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Alberich was a legendary sorcerer who originated in the mythology or epic sagas of the Frankish Merovingian Dynasty of the 5th to 8th century CE, and whose name means king of the elves (elbe "elves", reix, rex "king"), who possessed the ability to become invisible. He was also known as king of the dwarves.[1]

In the Nibelungenlied, an epic poem in Middle High German, he is a dwarf, who guards the treasure of the Nibelungen, but is overcome by Siegfried.

In Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, Alberich is chief of the Nibelungen race of dwarfs and the main antagonist driving events. Wagner's Alberich is a composite character, mostly based on Alberich from the Nibelungenlied, but also on Andvari from Norse mythology. He has been widely described, most notably by Theodor Adorno, as a negative Jewish stereotype, with his race expressed through "distorted" music and "muttering" speech.[2][3][4]; other critics, however, disagree with this assessment.

Derivative characters

Some scholars propose the following characters evolved in later centuries from the concept of Alberich as king of the elves and dwarves:

  • Oberon is the French translation of Alberich (used for the name of the "King of Fairies" in French and English texts).
  • Elegast/Elbegast/Alegast—elf guest, elf spirit (Dutch, German, and Scandinavian texts, respectively)


  1. Guerber 1895:218 and 295.
  2. Schausten, Monika (2003). ""Only Germany raises real men for the world": Richard Wagner's Ring des Nibelungen, Nation, and the Third Reich". in Kosta, Barbara. Writing against boundaries: nationality, ethnicity and gender in the German-speaking context. Rodopi. pp. 9–27. 
  3. Rose, Paul (1996). Wagner: Race and Revolution. Yale University Press. pp. 69–70. 
  4. Weiner, Mark (1997). Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 135–143. 
  • Bulfinch, Thomas. 1834. Bulfinch's Mythology. Reprinted by New York: Harper & Row, 1970, p. 354–356, 903. ISBN 0-690-57260-3.
  • Guerber, Helene A.. 1895. Myths of Northern Lands - Index. p. 218, p. 295 index. File retrieved 7/15/2007.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Alberich. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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