These operas were Wagner's biggest epic (this coming from a composer who was known for "big" operas in a time when bigger was better). The overall plot revolves around a ring which, if you are willing to forsake love, will make you all powerful. But the ring is cursed and it keeps passing from one person to the next. There are plots of incest, betrayal and lots and lots of Norse gods and goddesses. To add to the epic feel of this, Wagner used leitmotifs, small melodic lines, which represented various themes throughout all 4 operas (which, BTW, is about 18 hours of music).

The Ring Cycle opera best known is Die Walkurie, probably because of its most famous song "The Flight of the Valkeries" which was also a leitmotif. Alas, now it (and a lot of Wagner's work) is linked to the Nazis. This is unfounded as while no one denies that Wagner was an anti-semite (certainly a strike against him as a person), his music dealt with mystical themes outside of the real world and that idiot, Hitler, unfortunately took a liking to Wagner's music and used it in concentration camps which has scarred a generation of Jews and forever given the Ring Cycle a bad name.