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The Rhinegold: Page 189
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sulphurous vapours rising from it spread out over the whole stage, quickly filling it with dense clouds. The remaining gods are already invisible.)

 

[Donner, Froh, and Fricka bid them farewell, with hope of a safe return.]

Clearly, Wotan is motivated to redeem Freia from the Giants by fear of perishing, fear of the loss of immortality, not because he regrets the loss of love. Furthermore, since it is only through Alberich’s sacrifice of love that Alberich was able to forge the Ring from the Rhinegold, manufacture the Tarnhelm, and amass that hoard of treasure with which Wotan will redeem Freia (as we’ll see in R.3), Wotan must confess not only that he depended on the Giants to build the heavenly abode Valhalla, but that he can only securely take possession of the gods’ abode, and keep safe Freia (who represents the essence of religious belief), by virtue of Alberich’s forging of his Ring. For it was the forging of human consciousness by evolution which made man’s invention of the gods possible (#19>#20a). And it is only thanks to Alberich’s forging of his Ring of consciousness, which produced man’s imagination, that Wotan can redeem Valhalla and its ideal, Freia (the product of man’s imagination), from physical nature’s (and the body’s) claim on it, i.e., redeem it from the truth. For imagination, even the artistic imagination represented by Loge, is a byproduct of the human mind’s gift of symbolic abstraction.

[R.2-3: S]

This brings us to the musical transition from R.2 (the meadow before Valhalla) to R.3 (Alberich’s cavernous hell Nibelheim), which introduces three new motifs, namely #39, #40, and #41:

(Interlude: The sulphurous mists darken in colour to form a completely black cloud, which moves from below to above; this is then transformed into a solid, rocky chasm that continues moving upwards, thus giving the impression that the stage is sinking deeper and deeper into the earth. #33b?; #37; #5; #12; #19; #25>[[ #39 ]]>[[ #40 ]]; [[ #41 ]]; a dark red light begins to glow at various points in the distance: a noise as though of people forging can be heard on all sides. The ringing of the anvils dies away. A subterranean cavern, stretching away endlessly into the distance, can be made out, apparently opening into narrow shafts on every side.)

Cooke provided a very astute and insightful analysis of this musical transition. #39, he notes, is a variant of that portion of Freia’s Motif, #25, which is the embryo for the fundamental Love Motif, whose definitive form is #64b. #39 actually harks back to a pre-#25 Embryo of the love motif, heard in his vocal line as Alberich mourned his rejection by the three Rhinedaughters: “(#25 or #39 Embryo:) Has the third one, so true, betrayed me as well?” As Cooke said, the conjunction in this interlude of #39 with #5 recalls Alberich’s cry of woe at his irrevocable loss of love, for just prior to this remark he cried out “(#5a) Wehe! (#5b) Ach, Wehe!” The orchestra’s urgent repetition of

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