#On This Day – Vikings

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019


26 June 1870 Richard Wagner’s opera Valkyrie (Die Walkure) premiered in Munich. In Norse mythology the Valkyrie are a group of female spirits, sometimes depicted as daughters of royalty, who choose those who will die in battle and those who will survive. Once chosen the slain are escorted to Valhalla by the Valkyrie. The Valkyrie are mentioned in seven of the poems contained within the Poetic Edda, a collection of anonymous poems written in the 13th century. The poems are one of the most important sources of Norse mythology. In these poems they are described as “ladies of the War Lord”, “ready to ride”, and a number of them are named: Skuld, Skogul, Gunnr, Hildr, Gondul, Geirskogul, Hrist, Mist, Skeggjold, Hlokk, Herfjotur, Goll, Geirahoo, Randgrio, Raogrio, and Reginleif. The names of specific Valkyries can also be found on runestones; the Rok and the Karlevi in Sweden. Famously the Valkyrie’s also appear in the Ride of the Valkyrie, this refers to the beginning of act 3 of Die Walkure, the second of four operas which make up Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle). These operas are loosely based on characters from Norse legend and sagas. The Valkyrie was performed on the 26 June 1870 as a single opera, and introduces the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, Wotans’ (Odin) daughter. The names Wagner attributed to his Valkyrie were his own invention, and the opera itself deals with the origins of Siegfried. The Ring Cycle, which considers the life of Siegfried took twenty seven years to compose and takes a huge fifteen hours to perform in its entirety.

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