Of the four episodes of the 'Ring Cycle', 'Die Walkure' is most often performed separately and may be Wagner’s best-loved work. The source of this affection is certainly the sensitive depictions of Siegmund and Sieglinde's love and the father-daughter relationship of Wotan and Brünnhilde.
Siegmund stumbles into an unfamiliar house – Sieglinde’s – for shelter, and the two fall for each other quickly. However, Sieglinde's husband (from a forced marriage), Hunding, is a kinsman of Siegmund’s foes and challenges Siegmund to a duel. Sieglinde gives Hunding a sleeping potion and the two realise they are brother and sister. Siegmund claims Sieglinde as his bride. Watching, Wotan and Fricka tell Brünnhilde that she must defend Hunding's marriage rights. Brünnhilde sets out to observe the lovers. When Sieglinde falls asleep Brünnhilde berates Siegmund but when he argues she decides to help him.
Hunding and Siegmund battle, when Siegmund is about to win, however, Wotan appears and shatters his sword; he is killed. Brünnhilde escapes with Sieglinde and the broken sword. Wotan fells Hunding with a wave of his hand and leaves to punish Brünnhilde. Sieglinde realises she bears Siegmund's child, so takes the pieces of the sword and rushes off into the forest to hide. Brünnhilde herself flees to the Valkyries' Rock to hide but Wotan fins her and sentences her to become a mortal woman: she must lie in sleep to be claimed by any man who finds her, but behind a wall of fire that only the bravest hero can pierce.
This is the Schirmer edition of the Libretto, in the original German with an nglish translation by Stewart Robb.