When ‘Das Rheingold’ Strikes Today

Tatiana Androsov
3 min readFeb 16, 2023

Yes, it is a grand opera, a Wagnerian one to be more precise, but last night in Dallas it struck a chord even among the many young who came to see it. Performed for over two and a half hours without an intermission, the performance received a standing ovation from a hall that for a Wednesday evening was incredibly full.

Why? A young woman afterwards was surprised to hear the comment that the opera was about greed and power, yet immediately nodded her head and smiling said, “You’re so right!” Then a second later she added, “And about the end, that all things end.”

Consciously and subconsciously the brilliant ploy of the staging had worked. The overture started with a piece of debris from space descending towards the blue sphere of the earth, what was depicted as a giant gold nugget slowly penetrating the layers of the atmosphere before landing in the waters of the Rhine. The part with the gods opened against the background of their new palace — a gleaming glass skyscraper with a giant crane coming up to emphasize that reality.

Having made a magic ring that brings power out of that gold nugget, the one who has managed to do that by giving up ‘love’ does not hesitate to enslave his own people to get them to dig out further riches for him from the depths of the earth. The people’s horrible state, their fear of him, is made to shine through their rags and horrible physical state. The ring is wrenched from him through a ruse and winds up on the finger of the king of the gods. Yet, like in all power struggles that is not the end.

The prankster close to the gods, an accomplished comedian and gymnast in this production, amuses and teases the audience with words of imminent tragedy. However, it is the drama in the next to last scene when Erda, the earth goddess, ascends from the bowels of the earth that steers us. She tells the king of the gods that she carries the past, the present and future with her and warns him of the consequences of losing all compassion to keep the ring. Touched, he gives up the ring of power to save a fellow god. Is this not our Gaia, our own earth, warning us?

The reappearance of the high-rise glass palace as the opera ends with the gods walking toward it on a post storm rainbow may seem reassuring. Yet, the prankster stays behind facing the audience, even casting a few doubts as to a rosy future. Aren’t glass palaces fragile?

Had the staging been traditional, the references to the dangers of power and riches, to building castles would not have been so relevant. The creative minds at the Atlanta Opera that put this present-day twist to a traditional opera have presented a work that consciously or subconsciously resonated with those who had the incredible chance to experience it.



Tatiana Androsov

A novelist on the sea of life coming, cresting and breaking having traveled near & far from a post WWII immigrant childhood to a UN world of poverty and riches.