The prelimary opera.
About 2 hours 40 minutes with no interval.
Four scenes which set out the creation of the ring of power and the building of Wotan’s folly, Valhalla.
Scene 1 – The Rhine
Prelude: The Rhine; heavy, eternal. Foreboding.
Three Rhine-maidens, Woglinde, Wellgunde, and Flosshilde, frolick in the depths.
Alberich, a dwarf of the Nibelung, appears and tries to woo them. The Rhine-maidens cruelly mock and tease him.
The sun rises, a golden glow becomes visible. The Rhine-maidens foolishly tell Alberich that this is the Rhine-gold, which can be forged into a powerful magic ring which will enable its bearer to rule the world, but only if they first renounce love.
Alberich, angered by the humiliation he has endured, therefore curses love and escapes with the gold, leaving the Rhine-maidens bereft.
Scene 2 – The Mountains below Valhalla
Wotan, and his wife, Fricka, awake to see the construction of Valhalla is complete. The giants Fasolt and Fafner have built Valhalla for Wotan and in return he has rather rashly promised to give them Fricka‘s sister Freia.
Not surprisingly, Fricka challenges Wotan about the wisdom of this deal and Wotan assures her that Loge, a mischeievious demigod of fire, will find a way out of the contract.
Freia arrives, pursued by Fasolt and Fafner. They demand payment. Wotan, they point out, is bound, as the contract is carved into his spear. The gods Donner and Froh arrive to defend Freia, but Wotan cannot allow them to violate his agreement. All depends on Loge.
Loge arrives with the story of the stolen Rhine-gold and the giants agree to accept the treasure as an alternative payment. The giants leave taking Freia, whom they will keep if the treasure is not theirs by nightfall.
Freia, as goddess of youth and beauty, provided golden apples that kept the Gods eternally young. Now this is gone, they begin to age.
Wotan and Loge depart for Nibelheim, Alberich‘s kingdom to get the gold and reclaim Freia.
Scene 3 – Nibelheim
Alberich has used the ring to enslave the Nibelung dwarves. His brother Mime, has been coerced into creating a magic helm, the Tarnhelm, which provides powers of invibility, shape-changing and teleportation on the wearer.
Wotan and Loge arrive and encounter Mime, who brings them up to speed on Alberich‘s schemes.
Alberich and his slaves arrive, along with a pile of gold.
Loge challenges the boastful Alberich to demonstrate the power of the Tarnhelm. Alberich turns into a giant snake.
Loge then asks if he can make hiself smaller and Alberich helpfully transforms himself into a toad.
The gods take advantage of the moment and capture him and take him to the mountains.
Scene 4- The Mountains below Valhalla
Wotan and Loge force Alberich to give up the gold, the Tarnhelm and the ring.
In his anguish at losing everything, Alberich curses the ring: who does not have it will desire it, and who wields it will die.
The giants return with Freia. They will only release her if the pile of gold is sufficient to hide her from view. A small hole still remains, but Wotan refuses to surrender the ring to fill the gap.
Erda, the earth goddess, appears. She warns Wotan of impending doom and recommends he give up the ring.
Wotan reluctantly agrees and he gives the ring to the giants who release Freia. However, they argue over the ring and Fafner kills Fasolt – the first evidence of the power of the curse.
The gods prepare to enter Valhalla. Donner summons a thunderstorm and Froh creates a rainbow bridge. Wotan leads the gods across the bridge to Valhalla.
Below, the Rhine-maidens continue to mourn the loss of the gold.
Next: Die Walküre