Der Ring Des Nibelungen

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9780714836508: Der Ring Des Nibelungen

Richard Wagner's vast Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle comprises four full-length operas (Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung) and is arguably the most extraordinary achievement in the history of opera. His own libretto to the operas is an intricate system of metric patterns, imaginative metaphors and alliteration, combining to produce the music in text.

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Review:

The operatic world is full of guides to the psyche and music (not to mention the politics) of Richard Wagner. Can there possibly be an excuse for publishing another one? Indeed there is, when the insights are as fresh (or as well documented) and thoughtfully assembled as in this new companion to the Ring. Der Ring des Nibelungen: A Companion offers obscure details to lure even the most avid Wagnerite, but is brief and accessible enough to be of use to Wagnerian newcomers as well. Rudolph Sabor's survey of Wagner's life is necessarily brief, but still full of interesting details and insights, while his examination of the sources drawn on by the composer-librettist is extremely helpful. Wagner, who was fond of promoting an image of himself as a Jovian creator--in his mythos, his work supposedly sprang from his head full-blown with no preparation needed, like Athena from the pate of Jupiter--was actually a very careful researcher who used every bit of background he could find in his librettos. Interesting parallels are drawn to other works by Wagner, and there is a short but helpful explanation of what leitmotifs are and how they're used. Der Ring des Nibelungen: A Companion also looks at a number of important productions of the Ring, from the leafy and naturalistic to attempts to force-fit a Marxist interpretation on the mythic work; lists resources for further research; and includes a well-done bibliography and discography with the author's comments on each recording.

About the Author:

Rudolph Sabor is a writer and lecturer whose books include The Real Wagner. He frequently gives lectures on Wagner and reviews the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth for the major broadsheets and music periodicals.

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