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Testimony, Tutorial and Toolbox for
"The Ring of the Nibelung" Neophytes

Purebred Wagnerites are politely advised not to read the infectious non-orthodox lines that follow.

Testimony

As an occasional classical music listener I assumed that this music was overcomplicated, pretentious, noisy, perverse and nazi.

"Opera of Richard Wagner Nazi sung in German! Shocking!"

Well, after happily living through 50 years of my life without ever listening to the "Ring of the Nibelung" by German composer Richard Wagner I got infected by it and now I go on spreading this infection worldwide.

About 10 years ago I met professor Bruno Lussato of Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers of Paris, a man of incredible erudition and very fine musician. While talking to him I squeezed in a clever quote from Mark Twain:

"Wagner's music is so much better than it sounds!"

I was immediately caught red-handed as someone pretentious who had never heard the music, but had a learned opinion. I was laughed at, told not to show off and sent back to school.

Late professor Lussato kindly lent me his film "In the Eye of the Ring" and suggested that I should make further critical noises only after having carefully viewed and listened to "The Ring of the Nibelung".

I viewed the film, understood the extremely intricate plot, got interested, put my headphones on, opened the German libretto and ...sat patiently for 3 hours listening to "The Rheingold" directed by Herbert von Karajan and reading the lines of Richard Wagner's poetry. That is how I got the "Ring virus".

The rest of my immunity collapsed after viewing film-opera "The Ring of the Nibelung" by Chéreau.

 

The"RING" is human nature put on music

"The Ring of the Nibelung" is a cycle of four non-traditional operas: "Das Rheingold" (The Rhine Gold), "Die Walküre" (The Valkyrie), "Siegfried" & "Die Götterdämmerung" (Twilight of the gods), with a total playing time of 15 hours. "The Ring of the Nibelung" is the first myth of the industrial age.

It is not an Opera, It is a prophecy

Tutorial :

There are many "Rings" available on CD. My favourite is "The Ring" conducted by Herbert von Karajan. They say that Karajan died hated by his musicians. "I'd rather scrub floors than work with that man again!" exclaimed Josephine Veasey (Fricka) after a recording session. When you listen to his "Ring" you'll hear and understand why! He squeezed heavenly sounds from simple human beings with sweat and tears as by-product. This unique performance is an extemporal meeting of the greatest composer and the greatest conductor of all times.

There are many videos of "The Ring", but my choice is "The Ring" by stage-director Patrice Chéreau. This one is the closest to Richard Wagner's original stage directions. In fact, after 125 years of performance Wagner's stage directions have not been realized in full. Technically impossible! Try singing underwater or ride flying horses! Will computer-imaging help?

Did you know that :

Much injustice was done unto the great Richard Wagner. His own wife, who modified his biography, misappropriated him posthumously. He was nationalized by the German state, which turned Wagner into grey concrete monument. The Nazis, who used his music to accompany Arian Nordic fireworks, reprocessed him. He was privatised by most composers of the XX century who prospected his enormous heritage as a quarry of melodies (leitmotivs). Most stage directors have experimented, disfigured and even fooled around with "The Ring of the Nibelung". They are gone, while Wagner remains!

Toolbox :

"In the Eye of the Ring", libretto, Headphones, CD player, CD set by Karajan, DVD player, DVD set by Chéreau. You do not need high-end expensive hi-fi to start your personal discovery of "The Ring" - a CD player is good enough. Find time to listen to the music and read libretto carefully a couple of times. Do it in one opera per day in 4-6 days timeframe and you are converted for good.

Infected and ready to make another step? Looking to buy introduction VHS, "Ring" on DVD etc..? Very good, but before damaging your family budget any further preview before buying. The only place in the universe where you can do it is on this very site! Richard Wagner bless you!