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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.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Wagner's great work can appear daunting to the novice: you don't know how to approach it or where to start. This audio book is the perfect answer to your dilemma. I have found it to be an excellent guide and introduction. The mixture of narrative, explanation and musical illustration is very informative and interesting. I feel now that I have the confidence to tackle the entire work.. I would recommend everyone to listen to this first: you will not be disappointed.
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.