First performed as a cycle of four operas in 1876, Wagner's visionary Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is one of the greatest works of art. Centred around a ring which offers its bearer ultimate power and the attempts of various people to acquire it, the Ring cycle explores the relationship between love and earthly power and the themes of yearning and loss, all within a setting of medieval legend. The Prologue Das Rheingold depicts the theft and subsequent surrender of the ring forged from the Rhine maidens' gold by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich.
Amsterdam-born Jaap van Zweden has been Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra since 2012, and is also Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of the Radio Chamber Philharmonic. Prestigious orchestras with which he has worked include the Chicago and London Symphony Orchestras, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, and the New York and London Philharmonic Orchestras. He made highly acclaimed débuts with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Jaap van Zweden's recording activities have included the complete Beethoven (Residentie Orchester), Brahms (Netherlands Philharmonic) and Bruckner (Netherlands Radio Philharmonic) symphonies, and his Wagner repertoire in addition to the Ring cycle features Lohengrin, Parsifal and Tristan und Isolde, and includes staged performances of Lohengrin at the Vienna State Opera.