is the shortest opera Richard Wagner wrote. It comprises just one act, and it's technically just the curtain raiser for the main event: the sordid family history of Wotan's children, the Walsungs, as it coincides with the end of the world by fire and flood. Das Rheingold
sets things in motion, as the dwarf Alberich steals the Rhine gold from its watery home, renounces love, and forges the gold into a ring of power. The chief god, Wotan, covets the ring and schemes to get it, but the Nibelung puts a curse on it; it is quickly covered with the blood of the giant Fasolt, coldly slain by his brother Fafner, who prefers gold to love. The gods move into Valhalla, the home built for them by the giants and paid for with the Nibelung's gold, but their doom is now ordained.
In this translation, Rudolph Sabor does for Wagner's epic libretto what John Ciardi did for Dante's visions of hell, purgatory, and heaven: he turns it into readable, understandable English while maintaining most of the original's meter and alliterations. Sabor's version would be admirable for this alone, but he has done his readers the additional favor of noting where leitmotifs occur and offering sidebars on the music and action.
'Best of the music books was Rudolph Sabor's idiosyncratic, cheeky and incisive Translation and Commentaries on Wagner's Ring.' (Observer) 'This is Sabor at his best. An indispensable part of the Wagner lover's library. And for those new to the Ring cycle - what better place to start!' (Opera Now) 'It has been brilliantly done by Rudolph Sabor, whose achievement is magnificent. The clarity, detail, comprehensiveness and sheer usefulness of the volumes cannot be praised too highly. I sincerely hope this will be a model for further companions to other opera composers and their work.' (Financial Times)