compassion as Siegmund, in a fit of despair, prepares to kill his sleeping sister after learning that she bears his child. Brünnhilde prevents him and promises to support him despite Wotan’s command. But in the fight Wotan himself unexpectedly intervenes. His spear shatters the magic sword, Siegmund is killed by Hunding, and Brünnhilde, gathering up the pieces of the sword, hastily leads Sieglinde away to safety. Hunding falls dead at a contemptuous gesture from Wotan, who then hurries after Brünnhilde to punish her disobedience.