Hello! I’m the Ring from Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung. Four operas named after me, and I still haven’t got my own Facebook page! But that will change with this blog post: the story of my life.
Trouble in River City
I’m an innocent young nugget of gold, chilling in the Rhine with my sister nuggets. The Rhine maidens are singing about how pretty we are when along comes an ugly dwarf named Alberich. “Hey, girls, have sex with me,” he sings. “Ha ha ha!” reply the Rhine maidens. “As if!”
Oh no! Alberich has stolen me! And now I’m in Nibelheim, home of the dwarfs, where you can’t hear yourself think for the anvils. I’m being separated from the other nuggets, and Alberich is forcing his brother, Mime, to heat me red-hot and beat me with a hammer.
Ow! Ow! Ow!
I’m the Ring!
I’m gorgeous! I’m magical! Alberich wants me, Mime wants me! And here comes one-eyed Wotan, ruler of the gods. Will he want me too?
Stolen again! Alberich puts a curse on me, and now some chick is warning Wotan to ditch me. Reluctantly, he gives me to the two giants who’ve just built a palace for him.
As the curse goes into action, one of the giants murders the other. Wotan and the other gods try not to trip over the body as they walk into their new palace, Valhalla.
The Rhine maidens sing a lament for me. “Rheingold! Rheingold!” It’s catchy in a depressing sort of way.
I’m in a cave with the murderous giant. He’s turned himself into a dragon, which fits, because this opera does “drag on” due to the fact that I’m not in it. Instead, you get some chicks flying around on winged horses: a poor substitute.
These are the Valkyries, fathered by Wotan with quite a few women who aren’t Mrs. Wotan. She now appears and tells Wotan that he should stop draggin’ (see what I did there?) her heart around. She also points out that his plot to get me back involves incest and adultery and won’t work anyway.
Wotan glums off to undo the plot with the help of his favorite Valkyrie, Brunnhilde. But she disobeys him, so he punishes her by putting her to sleep on a mountain surrounded by magic fire.
More lamenting by the Rhine maidens.
In a forest near the dragon’s cave, Siegfried, 17-year-old son of the incestuous couple from the previous opera that I decided not to tell you about, is fixing a broken sword and, since this is an opera, also singing to it.
The sword’s name, Nothung, sounds like “no tongue” in German, so Siegfried comes across as a kid with a pathological fear of French kissing.
And now he’s approaching my cave, accompanied by Mime, who forged me back in the first opera and, like Wotan, has been plotting to get me back. Everybody wants to be my baby! Mime’s cunning plan: Siegfried will kill the dragon and then he, Mime, will kill Siegfried.
This five-hour opera is called Siegfried and we’re only about an hour into it, so guess what happens next?
On top of Old Smoky
Leaving Mime and the dragon dead, Siegs strides off with me on his finger. A bird leads him to Brunnhilde’s mountain, and since the young chump is fearless, he walks right through the magic fire.
At first he thinks Brunnhilde’s a dude. Then he takes off her armor and sees his first pair of breasts. He sings very excitedly about this, and Brunnhilde, once she wakes up, joins him in song. She’s relieved that the guy who’s wakened her has a decent tenor voice, even if he’s a bit of a doofus.
Rhine maidens. Lamenting.
Gosh darn long
It’s time for Götterdämmerung, the twilight of the gods, and not an aria too soon.
After months of increasingly expert shagging — trust me, I had a ring-side view — Siegs leaves me on Brunnhilde’s finger and sets off to earn his hero billing. He travels down the Rhine, generating lots of positive publicity, until he meets the Gibichung family and Alberich’s son, Hagen-Dazs, who is, of course, plotting to get me.
Siegs gets drugged, Brunnie gets kidnapped, and I’m stolen AGAIN, this time by Siegs pretending to be a Gibichung. On a hunting trip, Hagen-Dazs stabs Siegs in the back, but when he tries to take me off Sieg’s finger, the dead hero’s arm rises up, and Hagen-Dazs takes that as a “no.”
Brunnhilde has now been singing in German for three straight operas. She’s had enough. As Valhalla burns and Siegfried’s funeral pyre is set alight, she rides her magic horse into the flames, telling the Rhine maidens that they can quit their kvetching, I’m on my way.
Ow! Ow! Ow!
Water! Ah, that’s better. Hello, Rhine maidens!
Want to know what Siegs and Brunnie got up to on the magic mountain? With videos? Send $19.99 to The Ring, care of The Rhine Maidens, River Rhine, Germany. Don’t forget your self-addressed stamped envelope.