Alberich the dwarf...


Arthur Rackham (1867–1939): 'Alberich, Lord over the Nibelungs'
Illustration to Richard Wagner's 'Das Rheingold', 1910

In the Middle High German 'Nibelungenlied', Alberich is a dwarf
who guards the treasure of the Nibelungen, but is overcome by Siegfried
News of the gold robbery and ring of power incited gods and giants alike to action. 
The giants Fafner and Fasolt demanded the ring in payment for building Valhalla
and carried off Freyja as a hostage. In the border, the gods, Odin, Frigg,  
Loki, Freyr, and Thor all search despairingly for the hidden treasure


The Rhine-maidens and Alberich 

Alberich was the most hideous of all the black, ugly little Nibelungs.
The Nibelungs had cross, scowling faces, because they were always 
scolding each other. They quarreled from morning till night, so, of course, 
their faces grew to look quarrelsome and ugly. As Alberich hurried after the 
Rhine-daughters, he suddenly caught sight of the gold glittering in the morning sun.
He stood still. Then he straightened up as tall as his crooked, misshapen little back 
would let him. He opened his eyes wide. 'Oh! Sisters! See how Alberich is staring at 
our gold!' whispered one of the Rhine-daughters. 'Perhaps this is the foe of which our 
father warned us. How careless we have been!''Nonsense', answered one. 'Who 
would fear this little black fellow? He will do us no harm. Let him gaze upon 
the gold'. The maidens joined hands and circled about the gold, singing:

'Hail to thee! Hail to thee!
Treasure most bright!
Rhine-gold! Rhine-gold!
Beautiful sight!

"Hail to thee! Hail to thee!
Out of the night!
Rhine-gold! Rhine-gold!
Wakened so bright!'

'Opera Stories from Wagner', by Florence Akin, 1915


 Alberich  teasing the Rhine-maidens pursued 
by Arthur Rackham (1867–1939)


The dwarf Alberich steals the Rhinegold watched over by the Rhine-maidens
by Arthur Rackham (1867–1939)


 Rhine-maidens pursued by Alberich 
by Arthur Rackham (1867–1939)


'Swear to me, Hagen, my son!
by Arthur Rackham, 1911

In Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, Alberich is chief of 
the Nibelungen race of dwarfs and the main antagonist driving events. He gains 
the power to forge the ring after renouncing love. His brother, the Smith Mime, 
creates the Tarnhelm for Alberich. The murderer of the hero Siegfried,  
Hagen (legend), is son of Alberich.


Photo taken in 1896 of the great American baritone David Bispham,
 in costume as the dwarf Alberich




 'Alberich the Dwarf",

 Two 1898 Maxfield Parrish 'The Ring of the Niebelung' illustrations 
from Scribner's Magazine. Purchase them here


Rheingold

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