Synopsis: The Ring of the Nibelung
Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold):
- Scene I: The dwarf Alberich renounces love and steals the magic Rhine-gold with which a ring of power can be crafted from Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosswinde, the three Rhinemaidens, as they have rebuked his affections and offers.
- Scene II: The giants Fasolt and Fafner build Walhall for Wotan, king of the gods, in exchange for the goddess of love Freia, who also provides the Gods with the golden apples of youth, without which they will weaken. The Fire God Loge was supposed to find a way Wotan could get out of giving Freia to the Giants but he was unable to, however he mentions the theft of the gold by Alberich. The Giants agree to accept the Ring of Power Alberich has made from the gold as ransom.
- Scene III: Alberich enslaves all the dwarves and forces his brother and the most skilled smith among them, Mime, to forge him a magical helmet called the tarnhelm. The Gods Wotan and Loge capture him anyway after tricking him into turning himself into a toad while demonstrating the Tarnhelm.
- Scene IV: The aforementioned Loge and Wotan force Alberich to ransom himself with his treasure, Tarnhelm, and Ring; which Alberich curses. Wotan reluctantly gives up the treasure, Tarnhelm, and Ring to the giants, upon being warned by Erda the goddess of the Earth not to keep the ring. Fafner murders Fasolt as they argue over the treasure. The Rhinemaidens moan about losing their gold and criticise the gods, who enter Walhall.
- Act I: Siegmund, son of Wälse (Wotan), falls in love with the wife of Hunding — unknown to him, his twin, Sieglinde. Hunding reveals he is chasing Siegmund for killing his kin, but he will allow him to stay for the night but fight him the next day. Sieglinde shows Siegmund the magic sword Wälse has left for him; he pulls it from the tree it was embedded in, and they elope together despite realising they are twins.
- Act II: Wotan reveals to his wife Fricka that he intends Siegmund to slay Fafner (who has turned himself into a dragon) and win the Ring; however his wife Fricka, Goddess of marriage, is horrified by the twins’ adultery and twincest, so she induces him to abandon Siegmund and send the Valkyrie Brünnhilde (daughter of Wotan and Erda, as well as Wotan's favorite daughter) to ensure that Hunding kill him. Wotan has to agree or he would be going against his laws. Wotan orders Brünnhilde to do so, but discovering that Siegmund prefers perdition with Sieglinde to Walhall, she expresses sympathy for the twins and decides to help him. However Wotan appears and shatters Siegmund’s sword, allowing Hunding to kill him; Wotan then kills Hunding, and departs in wrath to punish the disobedient Brünnhilde, who has fled with Sieglinde and the fragments of the sword.
- Act III: The Valkyries note gather; Brünnhilde begs her sisters to shelter her and Sieglinde, but they refuse as they're terrified of Wotan's anger. Brünnhilde tells Sieglinde she is pregnant and despatches her to hide in the wood where Fafner lives with the sword fragments. Wotan arrives, dismisses the Valkyries, and punishes Brünnhilde by turning her mortal, abandoning her to whomever may come along. Brünnhilde begs him at least to ensure that no unworthy lover may claim her; he relents to this extent and, after putting her in a magical sleep, summons a circle of magic fire to protect her, leaving in sorrow.
- Act I: Siegfried, the child of Siegmund and Sieglinde, has been raised by Alberich’s brother Mime after Sieglinde died, so that he can slay Fafner (whereupon Mime would take the unguarded Ring), though Siegfried detests and distrusts the sneakish dwarf. Mime is unable to re-forge Siegmund's sword, Wotan tells him that only one who knows no fear can re-forge the sword, and that this person will have Mime's head. Siegfried re-forges the fragments of his father’s sword while Mime plots against him.
- Act II: Siegfried kills Fafner and, after instinctively tasting a bit of Fafner's blood, he gains the power of understanding birdsong. He also kills Mime when the dwarf tries to poison him, thanks to understanding a wood-bird's warnings; Siegfried then takes the Ring and Tarnhelm.
- Act III: Told of the beautiful and sleeping Brünnhilde by the wood-bird, Siegfried goes to wake her. He defies Wotan and breaks his spear, passes through the fire, and wakes Brünnhilde by kissing her, claiming her as his lover. Brünnhilde is satisfied and agrees to be with him.
- Prologue: The three Norns’ thread of fate snaps as they're singing about the past, present and future, and they disappear. They reveal the world tree has died due to Wotan breaking a branch of to carve his spear. Siegfried leaves Brünnhilde to seek adventure.
- Act I: Hagen, son of Alberich, suggests to his half-brother Gunther, lord of the Gibichungs, that they use a love-potion to make Siegfried fall in love with their sister Gutrune and induce him to win Brünnhilde for Gunther. When Siegfried drops by, Gunther drugs him and makes him a part of the aforementioned plan. Meanwhile Brünnhilde is visited by her Valkyrie sister Waltraute, who says that Wotan is waiting in Walhall for the end, but doesn't listen to her warnings about bleak things that may come and refuses to give up the Ring. Siegfried uses the tarnhelm to disguise himself as Gunther and takes Brünnhilde from the fire, as well as taking the Ring from her.
- Act II: Hagen has a talk with his dad Alberich, who urges him to take the Ring. When the captive Brünnhilde sees Siegfried with his new wife Gutrune, she declares that he has been her lover, and seeing him wearing the ring means she realises the deception. Siegfried denies the charge, but she, Gunther, and Hagen swear revenge on him, and the understandably VERY upset Brünnhilde reveals Siegfried's weakness: he can be stabbed in the back as when she made him invulnerable she knew he wouldn't turn his back on an enemy.
- Act III: Siegfried meets the Rhine-maidens, who try to get the Ring from him to no avail. As Siegfried and the others rest, Hagen feeds him another potion that starts restoring his memories. As Siegfried explains his adventures, Hagen spears him while claiming it's his duty since Siegfried swore on the spear he was not Brünnhilde's lover; Siegfried dies as he recalls his brief happiness with Brünnhilde. Siegfried's body is brought to the palace; Hagen kills Gunther for the Ring, while Gudrune falls victim to Death by Despair. Brünnhilde, who has realized everything, appears to prevent Hagen taking the Ring and orders a funeral pyre for Siegfried; after giving an eulogy and telling the Rhinemaidens to take the Ring when it's all said and done, she immolates herself in it. The flames rise to kindle Walhall, destroying Wotan and all the gods. The Rhine overflows its banks, quenching the flames, and the Rhine-maidens come to claim the ring as Brünnhilde told them to; Hagen attempts to stop them, but they drown him and then leave with the Ring.