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(Wagner: Das Rheingold; Siegfried). Ten. A Nibelung, Alberich's brother. Like the rest of his race, he mines metals in the bowels of the earth where they live.

Das Rheingold: He is dominated and bullied by his brother, but is nevertheless a wily old bird. Mime forges the Tarnhelm from the Rhine gold and, realizing it has magical powers, tries to keep it. Alberich makes himself invisible by use of the Tarnhelm, and then beats up his brother, confiscating the Tarnhelm. Mime explains to Wotan and Loge how Alberich also has a Ring forged from the Rhine gold which gives him absolute power over his fellow creatures.

Siegfried: When the gold was stolen from Alberich, he lost his power over Mime, who ran off into the forest. There he met the dying Sieglinde, who entrusted to him her newborn son Siegfried, together with the fragments of the sword which belonged to the child's father. He has brought up the boy to manhood, and has made him many swords, but each one Siegfried shatters. Siegfried quizzes Mime about his childhood, wanting to know why he has no mother and why he does not look like Mime. Mime explains how he helped Sieglinde, showing him the pieces of Nothung. Mime is now trying to forge a sword from the fragments, as he is sure the boy would not be able to break it and could use it to kill the dragon Fafner and steal back the gold for Mime. Siegfried goes out and Wotan arrives in his guise as the Wanderer. Wotan and Mime ask each other three riddles—the forfeit for failure is their life. Wotan answers those put to him by Mime and then asks his own. The first two Mime answers. The last question is: ‘Who can forge a sword from these fragments?’ Mime, frightened, is unable to answer. Wotan tells Mime that the sword can only be forged by a hero who knows no fear. He also warns him that, through this hero, Mime will be killed. Wotan leaves and Siegfried returns. Mime talks to Siegfried of the emotion of fear, which the boy has never experienced. He tells him about the dragon, but this just inspires the boy to want to fight it.

Angry that Mime has not managed to forge the sword, Siegfried snatches up the pieces of metal and himself forges a sword. Mime takes him to Fafner's cave and Siegfried kills the dragon. Licking drops of Fafner's blood off his hand, he finds it has given him the power both to understand the language of the birds and to know what is in Mime's mind. Determined to possess the gold, Mime offers Siegfried a poisoned drink, but realizing what is afoot, Siegfried kills Mime. Arias: Zwangwolle Plage! Müh ohne Zweck! (‘Forced drudgery! Toil to no end!’); Einst lag wimmernd ein Weib (‘One day a woman lay whimpering’); Fühltest du nie im finstren Wald. (‘Have you never felt, in the gloomy forest’); Wilkommen, Siegfried! (‘Welcome, Siegfried!’).

This is one of the Ring's rewarding roles for a character tenor, but is nevertheless, especially in Siegfried, ‘a big sing’. Names that come to mind include Gerhard Stolze, Julius Patzak, Gregory Dempsey, Heinz Zednik, Peter Haage, Paul Crook, Graham Clark, Manfred Jung, John Dobson, and Peter Bronder. Created (R. 1869 and S. 1876) by Carl Schlosser.


Subjects: Opera.

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