A First-Timer's Guide to Wagner's Ring

A year or so ago my sweetie and I got a chance through a friend to get good seats for a complete performance of Wagner's Ring des Nibelungen. I have known and loved that work for 30 years, but my sweetie had no familiarity with Wagner at all. I didn't want her to have to walk into 16 hours or so of opera cold, so I wrote up some brief notes and put together a couple of tapes of excerpts.

She read the notes and listened to the tapes. We went to the performances and had a great time. In fact, she loved the work so much that she named her new car "Grane" after Brünnhilde's horse. We are planning to go to Seattle to see the whole cycle again two years from now.

It occurred to me that others might be interested in a quick, first-timer's introduction to the Ring, and that the Web provided a perfect medium for such a thing. After all, there are whole books one can read about this work if you already love it--studies that turn it inside and out--but there seems to be no good overview whose specific purpose is to prepare a listener for her first Ring. These pages are my adaptation of Tina's notes to a wider audience.

At every point in putting this together I had to resist the temptation to go too deep; after all, the best way to turn a neophyte off anything is to ask her to put in too much work up front. So these notes comprise only a very quick dip of the toe into Wagner, a mere appetizer.

If you find these pages interesting, or if you have suggestions for improvements, I would be very glad to hear from you.

Other Web Resources

There's a page on Richard Wagner on the Web that contains reviews of books and CDs and other resources.

For a really detailed source on the Ring, the University of Texas has a great set of pages.

Arthur Rackham did a set of stunning illustrations for the Ring and other classic tales.

The Seattle Opera is doing a complete ring cycle in 2001.