(Wagner: Götterdämmerung). Bass. Half‐brother of Gunther and Gutrune, illegitimate son of Alberich. They all share the same mother (Grimhilde, according to Gunther). Hagen is the evil one of the family. He will do anything and use anyone to gain the gold which his father stole from the Rhinemaidens. To this end, he suggests that Gunther should marry Brünnhilde and Gutrune can then marry Siegfried—thus the treasure comes into the family. The fact that Brünnhilde and Siegfried are already married to each other does not present a problem to Hagen. When Siegfried arrives at the Gibichung Hall on his travels, the plan is put into action. First Siegfried is drugged and this makes him forget everything about Brünnhilde and fall in love with Gutrune. Siegfried, now disguised as Gunther by use of the magic Tarnhelm, is dispatched to collect Brünnhilde. While they are away and Hagen is apparently asleep, he is visited by his father, Alberich, who tells his son they will together inherit control of the world from Wotan, providing Hagen remains loyal to him. They must obtain the Ring before Brünnhilde carries out Wotan's wishes and gives it back to the Rhinemaidens. He makes Hagen swear to remain faithful to him. When Siegfried returns, followed by Gunther with the confused and distressed Brünnhilde, a double wedding is planned. Hagen offers his spear on which Siegfried can swear that he was never Brünnhilde's husband, and she uses the same spear to take an oath of vengeance—may this spear bring about Siegfried's death, she says. Thus Hagen is managing to turn those who once loved against each other. On a hunting trip the next day, Hagen kills Siegfried and tries to take the Ring from his finger. Gunther intervenes, and Hagen kills him too. Back at their hall Hagen admits—boasts would be a better word—that he killed Siegfried. He again reaches out to take the Ring, now from the dead Siegfried's finger, but to his horror the corpse lifts his arm in the air and Hagen retreats. After Brünnhilde has started the fire in Siegfried's funeral pyre and the Rhine has overflowed to quench the flames, Hagen sees the Rhinemaidens in the river holding aloft the Ring which Brünnhilde has at last thrown to them. He leaps into the water and the Rhinemaidens grab him and pull him down to the bottom of the river. Aria: Hier sitz ich zur Wacht (‘Here I sit and watch’); trio (with Brünnhilde and Gunther): So soll es sein (‘So shall it be’).
Hagen is the most wicked character in the whole of the Ring. Many of the others behave badly at some point of the saga, usually motivated by greed, but only Hagen is truly evil through and through. This is a challenging role for a deep, dark‐voiced, bass. Famous Hagens include Édouard De Reszke, Richard Mayr, Walter Soomer, Josef von Manowarda, Alexander Kipnis, Ludwig Hofmann, Ludwig Weber, Josef Greindl, Gottlob Frick, Karl Ridderbusch, Fritz Hübner, Aage Haugland, John Tomlinson, Eric Halfvarson, and Kurt Rydl. Created (1876) by Gustav Siehr.