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Opera: The Rhinegold, Part I, The Ring of Nibelung, Wagner

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Uploaded on Apr 30, 2006

Deep in the Rhine, three of the river's daughters, custodians of a golden treasure, laugh while they play, scarcely noticing when Alberich emerges from a crevice. Seized by desire, the gnome tries to catch the Rhinemaidens as they dart through the waters, but his clumsy attempts lead to frustration.

Taunts from his quarry merely quicken the Nibelung's lust and anger. Suddenly sunlight illuminates the summit of a rock - the Rhinegold.


Hailing the precious hoard, the nymphs are astonished that Alberich does not know what it represents. The Rhinegold is all-powerful, they explain to him, and were it fashioned into a Ring, the wearer would rule the world. But the gold is safe, they continue confidently, for whoever would steal the treasure must renounce love.

The Nibelung vows to seize the gold. Scrambling up the rock, Alberich forswears love, wrests the prize free and escapes. The waters are plunged into darkness as the Rhinemaidens lament their loss.

As the sun rises over a mountainous plateau, Fricka and Wotan slumber on a bank of flowers. A fortress, their new home, gleams in the distance. When the two gods awaken, Wotan hails the building as a fulfillment of his dreams.




Fricka reproaches her husband for having promised her sister Freia to the giants Fafner and Fasolt as payment for constructing the castle.




Wotan replies that he never meant to keep the bargain. As the terrified Freia runs in, pursued by Fafner and Fasolt, Wotan says Loge (fire) will help the gods out of their dilemma.

The giants advance to claim their reward. When Wotan protests he made the pact in jest, that they must settle for another fee, Fasolt, smitten with Freia, balks.


Fafner, intrigued that the loss of Freia's golden apples would cost the gods their eternal youth and therefore their power, decides the goddess must be abducted.

As the giants drag her away, Froh (spring) and Donner (thunder) bar their path, Donner brandishing his hammer. Wotan intervenes, saying all treaties are guaranteed on his spear. Denied Freia's golden apples, the gods begin to age.




Loge, who originated the contract with the giants, and who at Wotan's command has been trying to find a suitable payment in lieu of Freia, materializes in a puff of smoke. The crafty god suggests that perhaps the Rhinegold might be an acceptable substitute.



He then relates how Alberich stole the hoard, forging it into a Ring through which he can gain world dominance. Wotan is enthralled by the absolute power the Ring imparts, and when Fricka learns a wife could use the Ring to keep a philandering husband faithful, she urges Wotan to obtain it.

Since the Rhinemaidens want Wotan to restore the gold to them, proposes Loge, why not steal it, as Alberich did? Fafner, who wants the gold, advises Wotan to use his wits to gain the treasure.


Then, taking Freia hostage until evening, when the Nibelung's hoard must be delivered as ransom, the giants leave. No sooner does Freia disappear than the gods begin to weaken and age. Wotan, forced to make a decision, bids Loge accompany him to the nether world to seek Alberich's treasure.

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