Siegfried is now in possession of the Ring of power, forged by Alberich from the Rhinegold. Unknown to him, others now covet the Ring of power, which gives its owner dominion over all. After consummating his relationship with Brünnhilde, Siegfried’s path takes him to the kingdom of the Gibichungs, but he is unaware of their desire for the Ring. They will stop at nothing to claim it from Siegfried. Gunther, the ruler of the Gibichungs, and his half-brother Hagen, devise a plan to claim the Ring for their own, along with Brünnhilde as Gunther’s wife, and Siegfried as his sister’s husband.
When the plan starts to break down, Hagen decides to kill Siegfried instead, and claim the Ring for himself. Whilst out on a hunting expedition, he stabs Siegfried in the back with his spear. Siegfried’s body is carried back to the Hall of the Gibichungs, and the broken-hearted and betrayed Brünnhilde gives him a hero’s send off, in the form of a funeral pyre. In an act of self-immolation, Brünnhilde leaps into the fire, to be reunited with Siegfried in death.
As the funeral pyre floats on the river, the Rhinemaidens come back to claim what is rightfully theirs, and take the Ring back to the depths of the Rhine. This signals the end for the gods, and Wotan burns Valhalla to the ground, taking down all the gods and heroes with it.
The final piece in Wagner’s epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, Götterdämmerung brings this grand fantasy story to its dramatic end. The world is reborn in fire and flood, as the Ring of power is returned to its watery home at the bottom of the Rhine.
Götterdämmerung guide sections