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The Rhinegold: Page 229
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Alberich: (#19:) Confounded thief! But only be patient! (#19 vari:) He who made the old one will make me another: I still wield the power that Mime obeys (:#19 vari). (#36 vari:; #19?:) It’s hard, I confess, to abandon this cunning defence to my craftily scheming foe (:#36 vari; :#19?)! (#42) Well then! Alberich’s left you everything: loosen my bonds now, you evil pair!

 

Loge: (to Wotan) are you content? Shall I let him go?

 

Wotan: A golden ring stands proud on your finger … . It too is part of the hoard, I think. (…)

 

Alberich: (trembling) My life, but not the ring!

 

Wotan: (…) I demand the ring: with your life you can do what you want!

 

Alberich: if I ransom life and limb, I must also ransom the ring; (#5 loose vari:) hand and head, eye and ear are no more my own than this bright red ring (:#5 loose vari)?

 

Wotan: [[ #58b embryo: ]] you call the ring your own (:#58b embryo)? (#5) Are you raving mad, you shameless elf? Tell me calmly, from whom did you take the gold from which you made the glittering jewel? Was it your own what you stole from the watery depths, you wretch? (#15?:) Consult with the Rhine’s fair daughters and ask if they gave you the gold as your own (:#15?) which you stole to make a ring.

 

Through his Ring-power Alberich has compelled his Nibelung slaves to carry his hoard of treasure from the silent depths of Nibelheim to the light of day, so Alberich can ransom his life. This is not, however, the fulfillment of Alberich’s threat in R.3 that he would overthrow the gods once his hoard has risen from the depths to daylight, because in the present case Alberich’s powers, deriving from the Ring, have been co-opted by Wotan and Loge, and are emerging into the light of day under their control. Thanks to Loge’s cunning the gods can, as it were, draw advantage from Alberich’s envy, transforming his threat into something benign, through a process of repression of what is bad and sublimation of what is good, a distillation of nectar, so to speak, from a cesspool. But Wotan also demands the Tarnhelm, and Alberich is compelled to give it up also. However, Alberich still holds his Ring.

Wagner’s employment of #36 here, as Alberich consoles himself for the loss of his Hoard of Treasure and the Tarnhelm, because he knows that through his Ring’s power he can replace them, is problematical. #36 is based upon #27, the motif first heard when Fasolt doubted that the gods had

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