A tale in images of Der Ring des Nibelungen for which inspiration was sought in Steampunk. The images were generated with AI software.
While Brünnhilde was sleeping, Sieglinde, whom she rescued, gave birth to a child. That childbirth Sieglinde did not survive. Ignorant of his parentage, her son, Siegfried, has grown up with the dwarf Mime.
Mime is a clever dude. Good with tools too. But with forging Notung's shards together, he struggles. For the difficult tasks, however, he has Siegfried, the archetypal strong boy, whom he intends to use to eventually get the ring and the treasure of the Nibelungen,
Young Siegfried is a man whose strength is matched only by his foolhardiness. The latter is, to be clear, a virtue. It perhaps requires some mental flexibility to go along with the idea Wagner apparently had of a hero. That he has Siegmund (perhaps the only one in this entire history worthy of the qualification hero) followed in the story by the gullible Siegfried, but in this opera cycle it happens. And who are we to second-guess the master here.
After killing his brother, Fafner retreated to the forest where, with the help of the Tarnhelm, he transformed himself into a dragon train. Loaded with the Nibelungen hoard, he rampages through the dark depths of the forest. And no one dares to come close.
Did no one dare to approach Fafner? No, there was one person who dared to face Fafner without fear. Siegfried, the brat who did not even know what fear was (and therefore could not be brave) smashes the dragon locomotive to pieces with Notung.
After that act of demolition a Waldvogel pops up. Besides telling Siegfried about the existence of Brünnhilde, she tells the pure fool about the ring that is there among all those treasures. Why does the Waldvogel do that? Has that creature of the woods been sleeping the previous operas or something? As we saw at the beginning (after Wotan mutilated the world ash tree) nature is corrupted - and those who represent nature not to be trusted.
Purified by dragon steam, Siegfried can also read Mime's mind now. He kills the dwarf on his way out.
They are like a tired old couple. He's too tired and disappointed to be mad at her. And she, despite being the Goddes of the Earth, doesn't know what to say to him anymore. After his farewell to Brunnhilde, Wotan is no longer himself. As Wanderer he still wanders through this opera, but the end he's been longing for since the second act of Die Walküre can't come soon enough for him.
When Siegfried crosses Wotan's/Wanderer's path, an important part of the latter's wish for the end is about to be fulfilled. When Siegfried recognizes in Wotan the man who had a hand in the death of his father Siegmund, he shows, for the first time, some emotion. He smashes the spear of the chief god into pieces, after which Wotan calls it quits. From then on Wotan's presence in this story is reduced to the presence of his two ravens, Huginn and Muninn.
Siegfried continues on his way and arrives at the old factory that the Waldvogel told about. He smashes a door and enters the factory hall. There is an oven at the back against a high wall. Blazing with flames. He goes looking for a pair of asbestos gloves.
The dragon could not frighten him, but now that Siegfried sees a woman for the first time, he is shocked. What to do in such a case? Kiss her awake, like in fairy tales? Allright then. While Brunnhilde, upon waking up, mistakes the lamps in the factory hall for the sun, Siegfried is already preparing for the final duet.
They are a lovely couple, Brünnhilde and Siegfried, the aunt and her cousin. In a frenzied, passionate, insane duet, they scream each other from one climax to the next. Love and death, death and love. And laughing of course. Afterwards they fall into each other's arms. As we saw with Siegmund and Sieglinde, also Siegfried and Brünnhilde like to keep it in the family when it comes to love.
And while the new love couple snuggles together, we prepare for the final: Götterdämmerung.
Software: StableDiffusion XL, Leonardo, Photoshop
- Wouter de Moor