Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Essential Opera - Reading Together - Part 15

Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is a set of four operas written by Richard Wagner.

"The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold he stole from the Rhine maidens in the river Rhine. With the assistance of the God Loge, Wotan – the chief of the gods – steals the ring from Alberich, who curses it, but is forced to hand it over to the giants, Fafner and Fasolt in payment for building the home of the gods, Valhalla. Wotan's schemes to regain the ring, spanning generations, drive much of the action in the story. His grandson, the mortal Siegfried, wins the ring by slaying Fafner (who slew Fasolt for the ring) – as Wotan intended – but is eventually betrayed and slain as a result of the intrigues of Alberich's son Hagen, who wants the ring. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde – Siegfried's lover and Wotan's daughter who lost her immortality for defying her father in an attempt to save Siegfried's Father Sigmund – returns the ring to the Rhine maidens as she commits suicide on Siegfried's funeral pyre. Hagen is drowned as he attempts to recover the ring. In the process, the gods and Valhalla are destroyed."

One significant aspect of these operas is Wagner's use of leitmotifs. He uses these recurring music themes to help the audience follow the action that is taking place on the stage.

Leave your comments and impressions below. And, don't forget to read the sixteenth installment for next week.

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