Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Home About the Amato Opera Meet Tony Amato Scrapbook Opera Primer Opera Across America
A Love Affair with Opera - Opera Primer

IntroductionGallery of StarsLiving TheaterGlossary
photo of opera singer
Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) - Richard Wagner - 1876

Das Rheingold
Alberich's eyes set sight on an illuminated summit of rock. He is told that that it is Rhinegold, and that if a ring were made of Rhinegold the wearer would rule the world. With his plans to overthrow the gods and rule the world, Alberich steals the Rhinegold. Controversy arises as the gods request that Wotan give them the Rhinegold as ransom in exchange for Freia. Woton then faces the challenge of obtaining the gold from Alberich. The ring provided Alberich the magic power to transform into any object, and Wotan uses this power to outsmart his opponent. Wotan tricks Alberich by having him transform into a toad. When the transformation is complete, he traps him and steals the ring. Alberich thus puts a curse of death on the ring until it returns to his finger, which eventually leads to the demise of the gods.

Die Walkure
After an exhausting pursuit by his enemies, Siegmund the Walsung stumbles into an unfamiliar house in the forest for shelter. He is greeted by Sieglinde and the two are immediately attracted to each other. Siegmund tells the tale of his disaster filled life, and Sieglinde tells him of her forced wedding. Siegmund embraces her and vows to free her from her forced marriage. After a conversation about their past Sieglinde recognizes Siegmund as her twin brother. Siegmund thus claims her as his bride, reuniting the Walsungs. A sword fight ensues between Siegmund and Hunding (Sieglinde's husband) in which Wotan intervenes and shatters Siegmunds sword leaving him to be killed by Hunding. Sieglinde later finds that she bears Siegmund's child.

After giving birth Sieglinde dies, but her child Siegfried grows to be a man. After learning of his father's death in combat he requests proof of the story told. Siegfried is given the shattered remains of his father's sword, and insists that the pieces be welded. The sword however can only be forged by one who has never known fear. It is Siegfried who has never known fear and he forges the sword himself. Seigfried uses the sword to slay Fafner and learns that the magic treasure including the ring made of Rheingold is within Fafner's den. Seigfried takes the treasure as proof of his victory. He is then told about a maiden who can only be won as a bride by one who knows no fear. He sets off and finds Brunnhilde and she throws herself into his arms.

Siegfried and his bride Brunnhilde emegre from their cave. Although fearful that she may lose her hero in battle, she sends Siegfried forth to deeds of valor. As a token of love Siegfried gives his wife the magic ring he took from Fafner, and they bid farewell. Controversy arrives when Gunther, Lord of the Gibichungds, attempts to acquire the magic ring. He does this by giving Siegfried a magic potion that causes him to forget Brunnhilde and fall in love with Gunther's sister Gertrune. He then has Siegfried tear the magic ring from Brunnhilde finger and claim her as Gunther's bride. After Siegfried's denial of her, because of the spell, she is set on revenge and reveals that a spear to the back would kill him. This knowledge leads to Siegfried's death.