Richard Wagner
1813 - 1883

Libretto by the composer
First performed September 22nd 1869, Royal Court and National Theatre Munich
First performance as part of the Ring des Nibelungen 13th August 1876, Bayreuth

Sung in german
Duration: c. 2 1/2 hrs. without interval

About the piece

It starts with the beginning of everything. A triad gradually grows from a deep E flat, and rhythmic structures emerge, almost unn ...
It starts with the beginning of everything. A triad gradually grows from a deep E flat, and rhythmic structures emerge, almost unnoticed: the organic development of nature swells into an enormous crescendo, striding forth – until it suddenly plunges into the depths of the Rhine. But it is really the beginning? Lots has happened in this world before the first singers appear. In Rheingold, in the whole Ring, layers of time overlap one another, opening up contradictory viewpoints depending on who is speaking. The ambiguity of events, the ambivalence of all deals made constantly reinvent themselves. Nobody knows the whole truth. Wotan, who formed the world, wants to control everything that happens in it. He has replace chaos with order. But in striving to keep this new order in place Wotan makes a mistake: he – who sacrificed an eye to drink from the fountain of wisdom – overlooked the fact that he too must be subject to his own laws. This mistake took place when Wotan agreed a contract with the giants for them to build his castle, when he never had any intention of keeping his side of the bargain. Even before the events in the Ring have begun, Loge knows where it will lead: »They, who thing themselves strong and enduring, are hurrying to their end.«


The Rhinemaidens play. Alberich tries to get closer. They make fun of him, flirt with him, rebuff him. He is furious. The sun shin ...
The Rhinemaidens play. Alberich tries to get closer. They make fun of him, flirt with him, rebuff him. He is furious. The sun shines on the gold in the river. The maidens expain it's magical powers: he who is willing to renounce love can forge a ring from it which will bestow limitless power. Alberich curses love and steals the gold. Wotan sees that the gods' castle has been finished. Fricka is is anxious because Wotan has sold her sister Freia to the giants Fasolt and Fafner in return for building it. Wotan says that Loge is supposed to be finding a way out of the contract he advised him to enter into. The giants demand payment. Wotan denies that he was serious about the contract. Fasolt reminds him that his power is only founded upon contracts. If Wotan does not honour them then peace is in jeopardy. Fasolt wants to marry Freia. Fafner knows that if the gods lose her they will be robbed of eternal youth. Loge reappears. In searching for a replacement for Freia he has realised that there is nothing of greater worth than »a woman's beauty and love«. Only one man has renounced it: Alberich. Loge passes on to Wotan the Rhinemaiden's plea for help in returning the gold to the Rhine. Everybody wants to possess it when Loge explains its magical powers. The giants agree to accept it in return for Freia, keeping her as forfeit until they have received it. The gods begin to age. Wotan and Loge go to Niebelheim to steal the gold. Having forged the ring Alberich now rules over the Nigelungs. He forced his brother Mime to make a magic helmet. Alberich can now make himself invisible. Loge taunts Alberich into proving the helmet's magical powers. Wotan grabs Alberich when he turns himself into a toad. They removes the helmet, tie him up and drag him away. Wotan takes the ring and releases him. Alberich curses them: possession of the Ring will result in death. Wotan does not take this seriously. The giants insist that the gold be piled up until it covers Freia's shape. When Fasolt sees one of her eyes he demands the ring to cover it up. Wotan intends to keep it. Fasolt prepares to leave with Freia. Erda warns Wotan about the dangers the ring brings with it and prophesies the gods' downfall. Wotan gives up the ring. Freia is saved. The giants argue. Loge tells Fasolt to just take the ring. Fafner kills his brother: the curse has found its first victim. Donner summons up a thunder storm. Froh sees a rainbow which will lead them to the castle, which Wotan names Walhall. The Rinemaidens can be heard, mourning the lost gold.

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Saturday 02.06.2012

Further performances:


Sebastian Weigle
Vera Nemirova
Assistant for the Revival
Orest Tichonov
Set Designer
Jens Kilian
Costume Designer
Ingeborg Bernerth
Lighting Designer
Olaf Winter
Malte Krasting
Bibi Abel

Terje Stensvold
Dietrich Volle
Richard Cox
Kurt Streit
Jochen Schmeckenbecher
Hans-Jürgen Lazar
Alfred Reiter
Magnús Baldvinsson
Martina Dike
Barbara Zechmeister
Meredith Arwady
Britta Stallmeister
Jenny Carlstedt
Katharina Magiera

Orchestra of Oper Frankfurt

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