Opera 1: Das Rheingold
The dwarf Alberich starts the whole thing in motion by stealing the gold from the Rhinemaidens. The Rhinemaidens are seductive young beauties and as Alberich flirts with them, one by one they clown him and call him ugly. He gets pissed. When they brag about the gold and tell him that the only way someone can take it is if they renounce love, he's like - sure, why not? It's not like I'm getting in love from you guys. Screw love!
Only problem is that this gold when fashioned into a ring makes the ring holder super powerful. And power is like a drug.
Meanwhile, Wotan, god of everything, has got the two giants Fasolt and Fafner to build Valhalla, his pimped out crib. Once completed, the giants are all - hey give us our payment! You said we could have Fricka's sister! (Fricka is Wotan's wife.)
Wotan's like oh eff - my wife will kill me. His buddy Loge (god of fire) tells him about this ring that Alberich has and the two go down to Niebelheim (land of the dwarfs) to steal it. And they do - remarkably easy, too.
Alberich is pissed and puts a curse on the ring.
Since its gold gave me
now may its magic bring
death to whoever wears it!
Whoever possesses it
shall be consumed with care,
and whoever has it not
be gnawed with envy!
Each shall itch
to possess it,
but none in it
shall find pleasure!
Thus, in direst distress,
the Niblung blesses
Sure enough when Wotan gives the gold/ring to the giants Fasolt and Fafner as payment for services rendered, they start fighting and one of them kills the other. Just like Cain and Abel. Fafner turns himself into a dragon and sits on the gold and ring.
Wotan's like, oh shit. Maybe this curse thing is for real, after all.
Fade to black.
Opera 2: Die Walkure
So this one woman Sieglinde is in this really lousy marriage. Her husband hits her and is all "serve the meal for us men!" One day this hot guy named Siegmund comes knocking at her door and there are instant sparks. Unfortunatley, Siegmund is running away from people who wanted to kill him (red flag #1). Then Sieglinde finds out that the people that are chasing Siegmund are acutally related to her hated husband who now wants to kill Siegmund as well (red flag #2). And then Seligmund finds out that Siegmund is actually her twin brother (red flag #3).
But Wagner is a total romantic, and their love and resulting duet is one of the highlights of the cycle. Placido Domingo at the ripe old age of 67 knocked this out of the park. The half black/white face thing symbolizes their twin nature as well as their half divinity.
Sieglinde points her brother/lover to Notung, his trusty sword that was stuck in a tree by his (her) father Wotan, Excalibur style. Many men have tried to remove the sword, but all have failed. He pulls it out with ease, symbolizing their union. Now he has something to fight the husband with.
Wotan wants to protect his son Siegmund, so he asks his daughter, the fierce warrior Brunhilde of the Valkyries, to lend a helping hand.
But there's trouble. Fricka, Wotan's wife with the crazy long arms, is the goddess of marriage and fidelity. She was like, "uh huh - oh no they didn't! Bitch cheated on her husband and they're twins. This is some Jerry Springer shit, yo! Turn your back on your boy. Don't even think about helping him anymore." Wotan's like, "Fine. Slow your roll." But he's sad about it.
Brunhilde was fully prepared to ride into battle and defend Siegmund. But now her dad Wotan was like, absolutely not. You can't because my wife said it wasn't cool. But Brunhilde knew what her Wotan really wanted, so she helped Siegmund anyway. That's my girl.
Brunhilde helps and tells Siegmund that he must come with her to the saftey of Valhalla, but he doesn't want to leave his love (sister) Sieglinde. Brunhilde is touched and protects Siegmund from the jealous husband's spear.
But you can't go against Wotan. He finds out and he pissed. He breaks Siegmund's sword and vows to punish Brunhilde.
Brunhilde tries to get shelter from her Valkyrie sisters as they ride into battle to pick up fallen heroes. No dice. Loved their costumes and their horses. The figure in the middle is a symbol of Wotan.
Wotan arrives and sentences his brave and fearless daughter who rides with her sisters in battle to the life of a mere mortal. She is to be put to sleep and awakened by the any man that stumbles across her. Her dress changes from black and white to black, white, and red - symbolizing her new found mortality.
She begs forgiveness and explains that she was just trying to do what Wotan really wanted to do deep inside. She wanted to protect Sieglinde and her unborn child. She was touched by the fact that Siegmund didn't want to leave Sieglinde behind when she came to take him to Valhalla.
Wotan relents, and changes his punishment. Instead of being woken up by any man, she will be awoken by a true hero.
Farewell, you bold,
You, my heart's
Farewell, farewell, farewell!
If I must reject you
and may not lovingly
greet you again with my greeting,
if you may no longer
ride beside me,
or bring me mead at table;
if I must lose
you whom I loved
you, laughing joy of my eyes:
then a bridal fire
shall burn for you,
as it never burned for any bride!
A blaze of flame
shall burn round the rock;
with devouring terror
let it scare the fainthearted;
let cowards run away
from Brünnhilde's rock!
I'm not going to lie - tears here.
He gets Loge (the devil looking fire man) to encircle her rock with a magic blue fire that can only be broached by someone who knows no fear.
Die Walkure ends. LOVED this one.
Opera 3: Siegfried
This one's kind of like a fairy tale.
Okay, Siegfried is the incestuous child of Siegmund and Sieglinde. He's also the hero.
He's been raised by the dwarf Mime and Mime's basic goal is to get the hero to win back the infamous ring. But he hates Mime and minces no words about it.
Much you've taught me, Mime,Ouch. Total dysfunctional relationship. It gets worse. lol
and much I've learned from you;
but what you most sought to teach me
I never succeeded in learning:
how to tolerate you.
Siegfried knows that his father had this great sword, but that it got broken. So he decides to forge it again himself, in my favorite male aria. Super catchy with the ho hai!s
Seigfried needs to learn fear, so Mime takes him to the dragon Fafner that is guarding the gold and the ring. He's crafty, that one.
After he conquers the dragon, Mime plans to poison Seigfired so he can have the ring all to himself. Seigfriend kills the dragon/Fafner pretty easily with his fancy new sword/light saber.
After he licks the dragon blood off his hands, he can understand Mime's murderous thoughts. So he kills him too.
Then a bird tells him about a beautiful woman (Brunhilde) guarded by a magic fire that can only be awakened by someone that has no fear.
When he sees her, he is overcome by her beauty. He kisses Brunhilde and she awakens with one of my favorite arias of the entire cycle.
So beautiful. (This is the part when the guys sitting next to me burst out in racking sobs. Tears are one thing - but keep that shiz quiet.)
They sing a love duet and awakened by the love of a woman, Siegfried changes colors. That is quite the consummation.
All is good... for now... lol