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Gunther


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(Wagner: Götterdämmerung). Bar. King of the Gibichungs, brother of Gutrune and half‐brother of Hagen. Hagen advises Gunther that his standing among his people would be enhanced if he were married and he knows the right bride for him. She is Brünnhilde, who is on a rock surrounded by fire. Gunther is no hero, and cannot see himself breaking through the fire to win his bride, but Hagen assures him that this will be done for him, by none other than Siegfried who, for his pains, will be rewarded with Gutrune's hand in marriage. Siegfried arrives and is welcomed by Gunther as a friend. Gutrune gives Siegfried a drugged drink which makes him forget everything about Brünnhilde and he falls in love with Gutrune. Gunther describes to his visitor his chosen bride and Siegfried happily offers to win her for him. He uses the Tarnhelm to disguise himself as Gunther, sets out, and returns with the reluctant Brünnhilde. The delighted Gunther brings her in to introduce to everyone. She refuses to marry him, considering herself married to Siegfried, despite his apparent betrayal of her. Gunther must hear Siegfried swear on oath that he was not Brünnhilde's husband, before he can either marry her or give his consent to Siegfried's marriage to his sister. Siegfried happily complies, using Hagen's spear on which to swear. Brünnhilde uses the same spear to vow vengeance on Siegfried. Hagen suggests to Gunther that the only way to assuage the embarrassment he has been caused is to ensure Siegfried's death. Gunther is not sure this is the best step, knowing the distress it will cause his sister, but he is too weak to defy both Hagen and Brünnhilde. Out hunting the next day, Hagen kills Siegfried, but not before Gunther has realized that Hagen has used them all to his own ends. Gunther orders his vassals to carry Siegfried's body back to the Gibichung hall. Once there he attempts to prevent Hagen stealing the Ring from the dead Siegfried's finger, but Hagen kills him with his sword. Created (1876) by Eugen Gura.

Subjects: Opera.


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