10 Third Transformation and Scene Four

Das Rheingold is finished--: but I am finished as well!!! . . . Believe me, no work has ever been composed like this before: I imagine my music must be terrible; it is a morass of horrors and sublimities!

( Wagner to Franz Liszt, 15 January 1854)


1. THE THIRD TRANSFORMATION

As mentioned earlier, the third paragraph of the prose sketch outlines the events of both Scenes 3 and 4 of the completed opera; the sentence ' Alberich in his natural form is dragged as a prisoner through the ravines to the rocky heights' implies some sort of transition. This suggests that Wagner originally conceived Das Rheingold in his usual three-act format, with Act III containing two scenes (Nibelheim-Valhalla) separated by an orchestral interlude. By the time he wrote the prose draft, he had of course decided upon a continuous four-scene structure, and he elaborated the transition between the last two scenes as follows:

The scene appears to sink from top to bottom, so that we now seem to ascend. The transformation occurs in exactly the reverse manner as the previous one: finally the rocky region of the second scene reappears: only it is still enveloped in a yellowish dark haze, as at the conclusion of the second scene after Freia was carried off.

The description in the verse draft approaches that of the 1853 printing, although Wagner did make a few changes while writing out the fair copy; for example, the 'yellowish dark haze' became a 'pale mist'. Again, none of the textual manuscripts mention the Nibelung anvils. The stage directions in the score do not specify the 'retrograde' effect ('in exactly the reverse manner as the previous one'), as this is obvious from the music; at one point however, the score does read: 'the transformation leads again past the smithies'.

Westernhagen has pointed out that the complete draft contains a revision of the Loge figurations at m. 2799 (157/1/1);1 he might also

____________________
1
The Forging of the 'Ring', 47.

-181-

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Wagner's Das Rheingold
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Editor's Preface vii
  • Author's Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Structural Outline of Das Rheingold xiv
  • 1 - Preliminaries 1
  • 2 - The Documentary Sources 6
  • 3 - The Forging of the Text 25
  • 4 - Analytical Positions 45
  • 5 - The Opera as a Whole 59
  • 6 - Creatio Ex Nihilo: The Prelude 62
  • 7 - Scene One 87
  • 8 - First Transformation and Scene Two 127
  • 9 - Second Transformation and Scene Three 161
  • 10 - Third Transformation and Scene Four 181
  • II - Summary and Conclusion 215
  • Appendix Transcriptions from Wagner's Complete Draft 220
  • Works Cited 248
  • Index 255
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