Although we didn't have any stage scenery that evening, we had a wonderful innovation which made the songs, arias etc much much more meaningful: all the English translations of the lyrics being sung in German by the relevant singers in front of the orchestra were flashed in real time on a screen lowered from the ceiling of the concert hall. I wish the HKPO would do that each time we have singers who sing in a foreign tongue because the majority of the audience in Hong Kong do not know German, Italian, Spanish or even French. The instant translations made the emotions being conveyed by the singers' voices much more comprehensible and for that reason adds enormously to their appreciation and enjoyment.
The libretto of the Das Rheingold, written by Wagner himself and in which he mixed in both German and Nordic mythical elements and which tells of the story of creation and man's strive for power, his deceits and his redemption through love, as depicted in 4 distinct "scenes" is complicated but very roughly, go as follows:
Scene 1: In the depths of the Rhine, 3 mermaids Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flossilde,who are supposed to guard the Rheingold at the bottom of the underwater fortress there, were frolicking until they met Alberich, an ugly but lovesick dwarf (who spent his life mining and forging underground gold) who was attracted by the glimmer of gold but was told that only he who renounced love can get his hand on the the gold they were guarding but that if he did, then he could make a gold ring which would give him power over everyone.h Alberich then diverted the maiden and stole the gold.
Scene 2: Wotan wanted to build a magnificent palace, the Valhalla, with the help of two giants, Fasolt and Fafner, promising them as their reward Freia (sister of his wife Fricka) but when the palace was built, he reneged from his promise. The giants took Freia away by force. Then the god of fire Loge arrived and told Wotan that Alberich now had the ring of Nieberlung and suggested the Wotan could steal it from Alberich and give it to the giants in exchange for relinguishing Freia, a new deal to which the giants reluctantly agreed.
Scene 3. Wotan and Loge then went down to the Niebelung's underground caves where Alberich was forcing the workers there to work day and night for more gold. Alberich's brother, Mime had in the meantime made the Ranhelm, a magical helmet which would enable its wearer to transform himself into any shape he wished. When they met Alberich, they tricked him into transforming himself into a toad by wearing that magical helmet and when he did, they immediately captured him.
Scene 4: Wotan now forces Alberich to get the Niebelungs to deliver up their hoard of gold and snatches the magical ring from his finger but as the ring of Alberich was removed from his finger, he utters a curse upon it, saying that whoever got the ring will see only death and destruction. Wotan and Loge then return to meet the Giants who accept the gold given them by Wotan but when they asked Wotan for the promised ring, Wotan again reneged from his second promise Then Erda appears and urges Wotan to do so. Wotan reluctantly agrees. But once they got the ring, the two Giants begin to fight over it, fulfilling Alberich's curse whilst Wotan and Loge return to Valhalla to the song of lament of the Rhine mermaids lamenting the loss of the Rheingold.
Although the 2.5 hour concert took place without a single break, it was more than worth all the trouble. There's hardly a dull moment. A veritable feast!