As part of the Opera Explained series, Stephen Johnson takes a look at, what he calls, "the biggest and most ambitious work in the history of music": Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung. The epic four part opera which draws upon Nordic and Germanic legend has gained a prestigious status, with dedicated followers eager to sit through the lengthy experience.Johnson discusses the story of gods and men, passion and violence; the history of the piece, with its notorious and oft deliberated connections to Nazi Germany; and the music itself, which transcends any negative context it or its author might have been associated with. Johnson’s measured analysis and thoughtful reflection is interspersed with clips from the opera that will delight any Ring fanatic or opera enthusiast.
Wagner’s Ring cycle is the most ambitious work in the history of music: four operas that combine to tell a single epic story. Based in legend, it has become a legend in its own right: a supreme challenge for conductors, singers, opera producers, and indeed for audiences. But for all its grandeur and complexity, The Ring is far more accessible than many music lovers think.
This audiobook guide explains the basics of the plot, profiles the leading characters, and shows how Wagner’s revolutionary music adds fascinating layers of meaning and psychological insight, as well as providing some of the most stirring and intoxicating moments in the entire operatic repertoire.
©2007 Naxos AudioBooks (P)2007 Naxos AudioBooks
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
In this brief introduction Johnson takes us from the opening e-flat of the Das Rheingold to the consuming flames of Götterdämmerung. Discussions of staging, orchestration, plot development, mythic elements and more are interspersed with musical excerpts.
Wagner designed the tetralogy to begin with the Vorabend, (a "preliminary evening") in which Das Rheingold is perfomed, followed by the succession of the operas Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. Johnson makes an admirable presentation of each part of the cycle without excessive digression.
Of course, countless volumes have been devoted to the discussion of meaning, leitmotif, scoring, and all things Wagnerian, should one want to look deeper. But for a brief discussion of Ring essentials, look no further.
These operas share a somewhat daunting reputation. Even opera fans have been known to quaver before Valhalla! But don't be one of them. Listen to this book, then jump right in. Some of the most beautiful music ever written awaits you.
"Clearing Up The Legend"
A well read and well presented piece that not only covers the stories of the four operas, but gives useful insights into the structure of the music, the recurring musical themes and the innovations that Wagner introduced. I listened to this in conjunction with a DVD set of the complete cycle and it increased my understanding and enjoyment of the works greatly.
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