“You, who this love in my heart inspired…you were not betrayed—though I broke your command.”
Relatives: Wotan, father; Erda, mother; Valkyries, sister
Appears in: Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung
Main Leitmotif: Valkyrie Cry
Performed by: Iréne Theorin
Compassionate, selfless yet incredibly fierce, Brünnhilde is the protagonist of the story and is considered Wagner’s most noble character. Brünnhilde is the daughter of Wotan and Erda, the earth goddess. She, along with her sisters, are Valkyries—warrior maidens who speed through the sky to bring bodies of fallen heroes from the battlefield to Valhalla. There these heroes are revived and protect the gods against their enemies.
Brünnhilde is Wotan’s favorite daughter and their bond of affection is very close. Yet unlike her father, she believes love is the most important value to uphold and it is this belief that ultimately severs their relationship. When Wotan, bound by his duties, orders Brünnhilde not to protect his son Siegmund in his battle with Hunding, Brünnhilde goes against her father’s wishes and tries to save Siegmund, whom she knows Wotan loves dearly. Despite having incurred Wotan’s anger, Brünnhilde continues to defend love, protecting Siegmund’s cherished wife Sieglinde from his wrath.
Brünnhilde’s courage and self-sacrifice restore the universe to its natural order. Choosing to join her beloved husband Siegfried in death, Brünnhilde immolates herself to free the world from the ring’s curse, banishing wealth and greed and proving that the real power in life is the redeeming force of love.