Wagner on the Web
[ Issue 10 ]

Wagner on the Web keeps Emily Bronto occupied for hours

Permit Bikwil to reveal the delights of Wagner on the Web

Wagner on the Web

In Issue 10's Web Line Tony Rogers scouts around  for some Web sites that relate to music of Wagner. 

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Web Line — Tony Rogers


As is to be expected, Richard Wagner and his works are more than adequately represented on the Internet. Here are just a few of the web sites I've discovered.

I'll start with one appropriately called Wagner on the Web *, set up by Joe Erbacher and the P. Zazz Marketing Corporation. When I last had a look-in, the main page was featuring a discussion about whether you should buy the Solti original or the Solti remastered Ring recording.

Apart from that, there are many subpages, such as performance reviews, CD reviews, books for sale, details on all Wagner's works and links to other sites.

Useful stuff, especially the reviews. And if you’re really keen, you can add your name to their Internet mailing list and be automatically informed of site updates.

Next, very helpful for the utter Ring Cycle novice is A Beginner's Guide to Der Ring des Nibelungen, which opens as follows:

If you've never heard the Ring before, and your experience of Wagner's music is restricted to the Ride of the Valkyries with helicopters in Apocalypse Now and some bits of Siegfried's Funeral March, approach it very, very cautiously or you will be unjustly disappointed. Here are some suggestions.

Then follows some really good advice on how to ease yourself into the Ring, from reading a synopsis to listening to some "bleeding chunks". After that, you are advised to expand into longer and longer scenes, followed by a video of any of the four parts, until, lo and behold, one day you find yourself wanting to settle down with a libretto and hear the entire thing. Common sense, really.

A third site I recommend is the Richard Wagner Archive, maintained (in English) by Hannu Salmi at the University of Turku, Finland. You'll find information on his operas, his other works, his aesthetic and political writings, his letters, and even a section on the memorabilia and popular culture inspired by his character. There is also a built-in search engine. By the look of it this site is quite popular, having been visited over 60,000 times since November 1995.

It's good to see the Adelaide Ring with its own web site, or more strictly a subpage of the South Australian Opera's site. Here we are reminded that the Ring is "the Olympics of the arts world", and the current Aussie performances have required 36 solo vocal roles together with a considerably enlarged Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and State Opera Chorus (plus children), and, yes, three months' rehearsal. Over 90% of the production's cast, including all understudies, is drawn from Australia and New Zealand.

I like the Quoteable Quotes the site offers. Here are two:

Is there anything, in all the realm of art, to set beside Der Ring des Nibelungen? This cycle of four immense music dramas, the vastest piece of music ever conceived by the mind of man — what an experience it is [to] discover, and then to spend a lifetime exploring, those four parts, tracing their connective links, puzzling their meanings and listening through in wonder and awe to their shattering conclusion! (M. Owen Lee)

No work of art has stirred the imagination of Western men and women more widely or more profoundly than The Ring of the Nibelung . . . what has [been] written or composed in the last hundred years is likely to bear in some degree — can hardly have escaped — the influence of the most influential drama ever created. (Andrew Porter)

It was at this site that I first became aware of “the ultimate toy, the Ring Disc . . . An Interactive Guide to Wagner's Ring Cycle . . . a product unprecedented in the CD-Rom industry". If you get past the hype you'll realise that this CD-Rom (for a true Intel Pentium running Windows 95 or later, with a four-speed CD-Rom drive) is a real pearl. It features the complete Vienna Philharmonic recording conducted by Sir Georg Solti, 14˝ hours of digitised sound synchronised to the full piano-vocal score, the German libretto with English translation, plus a running analytical commentary. Comprehensive analyses, hypertext links and powerful search functions (“find that leitmotiv”) are provided, together with over 100 essays and a colour image database of rare archival photos. More information may be found at the dedicated Ring Disc site, or better still by ringing State of the Art Publications on (02) 9630 7755. The all-inclusive price is $A175. I love it.

* Note:
Since this article was first published in 1998, Wagner on the Web seems to have vanished from the Internet

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