The Ring Cycle An Operaphobe Reviews Das Rheingold
Posted on 11 Sep 2012
So yesterday, I realized I might be more prepared for opera
than I realized and promised to (informally) review the upcoming operas each
Consider this your spoiler notice, and be prepared for
Tonight we kick off the first of four operas within Der
Ring des Nibelungen with Das Rheingold. The storys really pretty fun. After
my Looney Tunes introduction to Wagner, I see Alberich as Elmer Fudd, so Im
set from the beginning. And as a fan of The Hobbit, this piece has a certain
appeal for me. But less talk, more description, right?
Time to get down to the brass tacks:
Set in mythical times, Das Rheingold opens as the lovely singing,
swimming Rhinemaidens attract the attention of an ugly dwarf who clumsily tries
and fails to capture them. In the process, they tell the spurned little man
about a golden treasure of immeasurable worth that will give its owner power of
the entire world but at a great price. Tired of his fruitless attempts, the
dwarf renounces love to pursue the treasure.
Meanwhile, in the realm of the gods, Wotan head honcho
is in for it. In exchange for the giants construction work on his new castle,
he promised to give them his wifes sister to cover costs. Wifey isnt happy. So,
when the giants come to collect, the heavenly gang holds them off long enough
to offer the Rhinegold in exchange. The giants agree, but take the
sister-in-law with them as a hostage, which creates another issue. Losing the
goddess of youth begins to deprive the gods of their youthful luster.
Trekking off for the ransom money, the gods venture below
the earth in pursuit of the dwarf and all of the treasure (including the ring)
hes accumulated. There, we see our original dwarf has let the power go to his
head. In addition to piling up the gold, hes also forced his timid brother to
give him a magic helmet that allows him to assume any form and travel anywhere
instantaneously. After acquiring the helmet, there was nothing to stop the mean-natured
little guy from become a dwarfian dictator and mercilessly enslaving the other
Fortunately for the gods, though diabolical, the dwarf isnt
particularly smart. After turning himself into a toad to prove his abilities,
the dwarf dictator is robbed of his helmet, tied up, and forced to command his
fellow dwarves to transport the treasure for the youth goddess ransom.
Finally, the gods demand the ring, but the dwarf refuses. Overcome by a lust
for power, Wotan wrests it away, crushing the tiny dictators morale and
prompting him to curse the ring and its future possessors. The ring will
inflict ceaseless worry and death on all of its owners.
Soon, an exchange is made. At the last moment, and prodding
of another goddess, the king of the gods gives up the ring, in addition to all
of the other treasure, for the return of the youth goddess. Immediately, the
curse claims its first victim as one giant kills the other in fight to possess
the ring, to the gods horror, foreshadowing the darkness to come.
Now what? You wait for more delightful entertainment until tomorrow! In
the meantime, feel free to entertain me. What did you think of tonights
opera? (We can compare notes in the morning.)
"Great Performances at the Met: Wagner's Ring Cycle - Das Rhiengold," 8 p.m. - 12 a.m.