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Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold):

  • Scene I: The dwarf Alberich renounces love in order to steal the magic Rhine-gold from the three Rhinemaidens.
  • Scene II: The giants Fasolt and Fafner build Walhall for Wotan, king of the gods, in exchange for the goddess of love, Freia, but agree to accept the Ring of Power Alberich has made from the gold as ransom.
  • Scene III: Wotan and Loge capture Alberich.
  • Scene IV: They force Alberich to ransom himself with his treasure and the Ring; which Alberich curses. Wotan reluctantly gives up the treasure and Ring to the giants; Fafner murders Fasolt for it; the gods enter Walhall.

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie):

  • Act I: Siegmund, son of Wälse (Wotan), falls in love with the wife of Hunding — unknown to him, his twin, Sieglinde. She shows him the magic sword Wälse has left for him; he seizes it, and they elope together.
  • 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; Fricka, however, horrified by the twins’ adultery and incest, induces him to abandon Siegmund and send the Valkyrie Brünnhilde to ensure that Hunding kill him. Wotan orders her to do so, but discovering that Siegmund prefers perdition with Sieglinde to Walhall, she decides to help him. Wotan appears, shatters Siegmund’s sword, allowing Hunding to kill him; Wotan kills Hunding, and departs in wrath to punish the disobedient Brünnhilde, who has fled with Sieglinde.
  • Act III: The Valkyries gather; Brünnhilde begs them to shelter her and Sieglinde, but they refuse. Brünnhilde dispatches the pregnant Sieglinde to hide. 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 summons a circle of magic fire to protect her.

Siegfried:

  • Act I: Siegfried, the child of Siegmund and Sieglinde, has been raised by Alberich’s brother, Mime, so that he can slay Fafner (whereupon Mime would take the unguarded Ring), though Siegfried detests the sneakish dwarf. Siegfried re-forges the fragments of his father’s sword.
  • Act II: Siegfried kills Fafner, and does the same to Mime when the dwarf tries to poison him; Siegfried takes the Ring.
  • Act III: Told of the sleeping Brünnhilde by a wood-bird, Siegfried defies Wotan, passes through the fire, and wakes her, claiming her as his lover.

Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods):

  • Prologue: The three Norns’ thread of fate snaps. Siegfried leaves Brünnhilde to seek adventure.
  • Act I: Hagen, son of Alberich, suggests to his half-brother Gunther that they use a love-potion to make Siegfried fall in love with their sister Gutrune and induce him to win Brünnhilde for Gunther. He does so, taking back the Ring he had given her.
  • Act II: When the captive Brünnhilde sees Siegfried with Gutrune, she declares that he has been her lover. Siegfried denies the charge, but she, Gunther, and Hagen swear revenge on him, and Brünnhilde reveals his weakness: he can be stabbed in the back.
  • Act III: Hagen spears Siegfried, and then murders Gunther for the Ring. Brünnhilde appears to prevent him taking it, and orders a funeral pyre for Siegfried, on which she immolates herself; the flames rise to kindle Walhall, destroying Wotan and all the gods. The Rhine overflows its banks, and the Rhine-maidens drown Hagen and claim the Rhine-gold from the ashes.
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