After the wars between the older rulers of the earth and the lords of the sky, the
victorious young king of the gods, Wotan, wanders the middle earth looking to gain all the
knowledge and power he can find. He comes to a spring at the foot of the World Ash Tree
and asks the norns at the fountain of Mimr for all knowledge of the past, present, and
future. The Norns agree to give Wotan most of their knowledge but only after he hangs on
the world ash tree for a long space of time, and to give the Norns one of his eyes.
Wotan does all this and the Norns give him sacred knowledge. He breaks off one of the
branches of the World Ash tree and fashions for himself a spear on which he carves the
runes and sacred knowledge he has learned. He decrees that henceforth all contracts and
sacred pacts (Vertragen) most be protected by his spear. But by breaking off this branch,
Wotan himself starts the slow decay of the World Ash Tree which harkens to the ultimate
downfall of the gods.
To further consolidate his power he enslaves the fire god, Loge, who becomes his
partner in crime, and by giving another eye (?) he marries the goddess, Fricka.
Spurred on by Fricka, and Loge, Wotan decides to build a splendid castle in the heavens
from which he can look down on all the men, giants, and dwarves of the middle and low
parts of the earth. He hires two mighty giants, Fasfolt and Fafner, to build this castle,
Valhalla, for him. He finds however that he has nothing to pay the giants with and turns
to Loge. Loge consuls Wotan to say that when done he will pay them with the young goddess
of youth, Freia the sister of Fricka who grows the golden apples that keep the gods young.
The giants agree and build the mighty fortress while all the gods sleep.
A primal force of nature deposits the magic gold into the river Rhine and instructs his
three daughters, the Rhinemaidens, to watch the gold carefully. They constantly swim
around it in joyful love.
From the depths of the earth comes the Nibelung,
Alberich. He approaches the three Rhinemaidens swimming in the Rhine. He tries to woo each
of them to love, but they mock his ugliness and swim away from him. Finally, as they are
taunting him the Rhinegold awakens under the water and they sing its praises. Alberich is
puzzled why they would care for such a thing. They start to tell him about the
the potential power it has. For in the water the gold is just a plaything, but if someone
were to steal it and rennounce love (minne) they could learn its secrets and fashion from
it a ring to rule the entire world. One sister reminds the others to be careful of their
father has warned them of, but they do not really worry since Alberich is burning with
love for them.
But Alberich has other plans... He realizes that these water maidens will not give him
any love, and that if he can't have that he can have power. He swims to the gold,
renounces love (so verflucht ich die liebe), and steals it from them. As everything is
enveloped in darkness, Alberich makes his way down to Nibelheim and forges the ring.
Up on a hill Fricka awakens to see the splendid fortress in the heaven completed by the
Giants. She wakes up Wotan who is dreaming of the golden hall. Finally he awakes and
beholds the castle. His joy is quickly dashed when Fricka reminds Wotan that he must now
give Fricka's sister, Freia, to the giants as payment. Wotan tells Fricka that Loge told
him to do this and he has no intention of giving Freia away. He has charged Loge to go out
into the middle earth and find a suitable replacement for Freia. The giants come and
demand the agreed upon ransom. The one giant, Fasfolt, is truly in love with Freia, but
the other giant, Fafner, knows that when they take Freia the apples of youth she grows
will wither and die and the gods will become old and impotent. Wotan waits for Loge who
does not come. Freia panics and calls on her brothers Froh, and the thunder god, Donner,
to protect her. Donner threatens the giants with his mighty war hammer (mjllonir), but
Wotan bars him with his spear proclaiming that this agreement is protected by his spear
and most be honored.
Just when all hope is lost, Loge appears with bad news. He has searched the middle
earth and found no evidence of something that would be worth replacing for Freia. For no
one would give up love, except for one--- For Loge has heard that the Nibelung Alberich to
gain the magic gold of the Rhine has cursed love, fashioned a magic ring, and enslaved his
fellow Nibelung's. Wotan is aware of this gold and the potential power it possess. He
decides to offer up the gold as a replacement for Freia, but to take the opportunity to
gain the ring for himself.
The giants agree and temporarily take Freia away until they get the gold. Once she
leaves, the gods start to grew old for they have not eaten the golden apples that day, and
a mist envelopes the fortress in the heavens. Wotan gather up strength and with Loge
descends through a sulphorous shaft to the depths of Nibelheim.
There, Alberich's brother, Mime, has fashioned a helmet called the Tarnhelm which,
among its many powers, makes the wearer invisible or able to transform into other forms.
Mime tries to hide the helmet, but Alberich finds it and turning invisible mockingly whips
his brother. Wotan and Loge arrive and hear from Mime how Alberich has enslaved the once
happy Nibelung and has made them dig in the depths of the earth for more gold. Alberich
storms in and warns the gods to watch out (Habt Ach !) for his growing Nibelung hoards
which will storm the halls of the gods. Wotan is ready to destroy him, but Loge uses his
cunning to convince Alberich to use the Tarnhelm to turn himself into a dragon (appealing
to his ego), and then into a frog. Once he is in frog form, Wotan and Loge catch Albreich
in a net and drag him up to the middle earth.
Back on earth the gods order Alberich to give them all his gold. Alberich grudgingly
decides to so, knowing that all the gold he might give up can be returned with the power
of the ring. He calls his Nibelung host to bring the gold up from Nibelheim distressed
that they might see him a prisoner of the gods. Then Loge throws the Tarnhelm on the pile
claiming it as part of the ransom, and Wotan notices a golden ring on Alberich's finger.
He orders Alberich to add the ring as well. Alberich refuses, saying "take my life,
but not the ring." Wotan replies "I want the ring, I don't care about your
life." In a violent struggle Wotan rips the ring from Alberich's finger, and Alberich
screams "treachery." Wotan takes the ring and muses that now he has all the
power in the world. He tells Loge to let the wretched dwarf go. As he leaves Alberich
places a deadly curse (verflucht) on the ring - all who have it will die, and all who
don't will envy it until once again it comes back to its rightful owner - the
The gods and giants come back. The giants order that the gold must completely hide
Freia from their sight. They pile the gold around her. The giants look carefully, they see
a chink and order the Tarnhelm to cover it up. Finally all the gold is exhausted, and
Fasfolt looks around the gold for a hint of his love, Freia. "I can see her eye"
he shouts "I can not give her up if I can see her eye." "But all the
is gone," Loge proclaims. Then the giants notice the ring on Wotan's finger. They
order him to give up the ring as ransom. Loge tells them that the ring belongs to the
Rhinemaidens, but Wotan tells them all that he will keep this ultimate symbol of power.
The giants drag Freia from the gold and start to take her away again. Wotan refuses to
give up the ring.
Then all things stop....out of the ground comes the primordial mother of the Earth,
Erda, who tells Wotan to flee the curse of the ring and that the downfall of the gods is
approaching - for all that is, will end. Wotan orders the earth goddess to stay and tell
him more, but she sinks back into the ground. Finally, Wotan gives up the ring to the
giants and the gods welcome back Freia. As the giants take up the gold they start to argue
over the ring, and as foretold, Fafner kills Fasfolt for the power of the ring. Alberich's
curse has taken its first victim. Wotan realizes that he must protect the gods from this
curse and Erda's prophecy of the ultimate downfall of the gods. Fricka reminds Wotan that
they can now enter the fortress in the sky. Wotan is not as happy as he was in the morning
when he first beheld the castle. He calls upon Donner to clear the mist with a mighty
storm. Donner calls up thunder and with a violent lighten strike the mists are cleared and
a glittering rainbow bridge spans over the earth to heaven and the war hall, Valhalla.
With Loge proclaiming his disgust for Wotan's action, the gods start to ascend to
Valhalla. As they do so, the lament of the Rhinemaidens is heard proclaiming their sorrow
over the loss of their gold, and the falseness of all that rules above.
DIE WALKURE - THE REDEEMER OF THE WORLD
Wotan does not stay in his glorious fortress for long. He is distressed over the
haunting words of Erda and decides to learn more from her. He goes down into the earth and
by love-magic learns many things from her. He learns that the only way the gods will be
redeemed is for a hero without the help of the gods to win back the Nibelung Ring. For
by treaty the Ring still serves as part of the ransom for the castle and if Wotan or his
family attempted to regain it it would be in violation of the treaty his spear protects.
Only the hero free from any of the gods influence will regain the ring and break the
To gain this knowledge he sires with Erda 8 daughters who are the
favorite is the war maiden - Brunnhilde. He instructs these maidens to build an army of
dead mortal heroes in Valhalla to protect the gods from the foretold downfall. The
Valkyries visit heroes before they did in battle and tell them of their unchangeable fate,
and the glories of Valhalla.
Meanwhile....the giant Fafner who has killed his brother Fasfolt has taken the golden
hoard, and the Ring to eastern lands. There, he uses the magical Tarnhelm to transform
himself into a dragon and in the cave of Niedhole he sits on the gold and the RING.
Wotan leaves Erda determined to create a hero who will win back the ring and still
maintain the original treaty. He wanders the earth as Walse (Wolf) and on a mortal woman
he bears two children: Sieglinde and Siegmund. He stays with them and watches them grow.
He makes Siegmund into a great hero and constantly tells him to ignore the gods. He also
promises Siegmund that in his hour of greatest need he will provide Siegmund with help.
One day Walse disappears and all Siegmund can find his a wolf pelt. Then his mother is
killed by a roving band of warriors called Niedings. His young sister is taken captive by
them. Siegmund wanders the earth and everywhere he goes he finds sorrow and trouble. He
calls himself Wewhalt (Woeful).
His sister is made to marry one of the Niedings, Hunding who lives in a great hall with
a tree in the middle of it. At their wedding ceremony an old man with a gray hat pulled
over one of his eyes barges in and violently sticks a sword in the trunk of the tree. To
all he looks menacing, but on Sieglinde he smiles - she knows that this is her father,
Walse. All the guests try to pull the swords out of the tree - but none can and there it
stays with the imprisoned daughter of Walse.
Storms drive Siegmund on who in a recent encounter has lost all his weapons. Now
defenseless he finds Hunding's hut and enters - falling on the floor in exhaustion.
Sieglinde comes out and revives the stranger and offers him some water. He thanks her for
it and starts to leave saying misery and woe follow him wherever he goes. She tells him to
stay for he can not bring misery to a place that already has it. Hunding arrives and he
tells both of them his story, calling himself Wewhalt. Hunding notices the
between both them, and then realizes that this man is an enemy of his men, the