Why All the Fuss?
[ Issue 10 ]

Why All the Fuss keeps Emily Bronto occupied for hours

Permit Bikwil to reveal the delights of Why All the Fuss

Why All the Fuss?

Someone called Spud Money, in Why All the Fuss?, presents an outline of what Wagner's four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen is famous for.  

Tongue in cheek, of course.

If you need a hint of what The Ring is all about, just think lust for power, wealth and sex for openers, and universal murder, suicide and destruction for closers, with a bit of gratuitous redemption thrown in for good measure 

[ Print This Issue ]  

[ Help with Printing ]

 Music Player 

Why All the Fuss? — Spud Money

Copyright


While he wrote over 50 overtures, marches, choral works, piano pieces, songs, etc., together with dozens of literary works, Wagner is remembered mainly for his ten operas. None is more important than his monumental music drama Der Ring des Nibelungen. For the benefit of any Bikwil readers who aren’t familiar with the work, I have been challenged by the editor to sketch some sort of intro. But in one page? Fat chance! There’s not room here to summarise even a tenth of its plot. (If you need a hint of what it‘s all about, just think lust for power, wealth and sex for openers, and universal murder, suicide and destruction for closers, with a bit of gratuitous redemption thrown in for good measure.)

So what I‘ve decided to do is relate six fabulous “Guinness-Book-of-Records-type” facts about the work and then hope for the best as I scurry for cover.

The gargantuan Ring consists of not one but four operas — Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung — which require the audience to attend on four evenings for a total of 15 to 16 hours of music

Wagner worked on it over a period of more than 25 years (1848-74)

He wrote not only the music, but also the libretto (as he did for his other operas)

It required a special theatre to be built for it — the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth

The demands placed on the lead singers by Wagner (e.g. Brünnhilde and particularly Siegfried) are the most unmerciful in all opera

It has 27 principal singing roles, plus 40 extra parts, a chorus of over 80 and the voices of about a dozen children — to say nothing of an orchestra up to 110-strong.

Enough of the statistics, mirabile dictu though they may be. Let us now — to the reverberating strains of a passage from The Cambridge Music Guide (1985) — proceed over the rainbow bridge to Bikwil’s own tribute:

The Ring is Wagner’s greatest achievement; it has even been claimed, not unreasonably, as the greatest achievement of Western culture, so huge is its scale, so wide-ranging the issues it deals with, so profoundly unified is it on so many planes. It is based on ancient sagas: Wagner believed, as others have done too, that the truths embodied in myths have meanings far beyond any literal interpretation. The story of the Ring is about gods, dwarves (Nibelungs), giants and humans; it has been read (and performed) as a manifesto for socialism, as a plea for a Nazi-like racialism, as a study of the workings of the human psyche, as forecast of the fate of the world and humankind, as a parable about the new industrial society of Wagner’s time. It is all of these, and much more too. It touches at some point on every kind of human relationship and on numerous moral and philosophical issues. It is inevitably the focus of all debate on Wagner’s greatness and the meaning of his works.

Contents  Read Next Item  Read Previous Item
Top of Page

Home | Visitors' Guide | Random Read | Current Issue | Essays & Poems | Catalogues
Site Search
| Likeable Links | Subscriptions | About Us | FAQ | Testimonials | Site Map