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Dwarfs who dwell deep in the bowels of the earth. The Nibelungs are good diggers and clever metal-workers, and they tend to be covetous. The most important Nibelungs are Alberich and his brother Mime. Alberich experiences a terrible rise and tragic fall in “Das Rheingold,” and spends the rest of the “Ring” trying to regain what he has lost. Mime, one of the cycle’s most complex characters, dominates the first half of “Siegfried.” The other Nibelungs are terrified, mute minions when they appear in “Das Rheingold,” enslaved by the power of Alberich’s magic ring.
Musical example from Scene Four of “Das Rheingold,” Richard Paul Fink (Alberich) and orchestra of Seattle Opera conducted by Robert Spano. Photo by Rozarii Lynch.