This clip is 15 minutes long.  It is the Immolation scene from Götterdämerung.  I won’t put anything else in this post because this performance is enough.  It is the culmination of the Ring, and it is magnificent. It is sung by arguably the greatest Wagnerian soprano of the 20th century – Frida Leider.  When hearing Leider’s voice for the first time, sometimes one is overcome that a human being could produce such free sounds.  There is no one alive today who can sing like this.  The clip starts a little before the Immolation Scene.

Wagner, Götterdämerung, Starke Scheite, Frida Leider youtube

 

Brünnhilde
(to the Vassals)
Mighty logs I bid you now pile
on high by the river shore!
Bright and fierce kindle a fire;
let the noblest hero’s corse in its flames be
consumed.
His steed bring to me here,
that with me his lord he may follow:
for my body burneth with holiest longing my
hero’s honor to share.
Fulfill Brünnhild’s behest.
(During the following, the young men raise a huge
funeral pyre of logs before the hall, near the bank of
the Rhine: women decorate this with coverings on
which they strew plants and flowers.)

(Brünnhilde becomes again absorbed in contemplation
of Siegfried’s dead face. Her features take
gradually a softer and brighter expression.)
Brünnhilde
(zu den Mannen)
Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort
am Rande des Rhein’s zu Hauf’!
Hoch und hell lod’re die Gluth,
die den edlen Leib des hehresten Helden
verzehrt.
Sein Roß führet daher,
daß mit mir dem Recken es folge:
denn des Helden heiligste Ehre zu theilen
verlangt mein eigener Leib.
Vollbringt Brünnhildes Wort!
(Die jüngeren Männer errichten, während des
Folgen den, vor der Halle, nahe am Rheinufer, einen
mächtigen Scheiterhaufen: Frauen schmücken die-
sen dann mit Decken, auf welche sie Kräuter und Blumen streuen.)

(Brünnhilde versinkt von Neuem in die Betrachtung des Antlitzes
der Leiche Siegfrieds. Ihre Mienen
nehmen eine immer sanftere Verklärung an.)
Like rays of sunshine streameth his light:
the purest was he, who hath betrayed!
In wedlock traitor, true in friendship;
from his heart’s own true love, only beloved one,
barred was he by his sword.
Truer than his were oaths ne’er spoken;
faithful as he, none ever held promise;
purer than his, love ne’er was plighted:
Yet oaths hath he scorned, bonds hath he broken,
the faithfullest love none so hath betrayed!
Know ye why that was?
(looking upward)
Oh ye, of vows the heavenly guardians!
Turn now your eyes on my grievous distress;
behold your eternal disgrace!
To my plaint give ear, thou mighty god!
Through his most valiant deed,
by thee so dearly desired,
didst thou condemn him to endure
the doom that on thee had fallen;
he, truest of all, must betray me,
that wise a woman might grow!
Know I now all thy need?
All things, all things, all now know I.
All to me is revealed.
Wings of thy ravens wave around me;
with tidings long desired,
I send now thy messengers home.
Rest thou, rest thou, o god!
(She makes a sign to the Vassals to lift Siegfried’s
body onto the pyre; at the same time she draws the
ring from Siegfried’s finger and looks at it meditatively.)
Wie Sonne lauter strahlt mir sein Licht:
der Reinste war er, der mich verrieth!
Die Gattin trügend, treu dem Freunde,
von der eig’nen Trauten einzig ihm theuer,
schied er sich durch sein Schwert.
Ächter als er schwur Keiner Eide;
treuer als er hielt Keiner Verträge;
lautrer als er liebte kein And’rer:
Und doch, alle Eide, alle Verträge,
die treueste Liebe, trog keiner wie Er!
Wiß’t ihr, wie das ward?
(nach oben blickend)
O ihr, der Eide ewige Hüter!
Lenkt euren Blick auf mein blühendes Leid;
erschaut eure ewige Schuld!
Meine Klage hör’, du hehrster Gott!
Durch seine tapferste That,
dir so tauglich erwünscht,
weihtest du den, der sie gewirkt,
dem Fluche dem du verfielest:
Mich mußte der Reinste verrathen,
daß wissend würde ein Weib!
Weiß ich nun was dir frommt?
Alles, Alles, Alles weiß ich,
Alles ward mir nun frei.
Auch deine Raben hör’ ich rauschen;
mit bang ersehnter Botschaft
send’ ich die Beiden nun heim.
Ruhe, ruhe, du Gott!
(Sie winkt den Mannen Siegfrieds Leiche auf den
Scheitehaufen zu tragen; zugleich zieht sie von Sieg-
frieds Finger den Ring ab, und betrachtet ihn sinnend.)
My heritage yields now the hero.
Accursed charm! Terrible ring!
My hand grasps thee, and gives thee away.
Ye sisters wise who dwell in the waters,
give ear, ye sorrowing Rhine maids,
good counsel lives in your redes:
what ye desire I leave to you:
now from my ashes take ye your treasure!
Let fire, burning this hand,
cleanse, too, the ring from its curse!
Ye in the flood, wash it away,
and purer preserve your shining gold
that to your sorrow was stol’n.
(She has put the ring on her finger and now turns
to the pile of logs on which Siegfried’s body lies
stretched. She takes a great firebrand
from one of the men.)

(waving the firebrand and pointing to the
background)
Fly home, ye ravens! tell your lord the tidings
that here on the Rhine ye have learned!
To Brünnhilde’s rock first wing your flight!
there burneth Loge:
straight way bid him to Walhall!
For the end of godhood draweth now near.
So cast I the brand
on Walhall’s glittering walls.
(She flings the brand on the woodpile, which
quickly breaks out into bright flames. Two ravens fly
up from the rock and disappear in the background.)

(Brünnhilde perceives her horse, which has just
been led in by two men.)
Grane, my steed, I greet thee, friend!
Mein Erbe nun nehm’ ich zu eigen.
Verfluchter Reif! Furchtbarer Ring!
Dein Gold fass’ ich und geb’ es nun fort.
Der Wassertiefe weise Schwestern,
des Rheines schwimmende Töchter,
euch dank’ ich redlichen Rath:
was ihr begehrt, ich geb’ es euch:
aus meiner Asche nehmt es zu eigen!
Das Feuer, das mich verbrennt,
rein’ge vom Fluche den Ring!
Ihr in der Fluth löset ihn auf,
und lauter bewahrt das lichte Gold,
das Euch zum Unheil geraubt.
(Sie hat sich den Ring angesteckt, und wendet sich
jetzt zu dem Scheitergerüste, auf welchem Siegfrieds
Leiche ausgestreckt liegt. Sie entreißt einem Manne
den mächtigen Feuerbrand.)

(den Feuerbrand schwingend und nach dem
Hintergrunde deutend)
Fliegt heim, ihr Raben! Raun’t es eurem Herren,
was hier am Rhein ihr gehört!
An Brünnhildes Felsen fahrt vorbei!
Der dort noch lodert,
weiset Loge nach Walhall!
Denn der Götter Ende dämmert nun auf.
So werf’ ich den Brand
in Walhalls prangende Burg.
(Sie schleudert den Brand in den Holzstoß, welcher
sich schnell hell entzündet. Zwei Raben sind vom
Felsen am Ufer aufgeflogen, und verschwinden nach
dem Hintergrunde.)

(Brünnhilde gewahrt ihr Roß, welches soeben zwei
Männer herein führen.)

Grane, mein Roß! Sei mir gegrüßt!
(She has sprung toward him, seizes and unbridles
him: then she bends affectionately toward him.)

Know’st thou now to whom
and whither I lead thee?
In fire radiant, lies there thy lord,
Siegfried, my hero blest.
To follow thy master, joyfully neigh’st thou?
Lures thee to him the light with its laughter?
Feel, too, my bosom, how it doth burn;
glowing flames now lay hold on my heart:
fast to enfold him, embraced by his arms,
in might of our loving with him aye made one!
Heiajaho! Grane! Give him thy greeting!
(She has swung herself on the horse and urges it to
spring forward.)
Siegfried! Siegfried! See!
Brünnhild’ greets thee in bliss.(She makes her horse leap into the burning pile of
logs. The flames immediately blaze up so that they fill
the whole space in front of the hall and appear to
seize on the building itself. The men and women
press to the front in terror.)
(Sie ist ihm entgegen gesprungen, faßt es und ent-
zäumt es schnell: dann neigt sie sich traulich zu ihm.)

Weißt du auch, mein Freund,
wohin ich dich führe?
Im Feuer leuchtend, liegt dort dein Herr,
Siegfried, mein seliger Held.
Dem Freunde zu folgen wieherst du freudig?
Lockt dich zu ihm die lachende Lohe?
Fühl’ meine Brust auch, wie sie entbrennt,
helles Feuer das Herz mir erfaßt,
ihn zu umschlingen, umschlossen von ihm,
in mächtigster Minne, vermählt ihm zu sein!
Heiajoho! Grane! Grüß’ deinen Herren!
(Sie hat sich auf das Roß geschwungen und hebt
es jetzt zum Sprunge.)
Siegfried! Siegfried! Sieh!
Selig grüßt dich dein Weib!(Sie sprengt das Roß mit einem Satze in den
brennenden Scheitehaufen. Sogleich steigt prasselt
der Brand hoch auf, so daß das Feuer den ganzen
Raum vor der Halle erfüllt und diese selbst schon zu
ergreifen scheint. Entsetzt drängen sich die Männer
und Frauen nach dem äußersten Vordergrunde.)

Frida Leider

Frida Leider (April 18, 1888 – June 4, 1975) was a German opera singer.  She was born in Berlin and studied singing in her free time while working in a bank. Her tutor was Otto Schwarz. Leider also eventually studied with Louis Bachner, an American who helped several well known Europeans free up their voices.  In 1915 she made her debut as Venus at the Stadttheater Halle. Her next engagement took her to Rostock in 1916, where she stayed until 1918, singing mainly Italian and Mozart roles. In 1918 she moved to the Opera House at Königsberg, and in 1920 she was engaged by the Hamburg Stadttheater. Frida made her debut there as Leonore followed by Aida. In three seasons she sang all the Wagnerian dramatic roles (!), as well as Ariadne, Donna Anna and several Italian parts. In 1921 she was contracted to the Berlin State Opera by its director and composer Max von Schillings. There, she reappeared as Leonore under Erich Kleiber. Her debut role at Covent Garden was Isolde. In 1928 she was heard at the Bayreuth Festival (Brünnhilde and Kundry). For four seasons she was a highly acclaimed artist at the Chicago Opera where she sang Brünnhilde in Walküre, Isolde, Venus, Leonore, Amelia, Kundry, The Marschallin and Mona Lisa! Eventually, Frida was immediately hired by the Met where she made her debut in 1933 as Isolde.  Leider was one of the most important dramatic sopranos of the 20th century. Her most famous roles were Wagner’s Isolde and Brünnhilde, Beethoven’s Fidelio, Mozart’s Donna Anna, and Verdi’s Aida and Leonora. She made over 80 recordings, mainly for Polydor and HMV.  She appeared at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and at La Scala. In 1938 the singer’s operatic career came to a sudden end. Her Jewish husband, Rudolf Deman, violinist and leader of the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, and the singer were forced to emigrate because of the political situation in Germany. We owe it to the well-known accompanist Michael Raucheisen that her voice continued to be heard. He persuaded her to build up a song repertoire and they gave successful recitals and made fine recordings. Her last appearance was in 1946, sharing the performance with her close friend Margarete Klose . In later years she turned to opera direction, the most important achievement was a production of Tristan und Isolde in 1947, conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler.