Scene 2
(Brünnhilde enters)

Brünnhilde: Fricka was laughing. I guess it didn't go too well for you, huh? Father, you look terrible! So...sad, and - well, would it help you to tell me about it?

Wotan: I had a brilliant plan, but - it backfired on me. Now, I'm caught up in it so bad, well, I don't think anybody's ever been in this kind of position before.

Brünnhilde: I've never seen you look this way; it's like your heart is just completely broken. What is it?

Wotan: (crying out) Oh, the pain of it all! We're all cursed! All of Heaven is laughing at the shame I'm going through. Endless madness! Eternal torment! I'm the most miserable creature that's ever lived!!

Brünnhilde: Daddy, you're scaring me! I can't imagine what could make you go crazy like this. Please tell me! Trust me; I'll help you however I can! I'm begging you!!

Wotan: If I talk about it, I will go crazy. There's not much holding me back from that now anyway.

Brünnhilde: If you talk to me, you'll see it more clearly. You know I always do whatever you want; I am whatever you want - let me help you through it.

Wotan: You know, there are things I would never tell anybody, and those words will never be said out loud. But when I talk to you, it's like talking to myself. It's that easy. You know, there was a time when I was young, and I had this lust for power. Whatever I wanted, I went out and got. Sometimes, that wasn't the best thing, but eventually..., well, you see where I am today. I didn't mean to betray anybody along the way, but I made deals with the wrong people. I went for short-term gains, and didn't see the evil hiding in the background. I always wanted to love and be loved. Loge tried to tempt me away from that, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't give up that need for love that everyone - everything - has. Well, Loge doesn't matter anyway - he's gone with the wind now. Alberich, though - that wretched, twisted child of the Devil - he gave up love. He did what no one else could do, and it won him the world. The Rheingold, the Ring, all that power that should have been mine - was his! I got the Ring from him by tricking him, though. It was so easy! But what did I do with it? Did I do the right thing? No, this "God" broke every law that he was supposed to defend. The gold didn't go back to its rightful owners - it went to pay off my debt to the giants for building my castle for me to sit in and rule the world with all the power I had always wanted! There was an amazingly wise woman, Erda, who told me it would be like this. She knows everything there is to know, and she told me to run away from that cursed Ring. She knew it would come to this, and I wanted to know everything that she knew. I wanted to hear the whole story; I wanted to know how it end up for me, but she...just...vanished. The whole thing overwhelmed me. It wasn't a game anymore, I could see that. I just had to know what was up, so I went down into the mortals' world. I left my wife alone, and went to find Erda. Naturally, I won over her trust, and she told me everything. I got the knowledge I set out to find, but there was a price: Erda conceived you; she bore my child, and I raised you and your eight sisters with one goal in mind: I had to stop the disgraceful end that Erda had told me would happen to us Gods. I caused many people to fear me, to respect the laws I had created, and to become heroes in the eyes of men. I kept those warriors in check, slaves to my cause whenever I needed to use them! I sent those men into battle, where they were killed for the causes I had forced them to believe in. Then, I sent you Valkyries out to the battlefields, to collect their souls and bring them back to me, ready to protect me and my house from the enemies - my enemies - they had already faced. They were ready to die for me in life, and I bound them to me in death by my own deceitful dealings. You all were there to tempt them into battle, to egg them on to fight and die, so my house would forever be safe from this supposed invasion that bothered me day and night. Valhalla would be safe for all time!

Brünnhilde: We never let you down, either. Your castle has an army of brave men, ready to defend you forever. You got what you needed. What's the problem now?

Wotan: There's something else. Listen to what Erda warned me of: Alberich has his own army. He has his own grudge, to be sure, but I'm not afraid of him now. I could fight him off, and he knows that. But if he ever got the Ring back, then all my efforts would have been for nothing. Valhalla wouldn't be safe any more. He would be able to use the Ring's power to take all the men I've trained, and use them against me. He would take their bravery amd their loyalty to me away from them, and use their strength to defeat me and all I have. I've tried to think of a way out of this, though: Fafner was one of the giants I gave the Ring to. He killed his brother for that Ring, and now he's guarding it deep in the forest. I have to get the gold back from him to keep Alberich from getting it. But I made a deal with Fafner, so I can't attack him and steal it all back. I'm powerless to do the very thing that will let me keep my power! My honor and my word keep me in power, but now I'm powerless because of giving my word. The only person who could get that Ring for me would have to be a man I've never helped, never had anything to do with, who isn't bound to me or afraid of me or loyal to me in any way. And I couldn't even give him the idea to do it, either; it would have to be of his own will, in his own time, with his own strength, his own courage, his own weapons. But I don't even know if such a man exists. How can I find someone to do something for me, but not be able to tell him, who is so distant from me I don't even know him, but by doing nothing for him, expect him to do this thing for me that I need most? I'm a God! I should be able to do whatever I want, but I can't even do this one simple thing! It's a predicament no mortal could fathom, but here I sit, right in the middle of it. This man will have to create himself; I can't even do that for him.

Brünnhilde: But doesn't Siegmund act on his own, separate from you?

Wotan: No. I raised him, I traveled the forest with him, I taught him to go against the laws of God and man whenever it suited his purpose, and I even gave him a sword as protection against anything he might come up against. It was all so obvious - I tried to use him for my own benefit, but my tricks have only come back to trick me. Fricka saw through it all right away; she knew what I was up to even when I refused to admit to it. She was right, and now I have to do what I know is right, even though it's not at all what I'd had in mind.

Brünnhilde: (astonished) You're not going to let Siegmund win?

Wotan: When I had Alberich's ring in my hand, I wanted its power. I would've given anything for it! But I'm cursed by it now, and so I have to let Siegmund die to save my honor. I have to betray what I love, turn my back on it, all to pay for my own greed. I don't care if all I have would just burn to the ground; I don't want any of it any more! All I want is an end to all this. I wish that I could die, because right now, I'd choose that over what I have to do. At least it would make Alberich happy. Now I know what Erda meant when she said, "When he who has given up love has a son, the end of the Gods isn't far away." See, I've heard that he seduced a woman with his money and his power, and she fell for it. That poor woman - Grimhilde - has Alberich's son inside her, ready to come out and let all his anger loose on me! He can do that, because he gave up love. I couldn't, so now I can't even let my own son protect me. Whoever Alberich's son turns out to be, if he defeats me, I'll gladly give him the curse I have to live with. (calling to him) Take it away from me, let's see what good it does you! You won't find anything you want here with me!

Brünnhilde: Tell me what you want me to do.

Wotan: You have to take Fricka's side. She has to protect Hunding's wedding vows, and I have no choice but to agree with her. My opinion doesn't matter much now, anyway.

Brünnhilde: That's terrible! You can't just turn your back on Siegmund! You don't mean it at all, and I'm not going to let him die!

Wotan: You have to let Hunding win; Siegmund must die! Make sure you're up to it, because Siegmund's strength will take all you've got and more. I didn't raise him to be a coward.

Brünnhilde: But you love him! You've always taught me to love him, too, and I can't believe you'd let me do something like that just because you have a last-minute whim! I won't do it!

Wotan: (angrily) What did you say? You have no choice but to do exactly what I tell you! You don't have a say in this, in case you've forgotten! I didn't just tell you all my secrets to have you throw them back in my face! You don't want to get me mad, little girl! You think Siegmund's tough, well, you haven't ever seen what I could do if I really let loose. The whole world would crumble before me; everything and everyone I love, including you, could be destroyed in a flash by my just wishing it!! There's not a person in the world who would dare cross me, and I'd advise you not to try it now! Don't talk back to me! There's no more discussion! Siegmund will die, and you will do what I've told you to do. Now go do it! (exits)

Brünnhilde: (to herself) I've never seen him that mad before! This is terrible! My armor is so heavy, I don't think I can even bear to go to the fight today. It used to be so easy, but this.... Poor Siegmund! I'm so sorry, I don't want to let you down, but I have to....