Der Ring des NibelungenOperas by Richard Wagner
Die Hochzeit (1832)
Die Feen (1833)
Das Liebesverbot (1836)
Der fliegende Holländer (1843)
Tristan und Isolde (1859)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1867)
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Das Rheingold (1869)
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Die Walkure (1870)
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Siegfried (1871)
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Götterdämmerung (1874)
Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is a cycle of four epic music dramas by the German composer Richard Wagner. The operas are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied. The works are often referred to as "The Ring Cycle", "Wagner's Ring", or simply "The Ring".
Wagner wrote the libretto and music over the course of about twenty-six years, from 1848 to 1874. The four operas that constitute the Ring cycle are, in the order of the imagined events they portray:
- Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold)
- Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
- Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)
Although individual operas are performed as works in their own right, a full understanding of the story of the Ring cycle requires attendance at all four operas, which was the intention and expectation of the composer.
- 1 The title
- 2 Content
- 3 History of the Ring cycle
- 4 Performances
- 5 Recordings of the complete Ring Cycle
- 6 The Ring in popular culture
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Wagner's title is rendered in English as The Ring of the Nibelung. However the word Nibelung frequently confuses English speakers, resulting in misunderstanding of the German title, the English title, or how to use the word outside the title. The word Nibelung is in the singular. The Nibelung of the title is the dwarf Alberich, and the Ring in question is the one he fashions from the Rhinegold. The title therefore means "Alberich's Ring".
The cycle is a work of extraordinary scale. Perhaps the most outstanding facet of the monumental work is its sheer length: a full performance of the cycle takes place over four nights at the opera, with a total playing time of about 15 hours, depending on the conductor's pacing. The first and shortest opera, Das Rheingold, typically lasts two and a half hours, while the final and longest, Götterdämmerung, can take up to five hours in performance.
The cycle is modelled after ancient Greek dramas that were presented as three tragedies and one satyr play. The Ring properly begins with Die Walküre and ends with Götterdämmerung, with Rheingold as a prelude. Wagner called Das Rheingold a Vorabend or "Preliminary Evening", and Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung were subtitled First Day, Second Day and Third Day, respectively, of the trilogy proper.
The scale and scope of the story is epic. It follows the struggles of gods, heroes, and several mythical creatures, over the eponymous magic Ring that grants domination over the entire world. The drama and intrigue continue through three generations of protagonists, until the final cataclysm at the end of Götterdämmerung.
The music of the cycle is thick and richly textured, and grows in complexity as the cycle proceeds. Wagner wrote for an orchestra of gargantuan proportions, including a greatly enlarged brass section with new instruments such as the Wagner tuba, bass trumpet and contrabass trombone. He eventually had a purpose-built theatre (the Bayreuth Festspielhaus) constructed in Bayreuth in which to perform this work. The theatre had a special stage which blended the huge orchestra with the singers' voices, allowing them to sing at a natural volume. The result was that the singers did not have to strain themselves vocally during the long performances. The acoustics of this performance space are among the best in the world.
StoryValkyrie from 1971 by Russian artist Konstantin Vasiliev
The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold stolen from the river Rhine. Several mythic figures struggle for possession of the Ring, including Wotan (Odin), the chief of the Gods. Wotan's scheme, spanning generations, to overcome his limitations, drives much of the action in the story. The hero Siegfried wins the Ring, as Wotan intended, but is eventually betrayed and slain. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, Siegfried's lover and Wotan's estranged daughter, returns the Ring to the Rhine. In the process, the Gods are destroyed.
For a detailed plot synopsis, see the articles for the individual operas.
Wagner created the story of the Ring by fusing elements from many German and Scandinavian myths and folk tales. The Old Norse Eddas supplied much of the material for Das Rheingold, while Die Walküre was largely based on the Volsunga saga. Siegfried contains elements from the Eddas, the Volsunga Saga and Thidreks saga. The final opera, Götterdämmerung, draws from the 12th century High German poem known as the Nibelungenlied, which appears to have been the original inspiration for the Ring, and for which the cycle was named. (For a detailed examination of Wagner's sources for the Ring, and his treatment of them, see among other works Deryck Cooke's unfinished study of the Ring, I Saw the World End, and Ernest Newman's Wagner Nights. Also useful is a translation by Stewart Spencer (Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung: Companion, edited by Barry Millington) which, as well as containing essays—including one on the source material—provides an English translation of the entire text which seeks to remain faithful to the early medieval Stabreim technique Wagner used).
In weaving these disparate sources into a coherent tale, Wagner injected many contemporary concepts. One of the principal themes in the Ring is the struggle of love, which is also associated with Nature and freedom, against power, which is associated with civilization and law. In the very first scene of the Ring, the scorned dwarf Alberich sets the plot in motion by renouncing love, an act that allows him to acquire the power to rule the world by means of forging a magical ring. In the last scene of that opera this ring of power is taken from him, so he places a curse on it: “Whosoever holds the ring, by the ring they shall be enslaved.”
Since its inception, the Ring has been subjected to a plethora of interpretations. George Bernard Shaw, in The Perfect Wagnerite, argues for a view of the Ring as an essentially socialist critique of industrial society and its abuses. Robert Donington in Wagner's Ring and its Symbols interprets it in terms of Jungian psychology as an account of the development of unconscious archetypes in the mind, leading towards individuation. Peter Kjærulff, in The Ringbearer's Diary, interprets the Ring as an attempt to expose a structure of ideas he refers to as The Cursed Ring, which he also links to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Plato's The Ring of Gyges.
In his previous operas, Wagner had tried to make minimal use of recitative and scena ed aria. For the Ring he decided to do away with them entirely and adopted a through-composed style, whereby each act of each opera would be a continuous piece of music with no breaks whatsoever. In the essay Opera and Drama, (1852) Wagner describes the way in which poetry, music and the visual arts should combine to form what he called The Artwork of the Future. He called these artworks "music-dramas", and thereafter very rarely referred to his works as operas.
As a new foundation for his music-dramas, Wagner adopted the use of what he called Grundthemen, or "base themes", although they are usually referred to elsewhere as leitmotifs. These are recurring melodies and/or harmonic progressions, sometimes tied to a particular key and often to a particular orchestration. They musically denote an action, object, emotion, character or other subject mentioned in the text and/or presented onstage. Wagner referred to them in Opera and Drama as "guides-to-feeling", and described how they could be used to inform the listener of a musical or dramatic subtext to the action onstage in the same way as a Greek Chorus did for Attic Drama. While other composers before Wagner had already used leitmotifs, the Ring was unique in the extent to which they were employed, and in the ingeniousness of their combination and development.
Any important subject in The Ring is usually accompanied by a leitmotif; indeed, there are long stretches of music which are constructed exclusively from them. One such example occurs in Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's journey down the river Rhine is described first through a rhapsody on the Siegfried theme which then merges into the Rhine theme and finally into the motifs denoting the Gibichung Hall. There are dozens of individual motifs scattered throughout the Ring. They often occur as a musical reference to a presentation of their subject onstage, or to a direct reference in the text, or more subtly implied by the text. Many of them appear in several operas, and some even in all four. Sometimes, as in the character of the Woodbird, a cluster of motives is associated with a single character.
As the cycle progresses, and especially from the third act of Siegfried on, these motives are presented in increasingly sophisticated combinations. Wagner also used Franz Liszt's technique of "metamorphosis of themes" to effect a dynamic development of many leitmotifs into quite different ones with a life all of their own. A clear example occurs in the transition from the first to the second scene of Das Rheingold, in which the musical theme associated with the ring of power, newly forged, transforms into that of Valhalla, Wotan's just-completed fortress, intended as a base from which he as chief of the gods can impose his law on the world, embodied by his spear. Thus an implication is made which is left unstated in the libretto; but regardless of how a listener might make the implied connection by associating the "ring" motive with Valhalla (which will be destroyed along with the ring), the burden of the argument at this point is entirely musical. The most important result of this kind of technique is the setting up of an infinitely complex web of musico-conceptual associations which continues to provide material for discussion.
Aspects of the leitmotif system did attract criticism for being too obvious. Some have misunderstood the function of leitmotives, imagining them to be mere 'calling cards' whose function is tautological – simply informing the listener as to which character, object or idea has just arrived on stage or been mentioned; but this is no more what leitmotives are for than, for example, Debussy wrote "La Mer" to describe the sea to people who hadn't seen it for themselves. In particular, the leitmotivic profile of the cycle's end has attracted much criticism. George Bernard Shaw dismissed the final bars of the Ring (the so-called "Redemption through love" motif), saying "the gushing effect which is its sole valuable quality is so cheaply attained that it is hardly going too far to call it the most trumpery phrase in the entire tetralogy". Other critics, such as Theodor Adorno in his essay In Search of Wagner, have speculated that Wagner did not actually know how to end the cycle, and merely spun together a few obvious motives which were chosen simply because they were the most beautiful sounding. More veneratively Mark Doran has sought to explain the cycle's final bars as the 'all-knowing orchestra's "purely musical praise of Brünnhilde".
The advances in orchestration and tonality Wagner made in this work are of seminal importance in the history of Western music. He wrote for a very large orchestra, with a palette of seventeen different instrumental families used singly or in a myriad of combinations to express the great range of emotion and events of the drama. Wagner even went so far as to commission the production of new instruments, including the Wagner tuba, invented to fill a gap he found between the tone qualities of the French horn and the trombone, as well as variations of existing instruments, such as the bass trumpet and a contrabass trombone with a double slide.
In addition Wagner weakened traditional tonality to the extent that most of the Ring, especially from Siegfried Act III onwards, cannot be said to be in traditionally defined "keys", but rather in "key regions", each of which flow smoothly into the following one. This fluidity avoided the musical equivalent of "full stops" or "periods", and was an important part of the style that enabled Wagner to build the work's huge structures - Das Rheingold is unbroken at two-and-a-half hours long. Tonal indeterminacy was heightened by the vastly increased freedom with which he used dissonance and chromaticism. Chromatically altered chords, as well as a varitey of sevenths and ninths are used very liberally in the Ring, and this work, together with Tristan und Isolde, is frequently cited as a milestone on the way to Arnold Schoenberg's revolutionary break with the traditional concept of key and his rejection of consonance as the basis of an organising principle in music.
List of characters
- The Gods
- Wotan, King of the Gods (God of light, air, and wind) (bass-baritone)
- Fricka, Wotan's consort, goddess of marriage (mezzo-soprano)
- Freia, Fricka's sister, goddess of love/youth (soprano)
- Donner, Fricka's brother, god of thunder (baritone)
- Froh, Fricka's brother, god of spring/happiness (tenor)
- Erda, goddess of wisdom/Earth (contralto)
- Loge, demigod of fire (tenor in Das Rheingold, represented musically elsewhere)
- The Norns, the weavers of fate, daughters of Erda (contralto, mezzo-soprano, soprano)
- The Wälsungs, offspring of Wotan (disguised as Wälse) and a mortal woman
- The Valkyries, warrior-maidens, daughters of Wotan
- Brünnhilde (soprano)
- Waltraute (mezzo-soprano)
- Helmwige (soprano)
- Gerhilde (soprano)
- Siegrune (mezzo-soprano)
- Schwertleite (mezzo-soprano)
- Ortlinde (soprano)
- Grimgerde (mezzo-soprano)
- Rossweisse (mezzo-soprano)
- The Rhinemaidens
- The Voice of a Woodbird (soprano)
Wagner scored the Ring for an exceptionally large orchestra, but was very specific about how many instruments should play each part.
The woodwinds include 3 flutes and 1 piccolo, 3 oboes and 1 cor anglais, 3 clarinets and 1 bass clarinet, and 3 bassoons (with a note that contrabassoon(s) should be used if the bassoons used are unable to play the low An occasionally required).
The brass section contains 8 horns, the last four players doubling on 2 B flat tenor and 2 F bass Wagner tubas, 3 trumpets and 1 bass trumpet as well as 3 tenorbass trombones, 1 contrabass trombone (doubling on bass trombone) and 1 contrabass tuba.
The percussion section contains 2 pairs of timpani, a triangle, a pair of cymbals, a side drum and a carillon or glockenspiel. In Das Rheingold, the orchestra is completed with 6 harps plus one offstage harp. In several sections of the cycle, Wagner also calls for a thunder machine, 18 anvils, offstage horns and several stierhorns (4 in Götterdämmerung and 1 in Die Walküre).
To facilitate performance of the work in theatres lacking large orchestra pits, reduced orchestrations are also available.
History of the Ring cycle
Composition of the text
- Main article: Der Ring des Nibelungen: Composition of the text
In summer 1848 Wagner wrote The Nibelung Myth as Sketch for a Drama, combining the medieval sources previously mentioned into a single narrative, very similar to the plot of the eventual Ring cycle, but nevertheless with substantial differences. Later that year he began writing a libretto entitled Siegfrieds Tod ("Siegfried's Death"). He was likely encouraged by a series of articles in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, inviting composers to write a "national opera" based on the Nibelungenlied, a 12th century High German poem which, since its rediscovery in 1755, had been hailed by the German Romantics as the "German national epic". Siegfrieds Tod dealt with the death of Siegfried, the central heroic figure of the Nibelungenlied.
By 1850, Wagner had completed a musical sketch (which he abandoned) for Siegfrieds Tod. He now felt that he needed a preliminary opera, Der junge Siegfried ("The Young Siegfried", later renamed to "Siegfried"), in order to explain the events in Siegfrieds Tod. The verse draft of Der junge Siegfried was completed in May 1851. By October, he had made the momentous decision to embark on a cycle of four operas, to be played over four nights: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Der Junge Siegfried and Siegfrieds Tod.
The text for all four operas was completed in December 1852, and privately published in February 1853.
Composition of the music
- Main article: Der Ring des Nibelungen: Composition of the music
In November 1853, Wagner began the composition draft of Das Rheingold. Unlike the verses, which were written as it were in reverse order, the music would be composed in the same order as the narrative. Composition proceeded until 1857, when the final score up to the end of Act II of Siegfried was completed. Wagner then laid the work aside for twelve years, during which he wrote Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
By 1869, Wagner was living at Tribschen on Lake Lucerne, sponsored by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. He returned to Siegfried, and, remarkably, was able to pick up where he left off. In October, he completed the final opera in the cycle. He chose the title Götterdämmerung instead of Siegfried's Tod for this opera. In the completed work the gods are destroyed in accordance with the new pessimistic thrust of the cycle, not redeemed as in the more optimistic originally planned ending. Wagner also decided to show onstage the events of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, which had hitherto only been presented as back-narration in the other two operas. These changes resulted in some discrepancies in the cycle, but these do not diminish the value of the work.
On King Ludwig's insistence, and over Wagner's objections, "special previews" of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre were given at the National Theatre in Munich, before the rest of the Ring. Thus, Das Rheingold premiered on September 22, 1869, and Die Walküre on June 26, 1870. Wagner subsequently delayed announcing his completion of Siegfried in order to prevent this opera, too, being premiered against his wishes.
Wagner had long desired to have a special festival opera house, designed by himself, for the performance of the Ring. In 1871, he decided on a location in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth. In 1872, he moved to Bayreuth, and the foundation stone was laid. Wagner would spend the next two years attempting to raise capital for the construction, with scant success; King Ludwig finally rescued the project in 1874 by donating the needed funds. The Bayreuth Festspielhaus opened in 1876 with the first complete performance of the Ring, which took place from August 13 to August 17.
Notable contemporary productions
The complete cycle is performed most years at the Bayreuth Festival: the first staging of a new production becomes a society event attended by many important and popular people like politicians, actors, musicians and sportsmen. Tickets are hard to get and are often reserved years in advance.
The Ring is a major undertaking for any opera company: staging four interlinked operas requires a huge commitment both artistically and financially. In most opera houses, production of a new Ring cycle will happen over a number of years, with one or two operas in the cycle being added each year. Bayreuth is unusual in that a new cycle is almost always created within a single year. The Ring cycle has been staged by opera companies in many different ways. Early productions often stayed close to Wagner's original Bayreuth staging. Trends set at Bayreuth have continued to be influential. Following the closure of the Festspielhaus during the Second World War, the 1950s saw productions by Wagner's grandsons Wieland and Wolfgang Wagner (known as the 'New Bayreuth' style) which emphasised the human aspects of the drama in a more abstract setting. Perhaps the most famous modern production was the centennial production of 1976 directed by Patrice Chéreau and conducted by Pierre Boulez. Set in the industrial revolution, it replaced the depths of the Rhine with a hydroelectric power dam and featured grimy sets populated by men and gods in business suits. This drew heavily on the reading of the Ring as a revolutionary drama and critique of the modern world, famously described by George Bernard Shaw in 'The Perfect Wagnerite'. Early performances were booed but the audience of 1980 gave it a 90 minute ovation in its final year; the production is now generally regarded as revolutionary and a classic. Ring productions tend to fall into two camps: those which try to remain fairly close to Wagner's original stage design and direction, and those which seek to re-interpret the Ring for modern audiences, often inserting stage pictures and action which Wagner himself might not recognise. The production by Peter Hall, conducted by Georg Solti at Bayreuth in 1983 is an example of the former, while the production by Richard Jones at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1994–1996, conducted by Bernard Haitink, is an example of the latter.
Another interesting complete Ring cycle was begun in 2004, performed by the English National Opera at the Coliseum Theatre near London's Trafalgar Square. The production is notable for its use of contemporary minimalist sets and costumes. Many of the scenes look like rooms from Ikea and indeed the production is sponsored by the MFI furniture company.
Certain opera companies, such as the Seattle Opera, produce entirely new Ring cycles every 4 to 6 years. Seattle Opera's next cycle will be performed in August 2009.
The Canadian Opera Company conducted its first complete Ring Cycle in 2006 upon the opening of the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. This production is notable for the stage direction by Canadian film directors Atom Egoyan and François Girard.
The Royal Danish Opera performed a complete Ring cycle in May 2006 in its new waterfront home, the Copenhagen Opera House. This version of the ring tells the story from the viewpoint of Brunhilde and has a distinct feminist angle. For example, in a key scene in Die Walkure, it is Sieglinde and not Siegmund who manages to pull the sword Notung out of a tree. At the end of the cycle, Brunhilde does not die, but instead gives birth to Siegfried's child.
It is possible to perform The Ring with fewer resources than usual. In 1990, the City of Birmingham Touring Opera (now Birmingham Opera Company), presented a two-evening adaptation (by Jonathan Dove) for a limited number of solo singers, each doubling several roles, and 18 orchestral players. This version made its American premiere at the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Subsequently, it was performed in full at Long Beach Opera in January 2006, and was performed in full with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh in July 2006.
Recordings of the complete Ring Cycle
The complete Ring Cycle has been performed many times, but relatively few full commercial recordings exist, probably due to financial considerations. The four operas together take about 15 hours, which makes for several records, tapes, or CDs, and a lot of studio time. For this reason, many full Ring recordings are the result of "unofficial" recording of live performances, particularly from Bayreuth where new productions are often broadcast by German radio. Live recordings, especially those in monaural, may have very variable sound but often preserve the excitement of a performance better than a studio recording.
Here are some of the best-known and most appreciated recordings of the complete Ring Cycle:
- Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting the La Scala Opera Orchestra, 1950. Recorded live, mono sound. [Music & Arts]
- Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting the Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro della Radio Italiana (RAI orchestra and chorus), 1953. Recorded live, mono sound. [EMI]
- Clemens Krauss conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1953. Recorded live, mono sound. [Gala, Archipel]
- Joseph Keilberth conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1955. Recorded live, stereo sound. [Testament]
- Joseph Keilberth conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1952 and 1953. Recorded live, mono sound. Various labels.
- Hans Knappertsbusch conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1956. Recorded live, mono sound. [Music & Arts]
- Hans Knappertsbusch conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1957. Recorded live, mono sound. [Music & Arts]
- Hans Knappertsbusch conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1958. Recorded live, mono sound. [Melodram]
- Georg Solti conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, 1958–1965. Recorded in the studio, stereo sound. [Decca/Polygram records]/
- Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, 1966–1970. Recorded in the studio, stereo sound. [Deutsche Grammophon/Polygram]
- Karl Böhm conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1967. Recorded live in stereo. [Philips]
- Hans Swarowsky conducting the Großes Symphonieorchester, 1968. Recorded in the studio in stereo (Remastered in 1995). [Weltbild Verlag]
- Reginald Goodall conducting the English National Opera Orchestra, 1975. Recorded live in stereo. Sung in English, using Andrew Porter's translation. [Chandos]
- Pierre Boulez conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1980–1981. Recorded live in stereo. [Philips]
- Marek Janowski conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden, 1980–1983. Recorded in the studio in stereo. [Eurodisc/BMG]
- James Levine conducting the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, 1987–1989. Recorded in the studio in stereo. [Deutsche Grammophon]
- Bernard Haitink conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1988-1991. Recorded in the studio in stereo. [EMI Classics]
- Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting the Bayerische Staatsoper, 1989. Recorded live in stereo. [EMI Classics]
- Daniel Barenboim conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1991-1992. Recorded live in stereo. [Warner Classics]
- Günter Neuhold conducting the Badische Staatskapelle, 1993–1995. Recorded live at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe in stereo. [Bella Musica, Documents]
- Asher Fisch conducting the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, 2006-2007. Recorded live in multichannel at The State Opera of South Australia. Hybrid SACD. [Melba Recordings]
- Hartmut Haenchen conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, 2005. Recorded live in multichannel at the Musiektheater Amsterdam, released on Hybrid SACD. [Et'Cetera 2007]
The Solti recording was the first stereo studio recording of the complete cycle, and it remains popular. In a poll on the BBC Radio 3's long running radio programme CD Review, this set was voted as the greatest recording of the 20th century. Although Solti's was the first studio stereo recording, the cycle had previously been recorded live in stereo by Decca engineers at the Bayreuth Festival in 1955 under the baton of Joseph Keilberth. Although unavailable for over 50 years, this cycle has now been issued on CD and vinyl by Testament.
First-time buyers looking for a Ring recording are often recommended the Solti. Gramophone, for example, list it as their recommendation on their website. However, when their long-time Wagner critic Alan Blyth reviewed recordings of the Ring for the feature Building a Library on CD Review (then Stereo Review) in 1986, he favoured the Böhm and Furtwängler/RAI recordings. When John Deathridge carried out a follow-up review for the programme in 1992, he favoured parts of the Goodall, Haitink and Boulez cycles for individual operas and Levine overall.
The Ring cycle is also available in a number of video or DVD presentations. These include:
- Pierre Boulez conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1980–1981. [Philips/Deutsche Grammophon]
- James Levine conducting the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, 1990. [Deutsche Grammophon 073 043-9]
- Daniel Barenboim conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1991–1992 [Warner Classics]
- Bertrand de Billy conducting the Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, 2006 [BBC Opus Arte]
- Hartmut Heanchen conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, 2006 [Opus Arte]
The first three of these are also available as audio recordings.
The Ring in popular culture
Der Ring des Nibelungen, because of its size and seriousness, lends itself well to parody. One well-known parody is Looney Tunes' What's Opera, Doc? in which Bugs Bunny plays Brünnhilde and Elmer Fudd plays Siegfried. (A lesser known 1945 Looney Tunes cartoon, Herr meets Hare, which was never re-released after the war, stars an unlikely pairing of Hermann Goering playing Siegfried and Bugs playing, again, Brünnhilde, in an almost identical sequence as What's Opera, Doc?, including Bugs on an absurdly fat horse.)
Anna Russell's The Ring of the Nibelungs (An Analysis) is not really a parody, since it follows Wagner's story and actually discusses many of the Ring's leitmotifs as academically as she makes them entertaining. However, Russell draws attention to some of the more unusual elements in the plot that people often miss, to the delight of her audience.
Anthony Burgess's version of the Ring Cycle is the 1961 novel The Worm and the Ring, which transposes the action to an Oxfordshire grammar school. The comic fantasist Tom Holt similarly chooses to set Expecting Someone Taller, his sequel to the Ring, in a rural English setting.
J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings appears to borrow some elements from Der Ring des Nibelungen; however, Tolkien himself denied that he had been inspired by Wagner's work, saying that "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases." Any similarity arises because Tolkien and Wagner both drew upon the same source material for inspiration, including the Völsunga saga and the Poetic Edda.
- ^ Magee, Bryan (2001). The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy. Clearwater, Fla: Metropolitan Books, page 109. ISBN 0-8050-7189-X.
- ^ Richard Wagner, Translated by William Ashton Ellis (1852). Opera and Drama, By Richard Wagner - Translated by William Ashton Ellis. The Wagner Library. Retrieved on 2007-10-28.
- ^ Mark Doran, Wagner and the 'Paradise Garden': An Inter-Operatic Reference in Delius, Tempo 216, 24-29. Apr., 2001.
- ^ John Weinstock, Professor (2007). The Wagner Experience - Immortals Family Tree. Characters and Relationships. The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved on 2007-10-28.
- ^ Christopher Fifield. Ibbs and Tillett: The Rise and Fall of a Musical Empire (Chapter 3, pp. 25-26). London: Ashgate Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1-84014-290-1, ISBN 978-1840142907.
- ^ BBC Radio (2004). The Greatest Recordings as Voted by CD Review Listeners. BBC. Retrieved on 2007-10-28.
- ^ Gramophone (2007). Recommended Recordings. Gramophone. Retrieved on 2007-12-22.
- ^ BBC (2007). CD Review's Building a Library. BBC. Retrieved on 2007-12-22.
- ^ Carpenter, Humphrey and Tolkien, Christopher (eds.) (1981). The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, #229. ISBN 0-395-31555-7.
- Cooke, Derek, I Saw the World End: A Study of Wagner's Ring. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
- Di Gaetani, John Louis, Penetrating Wagner's Ring: An Anthology. New York: Da Capo Press, 1978. ISBN 978-0306804373 (Reviews)
- Gregor-Dellin, Martin, (1983) Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century. Harcourt, ISBN 0-15-177151-0
- Holman, J.K. Wagner's Ring: A Listener's Companion and Concordance. Portland OR: Amadeus Press, 2001.
- Lee, M. Owen, (1994) Wagner's Ring: Turning the Sky Round. Amadeus Press, ISBN 978-0879101862
- Magee, Bryan, (2001) The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy. Metropolitan Books, ISBN 0-8050-6788-4
- Magee, Bryan, (1988) Aspects of Wagner. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-284012-6
- Millington, Barry (editor)(2001) The Wagner Compendium. Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-28274-9
- Sabor, Rudolph, (1997) Richard Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen: a companion volume. Phaidon Press, ISBN 0-7148-3650-8
- Spotts, Frederick, (1999) Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival. Yale University Press ISBN 0-7126-5277-9
- Shaw, George Bernard (1883) The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Nibelungen's Ring. 
- Der Ring des Nibelungen - Free download online. TEMPUS Collection - Maximianno Cobra Edition.
- Der Ring des Nibelungen - Entire Score online. William and Gayle Cook Music Library. Indiana University School of Music.
- Richard Wagner Archives maintained by author Hannu Salmi
- Das Rheingold, synopsis. Kristian Evensen (2003).
- Ring Synopsis
- The ‘Kirov’ Ring: Let’s Hear It for the Home Team. The New York Times - Arts Blog by Anthony Tommasini (2007).
- Radio Lab - The Ring and I. WNYC - A podcast about The Ring (2004).
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