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Opera Explained: WAGNER, R. - The Ring of the Nibelung (Johnson)

Composer(s):Johnson, StephenWagner, Richard
Artist(s) Johnson, Stephen, reader
Period(s) Romantic
Genre Spoken Word
Category Music Education
Catalogue 8.558184-85
Label Naxos Educational
Quality   320kbps

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.


Review By James McCarthy,Limelight Magazine,April 2008

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



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