The Ring Cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen)

Composer: Wagner, Richard 1813 - 1883

Version: English version by Jeremy Sams

The Ring Cycle is a series of four operas by Richard Wagner, based loosely on characters from Scandinavian and Germanic history, and the epic peom Nibelungenlied. Wagner wrote both the libretto and music over the course of about twenty-six years, from 1848 to 1874, and although the individual operas (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung) are performed as works in their own right, Wagner intended them to be performed in a series. SYNOPSIS: The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the dwarf Alberich from gold he stole from the Rhinemaidens in the river Rhine. Several mythic figures struggle for possession of the Ring, including Wotan (Odin), the chief of the gods. Wotan’s scheme, spanning generations, to overcome his limitations, drives much of the action in the story. His grandson, the hero Siegfried wins the Ring, as Wotan intended, but is eventually betrayed and slain. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, Siegfried’s lover and Wotan’s estranged daughter, returns the Ring to the Rhinemaidens. In the process, the Gods and their home, Valhalla, are destroyed.