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August 12 , 2008

Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung: A Short Guide To A Great Opera


This ebook is a compendium of four Short Guides, one for each of the four operas in The Ring, which Wagner staged as a complete cycle in 1876, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.

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Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann - Les Contes d’Hoffmann: A Short Guide To A Great Opera

During the Second Empire of Napoleon and Eugénie, Offenbach’s tiny theatre, Les Bouffes-Parisiens on the Champs Elysées, was one of the sights of Paris. But the purveyor of a hundred frivolous operettas such as Orpheus in the Underworld, La Belle Hélène and La Vie Parisienne, wanted to bequeath one serious opera to posterity. He chose a difficult…

It is equally useful and necessary for those interested in a single opera from The Ring, as it is for those attending or listening to all four.

It has been designed to exploit the unique facility whereby ebooks enable helpful links to be set up between various subjects. Thus the user can selectively and easily ‘dig deeper’ and obtain more information about matters of particular interest.

Nobody knows exactly what The Ring is about. Steen suggests alternatives, and explains from where Wagner derived his ideas. He describes its lengthy gestation, and provides biographical background to King Ludwig, Cosima Wagner, and the composer’s sweetheart Mathilde Wesendonck.

To get the best out of the opera experience, it helps an audience to understand Wagner’s dramatic concept ‘the complete artwork (Gesamtkunstwerk)’, his style of poetry, and use of leitmotives. Musical examples of leitmotives are provided.

Contentious matters are also touched upon, such as the wide-spread dislike of Wagner, and the story underlying the increasing prevalence of contentious productions.

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