At the bottom of the Rhine
A greenish twilight, lighter above
than below. The upper part is filled with undulating water, which
streams respectively from right to left. Towards the bottom the waves
resolve themselves into a mist which grows finer as it descends, so
that a space, as high as a mans body from the ground, appears to be
quite free from the water, which floats like a train of clouds over
the gloomy stretch below. Steep rocky peaks jut up everywhere from
the depths, and enclose the entire stage. The ground is a wild
confusion of jagged rocks, no part of it being quite level, and on
every side deeper fisures are indicated by a still denser gloom.
Woglinde circles with graceful swimming movements round the central
O ye billows,Rock ye our cradle!Wagala weia!Wallala,
weiala, weia!WELLGUNDE [From above.Woglinde, watchest
alone?WOGLINDEIf Wellgunde came we were
two.WELLGUNDE [Dives down to the rock.How keepest
thou watch?WOGLINDE [Swimming off, eludes her.Wary of
[They playfully tease and chase one
FLOSSHILDE [From above.Heiaha
weia!Ho! ye wild sisters!WELLGUNDEFlosshilde,
swim!Woglinde flies:Help me to hinder her flying.FLOSSHILDE
[Dives down between the two at play.The sleeping goldBadly
ye guard;Watch with more zealThe slumberer's bed,Or dear
you'll pay for your sport!
[They swim asunder with merry cries.
Flosshilde tries to catch first the one, then the other. They elude
her, and then combine to chase her, darting like fish from rock to
rock with jests and laughter. Meanwhile Alberich climbs out of a dark
ravine on to a rock. He pauses, still surrounded by darkness, and
watches the frolic of the Rhine-Maidens with increasing pleasure.
ALBERICHHey, hey! ye
nixies!Ye are a lovely,Lovable folk!From Nibelheim's
nightFain would I come,Would ye be kind to me.
[The maidens, as soon as they hear
Alberich's voice, stop playing.
WOGLINDEHei! Who is
there?WELLGUNDEA voice! It grows
dark!FLOSSHILDEWho listens below?
[They dive down and see the
WOGLINDE AND WELLGUNDEFie!
the loathsome one!
The frolic of the Rhine-Maidens.
FLOSSHILDE [Swimming up
quickly.Look to the gold!Father warned usOf such a
[Both the others follow her, and all
three gather quickly round the central rock.
there!THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENSWhat wouldst thou below
there?ALBERICHDo I spoil sportBy standing and
gazing here?Dived ye but deeper,Fain the NiblungWould
join in your frolic and play.WELLGUNDEHe wishes to
join us?WOGLINDEIs he in jest?ALBERICHYe
gleam above meSo glad and fair!If one would onlyGlide
down, how close in my armsFondly clasped she would
be!FLOSSHILDEI laugh at my fears:The foe is in
love.WELLGUNDEThe amorous imp!WOGLINDELet
us approach him.
[She sinks down to the top of the
rock, whose base Alberich has reached.
ALBERICHLo! one of them
comes!WOGLINDEClimb up to me here!ALBERICH
[Climbs with gnome-like agility,
though with repeated checks, to the summit of the rock. Irritably.
Horrid rock,So slippery,
slimy!I slide and slip!My hands and feet vainlyAttempt to
hold onTo the slithery surface!Vapour dampFills up my
[He has got near Woglinde.
tellsThat my suitor comes!ALBERICHBe thou my
[He tries to embrace her.
WOGLINDE [Escaping from him.Here
thou must woo,If woo me thou wilt!
[She swims up to another rock.
ALBERICH [Scratching his
head.Alas! not yet caught?Come but closer!Hard I
foundWhat so lightly thou didst.WOGLINDE [Swims to a
third rock lower down.Deeper descend:Thou'lt certainly
seize me!ALBERICH [Clambers down quickly.Down there
it is better!WOGLINDE [Darts upwards to a higher rock at the
side.But better still higher!WELLGUNDE AND FLOSSHILDE
[LaughingHa! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!ALBERICHHow
capture this coy,Elusive fish?Wait for me, false one!
[He tries to climb after her in
[Has sunk down to a lower rock on
the other side.
Heia! my friend there!Dost thou
not hear?ALBERICH [Turning round.What? Didst thou
call?WELLGUNDEBe counselled by me:Forsake
Woglinde,Climb up to me now!ALBERICH
[Climbs hastily over the
river-bottom towards Wellgunde.
Thou art more comelyFar than
that coy one;Her sheen is duller,Her skin too smooth.But
thou must deeperDive to delight me!WELLGUNDE
[Sinking down till she is a little
Well, now am I near?ALBERICHNot
near enough.Thine arms around meTenderly throw,That I may
fondleThy neck with my fingers,And closely may clingTo
thy bosom with love and with longing.WELLGUNDEArt
thou in love?For love art thou pining?Approach and show
meThy face and thy form.Fie! thou horribleHunchback, for
shame!Swarthy, horny-skinnedRogue of a dwarf!Find thou a
sweetheartFonder than I!ALBERICH
[Tries to detain her by force
I may not be fair,But fast I can
[Swimming up quickly to the middle
Hold firm, or I will
escape!WOGLINDE AND FLOSSHILDE [Laughing.Ha! ha! ha!
ha! ha! ha!ALBERICH [Angrily calling after Wellgunde.Fickle
maid!Bony, cold-blooded fish!Fair if I seem not,Pretty
and playful,Smooth and sleek—Hei! if I am so loathsomeGive
thy love to the eels!FLOSSHILDEWhat ails thee,
dwarf?Daunted so soon?Though two have been wooed,Still a
third waits thee,Solace sweetFain at a word to
grant!ALBERICHSoothing songSounds in my
ear!'Twas well I foundThree and not one!The chance is I
charm one of many,Whilst, single, no one would choose me!Hither
come gliding,And I will believe!FLOSSHILDE [Dives down to
Alberich.How senseless are ye,Silly sisters,Not to
see he is fair!ALBERICH [Hastening towards her.I well
may deem themDull and ill-favoured,Seeing how lovely thou
art!FLOSSHILDESing on! Thy song,So soft and
sweet,Entrancing sounds in my ear!ALBERICH [Caressing her
with confidence.My heart burnsAnd flutters and
fails,Flattered by praises so sweet!FLOSSHILDE [Gently
resisting him.Thy grace and beautyMake glad my eye;And
thy smile refreshesMy soul like balm
[She draws him tenderly towards her.
Dearest of men!ALBERICHSweetest
of maids!FLOSSHILDEWert thou but
mine!ALBERICHWert mine for ever!FLOSSHILDE
[Ardently.To be pierced by thy glance,To be pricked by
thy beard,To see and to feel them for aye!Might thy hair hard
as bristlesFlow ever moreEnraptured Flosshilde wreathing!And
thy form like a frog's,And the croak of thy voice—O could
I, dumb with amaze,Marvel forever on these!WOGLINDE and
[Dive down close to them and laugh.
Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!ALBERICH
[Starting in alarm.Wretches, dare ye thus scoff?FLOSSHILDE
[Suddenly darting away from him.
A suitable end to the song.
[She swims up quickly with her
WOGLINDE AND WELLGUNDE
[Laughing.Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!ALBERICH [In a
wailing voice.Woe's me! Ah, woe's me!Alas! Alas!The
third one, so dear,Does she too betray?O sly and
shamefulWorthless and dissolute wantons!Live ye on
liesAlone, O ye false nixie brood?THE THREE
RHINE-MAIDENSWallala! Wallala!Lalalelai leialalei!Heia!
Heia! ha! ha!Shame on thee goblin,Scolding down
yonder!Cease, and do as we bid thee!Faint-hearted wooer,Why
couldst not holdThe maid, when won, more fast?True are
we,And troth we keepWith lovers when once caught.Grasp
then and hold;Away with all fear!In the waves we scarce can
escape.Wallala!Lalaleia! Leialalei!Heia! Heia! Ha hei!
[They swim apart hither and thither,
now lower, now higher, to provoke Alberich to give chase.
The Rhine-Maidens teasing Alberich.
mePassionate firesConsume and flame!Love and fury,Wild,
resistless,Lash me to frenzy!So laugh and lie your fill—One
of you I desire,And one must yield to my yearning!
[He starts chasing them with
desperate energy. He climbs with terrible agility, and, springing
from rock to rock, tries to catch one maiden after another. They keep
eluding him with mocking laughter. He stumbles and falls into the
abyss, and clambers up quickly again and resumes the chase. They sink
down a little towards him; he almost reaches them, but falls, back
again, and once more tries to catch them. At last he pauses out of
breath, and, foaming with rage, stretches his clenched fist up
towards the maidens.
ALBERICHIf but this fist had
[He remains speechless with rage,
gazing upwards, when he is suddenly attracted and arrested by the
following spectacle. Through the water a light of continually
increasing brilliance breaks from above, and, at a point near the top
of the middle rock, kindles to a radiant and dazzling golden gleam. A
magical light streams from this through the waves.
wakener laughs to the deep.WELLGUNDEThrough the
billows greenThe blissful slumberer greets.FLOSSHILDEHe
kisses the eyelid,Making it open;Bathed in splendour,Behold
it smiles,Sending, like a star,Gleaming light through the
waves.THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS
[Swimming gracefully round the cliff
Heia jaheia!Heia jaheia!Wallala
la la la leia jahei!Rhinegold!Rhinegold!Radiant
delight,How glorious and glad thy smile,Over the
waterShooting effulgence afar!Heia jahei!Heia
jaheia!Waken, friend!Wake in joy!That we may please
thee,Merry we'll play,Waters afire,Billows aflame,As,
blissfully bathing,Dancing and singing,We dive and encircle
thy bed!Rhinegold!Rhinegold!Heia jaheia!Heia
jaheia!Wallala la la la heia jahei!
[With increasing mirthful
abandonment the maidens swim round the rock. The water is filled with
a glimmering golden light.
[Whose eyes, strongly attracted by
the radiance, stare fixedly at the gold.
What is it, sleek ones,That
yonder gleams and shines?THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENSWhere
dost thou hail from, O churl,Of the Rhinegold not to have
heard?WELLGUNDEKnows not the elfOf the famed eye
goldenThat wakes and sleeps in turn?WOGLINDEOf
the star resplendentDown in the depthsWhose light illumines
the waves?THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS [TogetherSee how
gailyWe glide in the glory!Wouldst thou alsoBe bathed in
brightness,Come, float and frolic with us!Wallala la la leia
lalei!Wallala la la leia jahei!ALBERICHHas the
gold no valueApart from your games?It were not worth
getting!WOGLINDEHe would not scoff,Scorning the
gold,Did he but know all its wonders!WELLGUNDEThat
man surelyThe earth would inheritWho from the
RhinegoldFashioned the ringWhich measureless power
imparts.FLOSSHILDEOur father told us,And strictly
bade usGuard with prudenceThe precious hoardThat no thief
from the water might steal it.Be still, then, chattering
fools.WELLGUNDEO prudent sister,Why chide and
reproach?Hast thou not heardThat one aloneCan hope to
fashion the gold?WOGLINDEOnly the manWho love
defies,Only the manFrom love who fliesCan learn and
master the magicThat makes a ring of the gold.WELLGUNDESecure
then are weAnd free from care:For love is part of living;No
one would live without loving.WOGLINDEAnd least of
all he,The languishing elf,With pangs of lovePining
away.FLOSSHILDEI fear him notWho should surely
know,By his savage lustAlmost inflamed.
"Mock away! Mock away!The
Niblung makes for your toy!"
brandIn the surging waves,In lovesick frenzyHissing
loud.THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS [Together.Wallala!
Wallaleia la la!Join in our laughter,Lovable elf!In the
golden gloryHow gallant thy sheen!O come, lovely one, laugh
as we laugh!Heia jaheia!Heia jaheia!Wallala la la la leia
[They swim, laughing, backwards and
forwards in the light.
[His eyes fixed on the gold, has
listened attentively to the sisters rapid chatter.
Could I trulyThe whole earth
inherit through thee?If love be beyond meMy cunning could
[In a terribly loud voice.
Mock away! Mock!The Niblung
makes for your toy!
[Raging he springs on to the middle
rock, and clambers to the top. The maidens scatter, screaming, and
swim upwards on different sides.
THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENSHeia!
Heia!heia jahei!Save yourselves!The elf is
distraught!Swirling waters splashAt every leap:The
creature's crazy with love!Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!ALBERICH
[Reaching the top with a last
Still undismayed?Go, wanton in
[He stretches his hand out towards
My hand quenches your light;I
tear the gold from the rock;Forged be the ring for revenge!Bear
witness, ye floods—I forswear love and curse it!
[He tears the gold from the rock
with terrific force, and immediately plunges with it into the depths,
where he quickly disappears. Sudden darkness envelops the scene. The
maidens dive down after the robber.
THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENSSeize
the despoiler!Rescue the gold!Help us! Help us!Woe! Woe!
[The water sinks with them. From the
lowest depth Alberich's shrill, mocking laughter rings up. The rocks
are hidden by impenetrable darkness. The whole stage from top to
bottom is filled with black waves, which for some time appear to sink
"Seize the despoiler!Rescue
the gold!Help us! Help us!Woe! Woe!"