I Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold)
Mid-deep in the Rhine the three Rhinesisters protect the Rhinegold from thieves about its rocky mount. Alberich rises through a rock fissure from the depths, courts each Rhinesister, and fails with all three. The sun shines down from above, illuminating the Rheingold. The Rhinesisters tell Alberich about the Gold and Ring. He leaps up the Rock, forswears Love, steals the Gold and plunges back to the depths.
In the morning mists of a rocky height, the Gods assemble before newly-raised Walhall on higher rocky Mount behind them. From below, the brothers Riesen arrive to collect Golden-Haired Freia, dispenser of the Golden Apples of Eternal Youth, as wages for building Walhall. The Half-god Loge arrives to announce he has found no substitute payment for Freia, for no man would give up the love of woman - save one, who possesses the Rhinegold and Ring. All evalute this hoard as an acceptable sustitute payment. The Riesen carry off Freia, vowing that if their return at dusk to receive the Gold is fruitless, Freia shall be forfeit. Wotan and Loge travel to Nibelheim to steal Alberich's treasure.
In Nibelheim, Alberich torments his brother Mime for having hid the newly-forged Tarnhelm he ordered Mime to make, then leaves. Wotan and Loge arrive to hear Mime complain of Alberich's enslavement of the Niblungen by the power of the Ring. Alberich returns and threatens his guests with the storming of the God's (Spirits of Aither) heavenly abodes by the Niblungen (Children of Mist), and the universal overthrow of love by greed, by the might of the Ring. Loge tricks Alberich into using Tarnhelm to change himself into two creatures - a fire-breathing Dragon (Shin) and a toad (Qoph). They capture the toad, bind Alberich and ascend through the earth's depths (Tav) to the mount of the Gods.
Alberich is made to summon the Niblungen by the Ring to deliver the Rhinegold as ransom. Loge adds Tarnhelm to the ransom, and when Wotan demands the Ring, Alberich refuses. After Wotan tears the Ring from Alberich's finger, Alberich curses all who possess it with death, fear and worry until it returns to him. Wotan wears the Ring heedless of the curse.
The Riesen return to collect payment, having the treasure piled up between their staves until it obscures Freia in-between from their sight. Fafner has Tarnhelm added to the ransom, and Fasolt, still seeing Freia, necessitates the addition of the Ring. Wotan refuses, but Erda rises from the Earth to warn Wotan that the end of Gods looms because of the cursed Ring, and pleads with Wotan to reliquish it. Wotan agrees, gives it up for Freia's ransom, freeing Freia, and resulting swiftly in Fafner killing Fasolt for the Ring. Wotan is overwhelmed with understanding of what is happening, and swears to seek out Erda to understand more.
Donner summons the clouds of doubt surrounding them to form a thundercloud, then dissappates them in lightning and thunder with a blow of his Hammer. Froh summons Bifrost to appear in its wake, and the setting sun appears to reveal both the Rainbow Bridge and Walhall. Wotan reflects on the Beauty of Walhall, and after a great idea occurs to him, he gives Walhall its name. He bekons the Gods to follow him into Walhall. When all are about to depart, the Rhinesisters call up from the Rhine for their Gold. Loge tells them to bask instead in the newfound glory of the Gods. They respond that as long as the Gold is kept from them, all rejoicing above will be cowardly and false. Wotan leads the Gods in procession to the foot of Bifrost, then turns to hold out his hand to Loge in invitation (L). Loge holds up his palms instead (U), as he is ashamed of the foolishness of the Gods he admires. The Curtain falls before the audience (X).
II Die Walkure (The Walkure)
Siegmund drops asleep in exhaustion before a stranger's hearth. Sieglide finds him, he awakens, and she gives him refreshment from her drinking horn. For both, it is love at first sight. Hunding arrives, assures himself that a proper manner has been observed in receiving the stranger, and has them assemble about the table for food and drink. Hunding questions Siegmund about his identity, and his answer reveals he is the enemy Hunding was summoned to kill in vengeance for the deaths of his kinsmen, murdered when Siegmund tried to prevent the wedding of a maiden to one she didn't love. Hunding vows to let Siegmund stay for the night, and to fight him in mortal combat in the morning. Sieglinde gives Hunding a sleeping potion from her horn, and bids Siegmund leave before he awakes. She shows him the Sword in her tree, there to be freed only by the one destined to avenge her being wedded to one she didn't love. She names him Siegfried, he names the Sword Nothung, and frees Nothung from the tree.
Atop a rocky fell, Wotan orders Brunnhilde to give Victory to the Walsung. Fricka storms toward them, Brunnhilde departs, and Fricka arrives to tell Wotan that either he uphold the wedding vows sacred to her, and withdraw his magic from invincible Nothung, or she will wage war upon Wotan. Wotan consents to betray his son, to uphold the wedding vow and prevent holy war. She exits, and Brunnhilde returns. Wotan confides in her his plans to have a hero, spiritually worthy to defy the Law of the Gods, return the Rhinegold and Ring to the Rhinesisters, before Alberich new-born son, the enemy of love, regains it for his father. He curses this child with inheriting all that he hates - the empty pomp of the Gods. He orders her to bring about the Walsungs fall against his True Will, but when the battle rages, she defies his orders and stays loyal to his true will. Wotan, however, arrives on the scene, shatters Siegmund's sword with his Spear, and Siegmund falls to Hunding. Brunnhilde collects the sword halves, summons Sieglinde, who is pregnant with Siegmund's son, and carries her away. Meanwhile, Wotan waves Hunding off with death, mourns his son, and goes off to chase Brunnhilde.
The Walkuren assemble on their fell with the souls of fallen heroes. Brunnhilde is late, arrives with Sieglinde, tells her sisters of her betrayal, and they betray her their aid of Sieglinde. Brunnhilde announces that Sieglinde is pregnant with the world's greatest hero, that he will forge Nothung anew, and names him Victory's Peace. She decides to let Wotan vent his fury on her, and sends Sieglinde off to the eastern forest with the shattered halves of Nothung.
Wotan arrives to see the Walkuren arranged around Brunnhilde to hide her. He tells them of her betrayal, and they betray him their aid in finding her. Brunnhilde elects to come forward, and Wotan disowns her, banishing her from the Walkuren, condemned to sleep atop the Walkuren fell to be the wife of whatever man woke her. He threatens the Walkuren with the same fate if they defy him, then sends them off from the fell with orders never to return.
Brunnhilde begs that he surround the fell with fire that none but the worthiest might break through to win her as wife. He refuses twice, but after she appeals to him to kill her rather than defile her divinity on the third attempt, he agrees. He puts her to sleep, summons Loge to surround her fell with fire, and swears that none who fear Wotan's Spear Tip shall ever break through the fire.