An angry dwarf, spurned by three flirty sisters, steals their treasure and gives up love forever in order to create an all-powerful piece of jewelry—the Ring of the Nibelung. Richard Wagner’s four-opera masterpiece, known as The Ring Cycle, lasts 15 hours altogether and includes theft and slaughter, an incest baby, a magic potion, and a combination murder/arson/suttee. For those besotted by this odd tale—and they are legion—2009 will be a joyous year, with must-see performances taking place around the globe. New York’s Metropolitan Opera (www.metopera.com) is giving its 20-?year-old production a final run in the spring, while Washington National Opera (www.washingtonnationalopera.org) will bring the cycle to the nation’s capital in November for the first time. Additionally, Los Angeles Opera (www.losangelesopera.com) is premiering the third and fourth operas late in the year, with an eye toward performing the whole cycle in the summer of 2010—a first both for the company and for director Achim Freyer. Across the Pacific, the New National Theatre, Tokyo (www.nntt.jac.go.jp) is staging all four of the works individually. Finally, there is always the annual Bayreuth Festival, on the composer’s home turf in Germany—if you can find tickets: The wait to get into this definitive interpretation is reportedly nine years long.