Prologue The three Nornsâ€”who control the fates of the gods and mankindâ€”busily weave the rope of destiny. They envision Valhalla in flames and predict the godsâ€™ imminent downfall. Suddenly their rope breaks and they tumble down to their mother, Erda, deep in the earth. Siegfried and BrÃ¼nnhilde awake after their night together. Knowing he is destined to pursue heroic challenges, BrÃ¼nnhilde encourages him to leave. As a pledge of his love, he gives her the ring before he departs. ACT I At his home on the banks of the Rhine River, Gunther, the leader of the royal Gibichung family, ponders how to strengthen his rulership and asks his half-brother, Hagen, for advice. (Gunther and Hagen have the same mother.) Hagen, the son of Alberich, recommends strategic marriages: he proposes BrÃ¼nnhilde as bride for Gunther, and Siegfried as husband for their sister, Gutrune. Gunther and Gutrune know this can be accomplished only through trickery, so Hagen suggests that Siegfried be lured to their home and given a potion that will make him fall in love with Gutrune. They would then induce Siegfried to secure BrÃ¼nnhilde for Gunther, since Gunther could never break through the flames on his own. They hear Siegfriedâ€™s horn nearby, invite him to their hall, and begin to implement their deceitful plan. BrÃ¼nnhildeâ€™s Valkyrie sister Waltraute pays her a visit. She describes a broken Wotan who wishes only that BrÃ¼nnhilde would return the ring to the Rhinemaidens: the very survival of the gods depends upon it. BrÃ¼nnhilde refuses to yield the ring, citing it as a token of Siegfriedâ€™s love, and Waltraute leaves in anguish. Having drunk the love potion, Siegfried has fallen in love with Gutrune and has no recollection of BrÃ¼nnhilde. In return for Gutruneâ€™s hand, Siegfried takes on Guntherâ€™s appearance with the aid of the Tarnhelm and breaks through the flames to claim BrÃ¼nnhilde for Gunther, tearing the ring from her hand. Intermission ACT II Alberich comes to Hagen in the night as he sleeps outside the Gibichungsâ€™ hall, urging him to get the ring from Siegfried. At daybreak, Siegfried arrives, announcing he has won BrÃ¼nnhilde for Gunther. When they enter, BrÃ¼nnhilde is shocked to see Siegfriedâ€”and the ring on his handâ€”and accuses him of betraying her. But Siegfried, still under the potionâ€™s spell, denies their love. When Hagen offers to kill Siegfried, BrÃ¼nnhilde, now bent on avenging her honor, reveals Siegfriedâ€™s one weak spotâ€”his back. Together they convince Gunther to join in their plot to murder Siegfried as the marriage celebrations begin. Intermission ACT III Out hunting near the banks of the Rhine, Siegfried spies the Rhinemaidens, who beseech him to return the ring, but Siegfried ignores their warnings about the ringâ€™s curse. Hagen, Gunther, and the other members of Siegfriedâ€™s hunting party appear and decide to rest. As they drink wine, Siegfried regales them with stories about his past: about his boyhood with Mime, reforging the sword Nothung, and killing the dragon. As he reminisces, Hagen offers him wine that contains an antidote to the potion, and all of Siegfriedâ€™s memories of BrÃ¼nnhilde return. Hagen thrusts his spear into Siegfriedâ€™s back, and the hero dies with BrÃ¼nnhildeâ€™s praises on his lips. At the Gibichung hall, Gutrune has just awakened from a bad dream when Hagen, Gunther, and the rest of the party return with Siegfriedâ€™s body. Grief stricken, she blames Gunther, but he replies that Hagen was the killer. Quarreling over the ring, Hagen strikes Gunther down, but when he tries to take the ring from Siegfriedâ€™s hand, the dead hero raises his arm menacingly and all recoil in terror. BrÃ¼nnhilde orders a funeral pyre to be built on the banks of the Rhine. Denouncing the gods for their guilt in Siegfriedâ€™s death, she returns the ring to the Rhinemaidens and walks into the flames. The river overflows and the Rhinemaidens drag Hagen to his death in the water. The fire spreads and begins to consume Valhalla. The old order has perished.