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ClassicsOnline Home » Opera Explained: WAGNER, R. - The Ring of the Nibelung (Johnson)
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 two-CD 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.
By James McCarthy
As far as I can ascertain, this is the first analysis of The Ring on Cd since Deryck Cooke’s groundbreaking recording in 1969. It is splendid…Stephen Johnson, noted broadcaster and critic, takes a more generalist approach. In this he has made a very user-friendly essay that will not only be of considerable use for Wagnerites, but also be a ready tool for generating interest and love for the great work amongst those who know little or nothing about it. I particularly like the way Johnson cuts to the essentials of the story, explaining the key elements and using appropriate musical examples as he goes. …He also has a splendid and engaging speaking voice; one that has all the hallmarks of a storyteller. He does not resile from the controversy over Wagner’s anti-Semitism, nor how it was used by the Nazi’s to support their odious propaganda. However, he does explain this misuse, whilst not giving Wagner any racialist Brownie points along the way. …This double CD will make a brilliant gift for music and opera lovers and especially younger people.
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Opera Explained: WAGNER, R. - The Ring of the Nibe...