The latest Strong Women of Opera Portrait is of Wagner’s Brünnhilde, or Brünhilde, or however you spell it! This lady is a Valkyrie, daughter of the one-eyed god Wotan, and a central figure in three of the four Ring of the Nibelung.
At the end of Die Walküre, the story reaches a spellbinding climax, as Brünhilde is stripped of her divinity by her father for disobeying-out of love for him! She is then sentenced to marry the man who awakens her from slumber. Brünhilde pleads with Wotan that she will not become the wife of a coward. Out of love for this lost, favorite child, Wotan causes an enormous ring of fire to surround her in her sleep so that only the bravest of men will find her.
I love this part of the opera, as Wotan sadly lays his daughter to sleep. This is a moment I have wanted to portray ever since I first heard it!
Here is the very beginning.
Not at all pretty yet, but her emotion is already coming through to some degree. Brünhilde is so indisputably strong, that I wanted to show her strength through vulnerability. She will weep.
It would have been a lot easier for me if the lady was one-eyed, like her father! I had a very difficult time positioning and matching the eyes. As you can see, I eventually totally painted over what I had and re-positioned the entire socket.
The eye is better, but not right yet. Her hair is exactly what I wanted! Why did Wagner specify plate armor for her? Chain mail I could have made feminine. Her upper lip is way to long.
Some four hours later, and I love her armor! Weak points, eyes and mouth. No horns on the helmet, thank you kindly! I believe that image originated from-and should remain in-cartoons:)
I went through and stained and dented her armor, as seemed fitting after a battle.
Some more hours later, I added the fir tree and fallen needles, enlarged her mouth, and fixed her eyes. The portrait is now completed, pending anything that catches my eye later!
Here is a close-up of her eyes. What a difference! I wanted them to reflect the sky and branches above her. I think she is beautiful now, as well as strong, both of which form essential parts of her character.