Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold

Upcoming Dates

Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold



by Richard Wagner
OCTOBER 1 – 22
Performed in German with projected English translations
Performance running time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Das Rheingold Opera Overview

Join us for an extraordinary story told over the course of four individual operas. Together, they comprise Wagner’s magnificent Ring cycle, one of the greatest musical achievements in Western culture and an artistic journey that every opera lover should experience.

Lyric’s ambitious new Ring starts with Das Rheingold in 2016, conducted by our own celebrated music director, Sir Andrew Davis. We’ll meet the Rhinemaidens, guardians of magical gold that can be transformed into a ring that grants its owner unlimited power. When Alberich steals the gold, the struggle among the legendary characters begins, as Wotan, king of the gods, vies with him for supreme power. Immerse yourself in thrilling drama and music of vast proportions during this first of four new productions from world-renowned director David Pountney.

The Ring cycle is a coproduction by Lyric Opera of Chicago and Teatro Real, Madrid.



Abbot Fund      Bulley & Andrews

Image: Todd Rosenberg


Das Rheingold Opera Resources

View Program Book

Short Synopsis

The Rhinemaidens are guarding magic gold. If anyone renounces love and then makes the gold into a ring, he will become all-powerful. The Nibelung dwarf Alberich does this, then enslaves his brother Mime and all the other Nibelungs. Wotan, the chief god, hears of the ring and descends to Nibelheim in pursuit of it. After being captured by Wotan and forced to give up the ring, Alberich curses it. Wotan is warned by Erda, the earth-goddess, to avoid the ring. He gives it — and the rest of Alberich’s riches — to the giants, Fasolt and Fafner, as payment for their having built Valhalla, the gods’ newly completed fortress. Fafner kills Fasolt to keep the ring for himself. The gods enter Valhalla with no hint of the catastrophes to come.

Das Rheingold Opera at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Audio Highlights

Richard Wagner

Recording by EMI – Leiland, Küttenbach, Turner, Svendén, Schreibmayer, Tomlinson, cond. Barenboim. Courtesy Warner Classics.

"Lugt, Schwestern…Rheingold! Rheingold!”

"Zur Burg führt die Brücke…Abendlich strahlt"

Das Rheingold at Lyric Opera

Das Rheingold – The Journey Begins, the Rave Reviews Roll In!

Lyric opened its 62nd season and launched its new Ring cycle Saturday, October 1, with a thrilling new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold. The sold-out house roared its approval with an immediate standing ovation. Rave reviews from national and local critics are pouring in. What a great way to start the season — and the Ring!

Read More

Das Rheingold Tech Rehearsals

Das Rheingold Gets Serious on Stage While The Second City Prepares the Laughs

Lyric’s summer technical rehearsals kicked off with Das Rheingold. This four-day period allowed for the show’s creative team to collaborate with Lyric’s technical staff on the look and logistics of the new production. Meanwhile, the creative team at The Second City joined forces with Lyric to take a fresh look at Wagner and his epic Ring.

Read More

Why you should see Das Rheingold at Lyric Opera

Why Das Rheingold at Lyric is a Must-See Experience This Fall

Das Rheingold will be a season-opener like no other in October when the curtain rises on the depths of the Rhine River and the trio of careless mermaidens guarding their gold. There are loads of reasons you’ll want to join us this fall for the first installation of Richard Wagner’s epic Ring cycle.  Here are just a few...

Read More

Das Rheingold Comic Book

Pre-Season Summer Reading

There are two fine graphic-novel treatments of the Ring cycle: DC Comics’ version by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane (1997) and Maverick’s by P. Craig Russell (2000). Great for making sense of the sprawling tetralogy, and for engaging new Ring-heads. And of course there’s the perennial favorite, ”What’s Opera, Doc?,” which introduced many an opera lover to Wagner.

Read More

Das Rheingold Director

Ring Up the Curtain!

The appeal of Wagner’s Ring cycle is timeless. “It’s a mythological story,” says David Pountney, the internationally celebrated British director who opens Lyric’s 2016/17 season with Das Rheingold, beginning his own first complete Ring production. “All such stories are stories about then and about now and about the future. That’s the point of mythical stories. They’re always topical.”

Read More

Musical excerpts for Das Rheingold provided by through generous arrangement with Warner Classics, Official Education and Promotion Music Provider for Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Das Rheingold Synopsis


Scene 1: The Rhine

Scene 2: An open space before Valhalla

Scene 3: Nibelheim

Scene 4: An open space before Valhalla

There will be no intermission.

Scene 1.

Woglinde and Wellgunde are guarding the gold at the bottom of the Rhine. Flosshilde chides them for negligence when the Nibelung dwarf Alberich appears. The Rhinemaidens quickly realize that lechery has brought the Nibelung to their domain. Sunlight illuminates the gold, and Alberich questions them about it. Wellgunde reveals that the man who renounces love and forges a ring from it will be master of the world. Cursing love, Alberich seizes the gold and rushes away with it.

Scene 2.

As Wotan awakens, he sees that his dream of a grand, imposing, beautiful, newly completed palace is realized. His wife, Fricka, is alarmed: now that the giants, Fasolt and Fafner, have completed the construction, the fee Wotan promised them must be paid – Fricka’s sister, Freia, goddess of youth and beauty. Wotan assures Fricka that he never seriously intended to sacrifice Freia.

When Freia pleads for protection from the giants, Wotan tells her that Loge, the demi-god of fire, has a plan to save her. The giants arrive, eager for their reward. Wotan suggests some other payment, but Fasolt warns him not to break their contract. The giants want Freia not only for herself, but also for her golden apples that ensure the gods’ eternal youth. When the giants attempt to take Freia with them, she summons her brothers, Donner and Froh, to her defense, but Wotan stifles the kindling violence.

When Loge finally appears, the giants repeat their demand. Loge relates how Alberich stole the gold. The gods and giants feel threatened by the Nibelung’s new power. After convincing Fafner that the gold is more valuable than Freia, Fasolt announces that the two will accept it instead of Freia. Loge tells Wotan that there is only one way to obtain the gold: theft. The giants will return for the gold that evening – meanwhile, they take Freia away as a hostage. Deprived of the apples, the gods begin to age and weaken. Wotan and Loge leave for Nibelheim, Alberich’s subterranean kingdom.

Scene 3.

Alberich torments his brother Mime, who yields the magic helmet – the Tarnhelm – that Alberich had ordered him to forge. When Alberich dons the Tarnhelm and becomes invisible, he beats his brother mercilessly. Wotan and Loge find Mime groaning in pain. From him they learn that Alberich has enslaved the Nibelungs and forced them to mine the gold, from which the power-hungry dwarf has amassed an enormous hoard for himself.

Alberich ruthlessly drives his workers, but seeing the two gods, he is immediately suspicious. When he describes his helmet’s powers, Loge asks for a demonstration. Alberich then transforms himself first into a dragon, then a toad. Wotan swiftly captures the toad as Loge snatches the helmet. Alberich is restored to his original form and dragged away by the gods as a prisoner.

Scene 4.

Wotan and Loge inform Alberich that he cannot regain his freedom unless he surrenders his treasures. Trusting the ring’s power to replenish his hoard, Alberich summons the Nibelungs, who appear carrying the gold. Alberich then learns that he must sacrifice the Tarnhelm. When forced to yield the ring, he curses it and whoever possesses it in the future. He leaves, free but powerless.

Fricka, Donner and Froh return, eager to learn the result of Wotan’s mission. The giants arrive with Freia, and Fasolt, who is giving her up reluctantly, demands that the gold be piled so that it will hide her. When her hair gleams through a chink in the pile, Fafner demands that the Tarnhelm fill the opening, but Fafner can still see one of Freia’s eyes. He demands that Wotan close the space with the Nibelung’s ring that the god is wearing on his finger, but Wotan refuses. The earth-goddess Erda appears, reminding Wotan of the curse. He then throws the ring on the pile and reclaims Freia. The giants soon quarrel over the ring, and Fafner kills his brother to possess it before departing with the treasure.

Donner invokes thunder and lightning to clear the sky, so that the gods can properly admire their new home. When it comes into view, Wotan is thrilled. Naming it “Valhalla,” he invites Fricka to dwell there with him. A rainbow bridge appears, and as the gods cross it, they hear the Rhinemaidens pleading for the return of their gold. Loge prophesies the end of the gods. Ordering Loge to silence the Rhinemaidens, Wotan leads the gods as they enter Valhalla with pomp and ceremony.

Claim Your Place Amongst the Gods!

For Ring fans like you, we are thrilled to offer the Valhalla Circle, our annual giving program society for donors seeking access to space events with the cast and crew, exclusive rehearsal performances, and the change to learn more from Ring artists.

Join us on the epic adventure. Join the Valhalla Circle.

Learn More

Featured Media

Das Rheingold Reviews

Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold Opera Trailer

Das Rheingold Trailer

Das Rheingold in Rehearsal

Das Rheingold in Rehearsal

Marie–Jeanne Lecca on the Costumes of Das Rheingold

Marie–Jeanne Lecca on the Costumes of Das Rheingold

David Pountney on Das Rheingold

David Pountney on Das Rheingold

Eric Owens Debuts as Wotan in The Ring at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Eric Owens Debuts as Wotan

3 Things to Listen for in DAS RHEINGOLD

3 Things to Listen for in DAS RHEINGOLD