Category:Operas by Richard Wagner
Pages in category "Operas by Richard Wagner"
The following 25 pages are in this category, out of 25 total, this list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
The following 25 pages are in this category, out of 25 total, this list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
1. Opera – Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. In traditional opera, singers do two types of singing, recitative, a style and arias, a more melodic style. Opera incorporates many of the elements of theatre, such as acting, scenery. The performance is given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble. Opera is a key part of the Western classical music tradition, in the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe, attracting foreign composers such as George Frideric Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Christoph Willibald Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his operas in the 1760s. The first third of the 19th century saw the point of the bel canto style, with Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti. It also saw the advent of Grand Opera typified by the works of Auber and Meyerbeer, the mid-to-late 19th century was a golden age of opera, led and dominated by Richard Wagner in Germany and Giuseppe Verdi in Italy. The popularity of opera continued through the era in Italy and contemporary French opera through to Giacomo Puccini. During the 19th century, parallel operatic traditions emerged in central and eastern Europe, the 20th century saw many experiments with modern styles, such as atonality and serialism, Neoclassicism, and Minimalism. With the rise of recording technology, singers such as Enrico Caruso, since the invention of radio and television, operas were also performed on these mediums. Beginning in 2006, a number of opera houses began to present live high-definition video transmissions of their performances in cinemas all over the world. In 2009, an opera company offered a download of a complete performance. The words of an opera are known as the libretto, some composers, notably Wagner, have written their own libretti, others have worked in close collaboration with their librettists, e. g. Mozart with Lorenzo Da Ponte. Vocal duets, trios and other ensembles often occur, and choruses are used to comment on the action, in some forms of opera, such as singspiel, opéra comique, operetta, and semi-opera, the recitative is mostly replaced by spoken dialogue. Melodic or semi-melodic passages occurring in the midst of, or instead of, the terminology of the various kinds of operatic voices is described in detail below. Over the 18th century, arias were accompanied by the orchestra. Subsequent composers have tended to follow Wagners example, though some, the changing role of the orchestra in opera is described in more detail below
2. Richard Wagner – Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works and he described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and his advances in musical language, such as extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centres, greatly influenced the development of classical music. His Tristan und Isolde is sometimes described as marking the start of modern music, Wagner had his own opera house built, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which embodied many novel design features. The Ring and Parsifal were premiered here and his most important stage works continue to be performed at the annual Bayreuth Festival, until his final years, Wagners life was characterised by political exile, turbulent love affairs, poverty and repeated flight from his creditors. His controversial writings on music, drama and politics have attracted extensive comment, notably, since the late 20th century, where they express antisemitic sentiments. The effect of his ideas can be traced in many of the arts throughout the 20th century, his influence spread beyond composition into conducting, philosophy, literature, Richard Wagner was born to an ethnic German family in Leipzig, where his family lived at No. 3, the Brühl in the Jewish quarter and he was baptized at St. Thomas Church. He was the child of Carl Friedrich Wagner, who was a clerk in the Leipzig police service, and his wife, Johanna Rosine. Wagners father Carl died of typhus six months after Richards birth, afterwards his mother Johanna lived with Carls friend, the actor and playwright Ludwig Geyer. In August 1814 Johanna and Geyer probably married—although no documentation of this has found in the Leipzig church registers. She and her family moved to Geyers residence in Dresden, until he was fourteen, Wagner was known as Wilhelm Richard Geyer. He almost certainly thought that Geyer was his biological father, Geyers love of the theatre came to be shared by his stepson, and Wagner took part in his performances. In his autobiography Mein Leben Wagner recalled once playing the part of an angel, in late 1820, Wagner was enrolled at Pastor Wetzels school at Possendorf, near Dresden, where he received some piano instruction from his Latin teacher. He struggled to play a scale at the keyboard and preferred playing theatre overtures by ear. Following Geyers death in 1821, Richard was sent to the Kreuzschule, at the age of nine he was hugely impressed by the Gothic elements of Carl Maria von Webers opera Der Freischütz, which he saw Weber conduct. At this period Wagner entertained ambitions as a playwright and his first creative effort, listed in the Wagner-Werk-Verzeichnis as WWV1, was a tragedy called Leubald. Begun when he was in school in 1826, the play was influenced by Shakespeare
3. Die Feen – Die Feen is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. The German libretto was written by the composer after Carlo Gozzis La donna serpente, Die Feen was Wagners first completed opera, but remained unperformed in his lifetime. It has never established itself firmly in the operatic repertory although it receives occasional performances, on stage or in concert, the opera is available on CD and in a DVD. The overture has been separately recorded, although the music of Die Feen shows the influences of Carl Maria von Weber and other composers of the time, commentators have recognised embryonic features of the mature Wagnerian opera. The fantasy plot also anticipates themes such as redemption that were to reappear in his later works, Die Feen was Wagners first completed opera, composed in 1833, when he was 20 years old and working as a part-time chorus master in Würzburg. He gave it the description of Grosse romantische Oper, the year before he started composition, Wagner had abandoned his first attempt at writing an opera, Die Hochzeit. There were a number of facing new German-language opera in the 1830s. First there was deemed to be a lack of good quality libretti to set and this may have influenced Wagners decision to write the libretto for Die Feen himself. Second, there was a fear among the authorities in Germany and Austria that the performance of operas in German would attract nationalist and this would have added to the difficulties faced by a novice composer seeking an opportunity for his new opera to be performed. Although Gozzis La donna serpente was the source for Wagners plot, the libretto also introduced a fantastic theme that was not in the original play. The libretto displays themes and patterns that were to recur in Wagners more mature works and these include redemption, a mysterious stranger demanding that their lover not ask their name, and long expository narratives. Wagner revised the score of Die Feen in 1834, when he hoped for a production, among the changes in the 1834 version was the rewriting from scratch of Adas grand scene Weh mir, so nah die fürchterliche Stunde. However, it remained unperformed during his lifetime, Wagner personally gave the original manuscript of Die Feen to King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The manuscript was given as a gift to Adolf Hitler. A draft, in Wagners hand, of dialogue he wrote to substitute for some of the recitatives, is in the Stefan Zweig Collection at the British Library. Die Feen was premiered in Munich on 29 June 1888 with a cast including several singers who had created roles in Wagners later operas and it is the only Wagner opera that has not been recorded for broadcast television or video. There are some recordings, the one with the best known performers being a live performance conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch as part of the celebrations of the centenary of the composers death. The English premiere was in Birmingham on 17 May 1969 and the American concert premiere was at the New York City Opera on 24 February 1982, in 1981 Friedrich Meyer-Oertel staged Die Feen at the Opernhaus Wuppertal
4. The Flying Dutchman (opera) – The Flying Dutchman, WWV63, is a German-language opera, with libretto and music by Richard Wagner. Wagner claimed in his 1870 autobiography Mein Leben that he had been inspired to write the following a stormy sea crossing he made from Riga to London in July. In his 1843 Autobiographic Sketch, Wagner acknowledged he had taken the story from Heinrich Heines retelling of the legend in his 1833 satirical novel The Memoirs of Mister von Schnabelewopski, the central theme is redemption through love. Wagner conducted the premiere at the Semper Oper in Dresden in 1843 and this work shows early attempts at operatic styles that would characterise his later music dramas. In Der fliegende Holländer Wagner uses a number of associated with the characters. The leitmotifs are all introduced in the overture, which begins with an ocean or storm motif before moving into the Dutchman. By the beginning of 1839, the now 26-year-old Richard Wagner was employed as a conductor at the Court Theatre in Riga. His extravagant lifestyle plus the retirement from the stage of his actress wife, Minna, Wagner was writing Rienzi and hatched a plan to flee his creditors in Riga, escape to Paris via London and make his fortune by putting Rienzi on to the stage of the Paris Opéra. Boarding the ship Thetis, whose captain had agreed to them without passports, their sea journey was hindered by storms. The ship at one point took refuge in the Norwegian fjords at Tvedestrand, Wagners experience of Paris was also disastrous. He was unable to get work as a conductor, and the Opéra did not want to produce Rienzi, the Wagners were reduced to poverty, relying on handouts from friends and from the little income that Wagner could make writing articles on music and copying scores. Wagner hit on the idea of an opera on the theme of the Flying Dutchman. Wagner wrote the first prose draft of the story in Paris early in May 1840, in Heines tale, the narrator watches a performance of a fictitious stage play on the theme of the sea captain cursed to sail forever for blasphemy. In Heines version, this is presented as a means for ironic humour, however, Wagner took this literally and in his draft. By the end of May 1841 Wagner had completed the libretto or poem as he preferred to call it and these were composed for an audition at the Paris Opéra, along with the sketch of the plot. Wagner actually sold the sketch to the Director of the Opéra, Léon Pillet, for 500 francs, but was unable to convince him that the music was worth anything. Wagner composed the rest of the Der Fliegende Holländer during the summer of 1841, with the Overture being written last, while this score was designed to be played continuously in a single act, Wagner later divided the piece into a three-act work. In doing so, however, he did not alter the music significantly, in his original draft Wagner set the action in Scotland, but he changed the location to Norway shortly before the first production staged in Dresden and conducted by himself in January 1843
5. Die Hochzeit – Die Hochzeit is an unfinished opera by Richard Wagner which predates his completed works in the genre. Wagner completed the libretto, then started composing the music in the half of 1832 when he was just nineteen. He abandoned the project after his sister Rosalie, who was the main supporter, today, only three pieces survive from the opera. What is still known of the story is that it concerns the events surrounding the marriage of a young woman, Ada. This is a marriage, not one of love. On the eve of the wedding, Adas lover, Cadolt and she rejects his advances, preferring to defend her honour but, in the process, pushes him over the balcony to his death. Ada still loves Cadolt and collapses and dies at the next to his body. The only printed version of the musical score is the edition by Michael Balling. Very little musicological study has been carried out relating to Die Hochzeit, Ada and Arindal were later used as the names of the two principal characters in Die Feen, Wagners first completed opera. As there appear to be some textual commonalities with Die Feen, Die Hochzeit Leipzig, Breitkopf und Härtel
6. Die Laune des Verliebten – Die Laune des Verliebten was Richard Wagners first attempt at an opera project. Written in about 1830, when Wagner was 17, the libretto was based on a play of the name by Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Wagner wrote a scene for three voices and a tenor aria before abandoning the project. There is no performance history for these fragments, and neither words nor music have survived
7. Das Liebesverbot – Das Liebesverbot, is an early opera in two acts by Richard Wagner, with the libretto written by the composer after Shakespeares Measure for Measure. Described as a Große komische Oper, it was composed in 1834 and it was never performed again in Wagners lifetime. Restrained sexuality versus eroticism plays an important role in Das Liebesverbot, themes recur throughout much of Wagners output, most notably in Tannhäuser, Die Walküre. In each opera, the self-abandonment to love brings the lovers into mortal combat with the social order. In Das Liebesverbot, because it is a comedy, the outcome is a happy one, Wagners second opera, and his first to be performed, has many signs of an early work, the style is modelled closely on contemporary French and Italian comic opera. It is also referred to as the comedy, in that only two of Wagners works are comedies, the other being Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The opera was performed in the following hundred years. In the United Kingdom, the first performance was given on 16 February 1965 at the Collegiate Theatre of the University of London, the cast was led by Mark Schnaible as Friedrich and Claudia Waite as Isabella, Corrado Rovaris conducted. In 1994 Das Liebesverbot was performed at the Wexford Opera Festival, the first fully staged performance in the United States was at Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, NY, in the summer of 2008. In 2009, a production was presented at the International Festival of Young Singers at the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg plus a staged production at the Staatstheater Braunschweig in October. In 2013,200 years after the birth, it was performed in Bayreuth for the first time. A production of the Oper Leipzig was shown in the Oberfrankenhalle and it was staged by Aron Stiehl with elements of operetta and revue, Constantin Trinks conducted the Gewandhausorchester. Since 2011 a production of work has formed part of the repertoire of Helikon Opera Moscow. In Romania it was staged at the Cluj-Napoca Hungarian Opera, in 2016 it was staged by the Teatro Real, Madrid. The synopsis is Wagners own description of his scenario, in a translation by William Ashton Ellis published in 1898, Luzio promises to go at once to Isabella in the cloister of the Elisabethans, where she has lately entered her novitiate. A convent Within the quiet cloister walls we make the acquaintance of this sister, in confidential converse with her friend Marianne, Marianne discloses to her friend, from whom she has long been parted, the sad fate that has brought her hither. Isabellas horror finds vent in a tempest of wrath, only to be allayed by the resolve to leave a world where such monstrosities can go unpunished. Her violence unwittingly exhibits her to Luzio in the most seductive light, fired by sudden love, he implores her to leave the nunnery for ever and take his hand
8. Lohengrin (opera) – Lohengrin, WWV75, is a Romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. It is part of the Knight of the Swan tradition, the opera has inspired other works of art. King Ludwig II of Bavaria named his fairy-tale castle New Swan Castle, or Neuschwanstein and it was King Ludwigs patronage that later gave Wagner the means and opportunity to compose, build a theatre for, and stage his epic cycle The Ring of the Nibelung. The most popular and recognizable part of the opera is the Bridal Chorus, better known as Here Comes the Bride, the literary figure of Lohengrin first appeared as a supporting character in the final chapter of the middle-age epic poem Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach. The Grail Knight Lohengrin, son of the Grail King Parzival, is sent to the duchess of Brabant to defend her and his protection comes under the condition that she must never ask his name. If she violates this requirement, he will be forced to leave her, Wagner attempted at the same time to weave elements of Greek tragedy into the plot. He wrote the following in Mitteilungen an meine Freunde about his Lohengrin plans, Who doesnt know Zeus, the god is in love with a human woman and approaches her in human form. The lover finds that she cannot recognize the god in this form, Zeus knows that she would be destroyed by the sight of his real self. He suffers in this awareness, suffers knowing that he must fulfill this demand and he will seal his own doom when the gleam of his godly form destroys his lover. Is the man who craves for God not destroyed, in composing Lohengrin Wagner created a new form of opera, the through-composed music drama. The composition is not divided into numbers, but is played from act to act without any interruption. This style of composition contrasts with that of the conventional number opera, which is divided into arias, recitatives, Lohengrin still contains lengthy performances—for example, Elsas Alone in dark days and Lohengrins Grail aria—which harken back to the classical solo aria form. Wagner made extensive use of leitmotives in his composition and these motives allowed Wagner to precisely narrate the inner thoughts of the characters on stage, even without speech. The first production of Lohengrin was in Weimar, Germany, on 28 August 1850 at the Staatskapelle Weimar under the direction of Franz Liszt, Liszt chose the date in honour of Weimars most famous citizen, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was born on 28 August 1749. Despite the inadequacies of the lead tenor Karl Beck, it was a popular success. Wagner himself was unable to attend the first performance, having been exiled because of his part in the 1849 May Uprising in Dresden. Although he conducted various extracts in concert in Zurich, London, Paris and Brussels, the operas first performance outside German-speaking lands was in Riga on 5 February 1855. The Austrian premiere took place in Vienna at the Theater am Kärntnertor on 19 August 1858, the work was produced in Munich for the first time at the National Theatre on 16 June 1867, with Heinrich Vogl in the title role and Mathilde Mallinger as Elsa
9. Katharinenkirche, Nuremberg – The Katharinenkirche in Nuremberg, Bavaria, was an important mediaeval church, destroyed during the Second World War and preserved as a ruin. St. Catherines was the church of a former Dominican convent, in the Diocese of Bamberg and it was founded in 1295 by Konrad von Neumarkt and his wife Adelheid, patricians of the Pfinzig family. In the Middle Ages it had an important medieval library, after the Reformation, it became a Lutheran church. The convent was closed in 1596 after the last inhabitant died, the church was associated with the Meistersingers who met there from 1620 to 1778, and is featured in the opening scene of Richard Wagners opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Although destroyed by air raids in 1945, it was restored and is used for events such as open-air concerts. Dokumentierende Rekonstruktion der Bibliothek des Nürnberger Katharinenklosters
10. Parsifal – Parsifal is an opera in three acts by German composer Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a 13th-century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival, Wagner first conceived the work in April 1857 but did not finish it until twenty-five years later. It was Wagners last completed opera and in composing it he took advantage of the acoustics of his Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Parsifal was first produced at the second Bayreuth Festival in 1882, the Bayreuth Festival maintained a monopoly on Parsifal productions until 1903, when the opera was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Wagner described Parsifal not as an opera, but as Ein Bühnenweihfestspiel, at Bayreuth a tradition has arisen that there be no applause after the first act of the opera. Wagner first read von Eschenbachs poem Parzival while taking the waters at Marienbad in 1845, after encountering Arthur Schopenhauers writings in 1854, Wagner became interested in oriental philosophies, especially Buddhism. Out of this interest came Die Sieger a sketch Wagner wrote for an opera based on a story from the life of Buddha, the themes which were later explored in Parsifal of self-renouncing, reincarnation, compassion, and even exclusive social groups were first introduced in Die Sieger. The composer and his wife Minna had moved into the cottage on 28 April, full of this sentiment, I suddenly remembered that the day was Good Friday, and I called to mind the significance this omen had already once assumed for me when I was reading Wolframs Parzival. The work may indeed have been conceived at Wesendoncks cottage in the last week of April 1857, but Good Friday that year fell on 10 April, when the Wagners were still living at Zeltweg 13 in Zürich. If the prose sketch which Wagner mentions in Mein Leben was accurately dated, it could settle the issue once and for all, Wagner did not resume work on Parsifal for eight years, during which time he completed Tristan und Isolde and began Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. But once again the work was dropped and set aside for another eleven, during this time most of Wagners creative energy was devoted to the Ring cycle, which was finally completed in 1874 and given its first full performance at Bayreuth in August 1876. Only when this task had been accomplished did Wagner find the time to concentrate on Parsifal. By 23 February 1877 he had completed a second and more extensive prose draft of the work, in September 1877 he began the music by making two complete drafts of the score from beginning to end. The first of these was made in pencil on three staves, one for the voices and two for the instruments, the second complete draft was made in ink and on at least three, but sometimes as many as five, staves. This draft was more detailed than the first and contained a considerable degree of instrumental elaboration. The Gesamtentwurf of act 3 was completed on 16 April 1879, the full score was the final stage in the compositional process. It was made in ink and consisted of a copy of the entire opera, with all the voices. The prelude of act 1 was scored in August 1878, the rest of the opera was scored between August 1879 and 13 January 1882
11. Das Rheingold – Das Rheingold, WWV 86A, is the first of the four music dramas that constitute Richard Wagners Der Ring des Nibelungen, or in English, The Ring of the Nibelung. Das Rheingold premiered at the National Theatre Munich on 22 September 1869, with August Kindermann in the role of Wotan, Heinrich Vogl as Loge, and Karl Fischer as Alberich. Wagner wanted this work to premiere as part of the entire cycle, the work was first performed as part of the complete cycle on 13 August 1876, in the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Although Das Rheingold comes first in the sequence of Ring operas, so in August 1851, Wagner wrote in Eine Mittheilung an meine Freunde, I propose to produce my myth in three complete dramas. However, by October, he had decided that this required a prelude. To the sentence quoted above he added the words, which will be preceded by a great prelude, a letter Wagner wrote to Theodor Uhlig confirms that at this time the opera was intended to have three acts. Wagner continued to develop the text and storyline of the prelude in parallel with those of Die Walküre, the prose draft of Das Rheingold was completed between 21 March and 23 March 1852 and its verse draft between 15 September and 3 November. A fair copy of the text was finished by 15 December, during the early years of the 1850s Wagner produced some musical sketches for parts of the Ring and noted down various motifs that were to be used in the work. There also exist three sets of isolated musical sketches for Das Rheingold which were composed between 15 September 1852 and November 1853. The first of these was entered into the draft of the text, the second into Wagners copy of the 1853 printing of the text. All three were used by Wagner. Proper sequential development of the score started on 1 November 1853, by 14 January, Wagner had completed the first draft of the opera on between two and three staves. The next stage involved the development of a detailed draft that indicated most of the vocal and instrumental details. This was completed by 28 May, in parallel with this, Wagner started work on a fair copy of the score on 15 February, a task he completed on 26 September 1854, by which time he had also started work on the sketches of Die Walküre. Das Rheingold was first performed at Munich on 22 September 1869 and its first performance as part of the complete Ring cycle took place at Bayreuth on 13 August 1876. It continues to be performed on a regular basis both in Bayreuth and elsewhere, Das Rheingold, considerably shorter than its three successors, consists of four scenes performed without a break. It has been noted as one of the best-known drone examples in the concert repertory, the curtain rises to show, at the bottom of the Rhine, the three Rhine maidens, Woglinde, Wellgunde, and Flosshilde, playing together. The key shifts to A flat as Woglinde begins an innocent song whose melody is used to characterise the Rhine maidens later in the cycle
12. Rienzi – Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Edward Bulwer-Lyttons novel of the same name. The title is shortened to Rienzi. Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden, on 20 October 1842, in the end the populace burns the Capitol, in which Rienzi and a few adherents have made a last stand. Each act ends with an extended finale ensemble and is replete with solos, duets, trios, there is also an extended ballet in act 2 according to the accepted Grand Opera format. Hans von Bülow was later to joke that Rienzi is Meyerbeers best opera, Wagner began to draft the opera in Riga in 1837, after reading Lyttons novel. In 1839, meeting Meyerbeer by chance in Boulogne, he was able to read the latter the first three acts of the libretto, and to gain his interest. Meyerbeer also introduced Wagner to Ignaz Moscheles, who was staying at Boulogne, as Ernest Newman comments. When the opera was completed in 1840, Wagner had hoped for it to be premiered at the Paris Opéra, several circumstances, including his lack of influence, prevented this. The full score of Rienzi was completed on 19 November 1840 and this, with the proposed staging of The Flying Dutchman in Berlin, also supported by Meyerbeer, persuaded Wagner to return to Germany in April 1842. No one suspected that what was a joke for them was the means of buying an extra morsel of sorely-needed food. The premiere of Rienzi took place on 20 October in the new Dresden Opera House, designed by the architect Gottfried Semper and opened on 14 April 1841. Semper and Wagner were later to friends in Dresden, a connection which eventually led to Semper providing designs which became a basis of Wagners Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. The first performance of Rienzi was well received in Dresden despite running over six hours, one legend is that, fearful of the audience departing, Wagner stopped the clock above the stage. In his later memoirs, Mein Leben, Wagner recalled, No subsequent experience has given me feelings even remotely similar to those I had on this day of the first performance of Rienzi, the initial success of Rienzi was no doubt assured beforehand. But the uproarious way in which the public declared its partiality for me was extraordinary, the public had been forcibly predisposed to accept it, because everyone connected with the theatre had been spreading such favourable reports. That the entire population was looking forward to what was heralded as a miracle, in trying to recall my condition that evening, I can remember it only as possessing all the features of a dream. Subsequently, Wagner experimented with giving the opera over two evenings, and making cuts to enable a more reasonable performance in a single evening, despite Wagners reservations, Rienzi remained one of his most successful operas until the early 20th century. The Paris premiere of Rienzi finally took place on 6 April 1869 at the Théâtre Lyrique under the baton of Jules Pasdeloup
13. Der Ring des Nibelungen: Composition of the music – The composition of the operatic tetralogy The Ring of the Nibelung occupied Richard Wagner for more than a quarter of a century. Conceived around 1848, the work was not finished until 1874, most of this time was devoted to the composition of the music, the text having been largely completed in about four years. Furthermore, it was often Wagners practice to work on two or more drafts of a work at the time, switching back and forth between them as the fancy took him. Consequently, it is all but impossible to make statements about the exact order in which the various themes, leitmotifs. Needless to say, he added supplementary sketches to these throughout the compositional process and these sketches are sometimes little more than fragmentary phrases jotted down on scraps of paper, but they can also be quite lengthy and elaborate sections of music written on several staves. Preliminary Draft – the first complete draft in pencil of the work or of an entire act. There is generally only one vocal stave and one or two instrumental staves, instrumental interludes are sometimes elaborated on three staves. Developed Draft – in the case of Siegfried, the drafts were elaborated before Wagner proceeded to develop the full scores. In these intermediate drafts, he worked out all the orchestral details, the developed drafts for the first two acts of Siegfried are in ink and are written on one vocal and two instrumental staves throughout. In WWV these developed drafts are called Orchesterskizzen, a term which WWV also employs to describe the more elaborate second drafts of the acts of the Ring. These Orchesterskizzen, as Wagner himself styled them, are more detailed than the developed drafts of the first two acts of Siegfried. This draft was written in pencil and on as many staves as were required by the instrumentation and it is thus but one remove from being a full score, and in WWV both are referred to by the same name. The instrumental prelude that precedes Scene 1 was not included in the draft, however. Full Score – the final score, in which the instrumentation is fully detailed and separate staves are allocated to the various instruments, the full scores for Die Walküre and Siegfried are in pencil, those for Das Rheingold, Siegfried and the whole of Götterdämmerung are in ink. Needless to say, as many staves are used as are required by the instrumentation, no full score was made for Das Rheingold, as the instrumentation draft was considered sufficiently detailed for a fair copy to be made directly from it. Fair Copy – a clean copy in ink of the full score, Wagner only drafted fair copies for Das Rheingold, Die Walküre and the first two acts of Siegfried. In the case of the Das Rheingold, there was no full score as such, in the case of Siegfried and the whole of Götterdämmerung the full scores were written neatly in ink, so Wagner did not deem it necessary to draft a separate fair copy. The fair copy of Das Rheingold was, incidentally, the first fair copy Wagner ever made of one of his operas and it took Wagner just over four years to complete the text of his Ring cycle
14. Der Ring des Nibelungen: Composition of the poem – The names of the last two Ring operas, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, were probably not definitively settled until 1856. While researching this work, he came to see Friedrich as a rebirth of the old. Then, in the summer of 1848, he wrote the essay Die Wibelungen, Weltgeschichte aus der Saga and this led him to consider Siegfried as a possible subject for a new opera, and by October 1848 the entire Ring cycle had been conceived. The actual sequence of events, it seems, was not nearly as clear-cut as he would have us believe. It was in October 1846 – some sixteen months before the February Revolution – that he first drew up a plan for a drama based on the life of Friedrich Barbarossa. Whatever the truth, Wagner was certainly contemplating an opera on Siegfried by 1 April 1848, otto-Peters even wrote a libretto for such an opera. Wagner, as it happened, was familiar with the Nibelungenlied. He had even drawn upon it for one of the scenes in an opera, Lohengrin. Wagners libretti, which he wrote himself, usually passed through four stages. These stages are as follows, Prose Sketch – a brief outline of the dramatic action, typically these sketches consisted of no more than a few paragraphs of prose, though Wagner sometimes added to them or modified them before proceeding to the next stage. This was the case with the sketches for the first three parts of the tetralogy, exceptionally, however, Wagner never drafted a prose sketch for Götterdämmerung. The prose sketch for Act III of Die Walküre has disappeared, Prose Draft – an elaborate prose treatment of the opera, describing the action in great detail. These drafts were usually ten or more pages in length and they included a considerable amount of dialogue. Prose drafts survive for all four Ring operas, verse Draft – a first draft of the final libretto, written in an archaic form of German alliterative verse known as Stabreim. He also added new elements not present in the prose drafts and it was also while developing the latter that he first thought of making Loge a god of fire, in the prose draft of Das Rheingold he is merely a trickster and teller of unwelcome truths. While writing his verse drafts, Wagner also greatly expanded his stage directions, fair Copy – a clean, carefully written verse libretto, usually free of corrections and alterations. Punctuation and capitalization were regularized at this stage, as part of his preparations for the projected opera on Siegfried, Wagner first drafted a preliminary study of the relevant German and Nordic myths, Die Nibelungensage. When he made a copy of this text on 8 October
15. Der Ring des Nibelungen – Der Ring des Nibelungen, WWV86, is a cycle of four German-language epic music dramas composed by Richard Wagner. The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas, the composer termed the cycle a Bühnenfestspiel, structured in three days preceded by a Vorabend. It is often referred to as the Ring Cycle, Wagners Ring, Wagner wrote the libretto and music over the course of about twenty-six years, from 1848 to 1874. The first performance as an opened the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876, beginning with Das Rheingold on 13 August. Wagners title is most literally rendered in English as The Ring of the Nibelung, the Nibelung of the title is the dwarf Alberich, and the ring in question is the one he fashions from the Rhine Gold. The title therefore denotes Alberichs Ring, Nibelungen is occasionally mistaken as a plural, but the Ring of the Nibelungs is incorrect. The cycle is a work of extraordinary scale, the first and shortest work, Das Rheingold, typically lasts two and a half hours, while the final and longest, Götterdämmerung, takes up to five hours, excluding intervals. The cycle is modelled after ancient Greek dramas that were presented as three tragedies and one satyr play, the Ring proper 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, the scale and scope of the story is epic. It follows the struggles of gods, heroes, and several mythical creatures over the 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. Remarkably, he uses a chorus only relatively briefly, in acts 2 and 3 of Götterdämmerung and he eventually had a purpose-built theatre constructed, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, in which to perform this work. The theatre has a stage that blends the huge orchestra with the singers voices. The result was that the singers did not have to strain themselves vocally during the long performances. The plot revolves around a ring that grants the power to rule the world. Wotans schemes to regain the ring, spanning generations, drive much of the action in the story, Hagen is drowned as he attempts to recover the ring. In the process, the gods and Valhalla are destroyed, details of the storylines can be found in the articles on each music drama
16. Siegfried (opera) – Siegfried, WWV 86C, is the third of the four music dramas that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen, by Richard Wagner. It premiered at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring cycle, the musical composition was commenced in 1856, but not finally completed until 1871. Having grappled with his text for Siegfrieds Tod, and indeed having undertaken some musical sketches for it during 1851, at this point he conceived that the prefatory opera, Der junge Siegfried, could act as a comic foil to the tragedy of Siegfrieds Tod. Its all growing out of the ground as if it were wild, shortly afterwards he wrote to Uhlig that he was now planning to tell the Siegfried story in the form of three dramas, plus a prologue in three acts—a clear prefiguring of the Ring cycle. The composition of Acts 1 and 2 was completed by August 1857, Wagner then left off work on Siegfried to write the operas Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger. He did not resume work on Siegfried until 1869, when he composed the third act, the final revision of the score was undertaken in February 1871. Performance was withheld until the first complete production of the Ring cycle, elements of the plot of Siegfried come from a variety of sources. In a letter to Uhlig, Wagner recounted The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was and it concerns a boy so stupid he had never learned to be afraid. Wagner wrote that the boy and Siegfried are the same character, the boy is taught to fear by his wife, and Siegfried learns it when he discovers the sleeping Brünnhilde. Siegfrieds ability in Act Two to see through Mimes deceitful words seems to have derived from a 19th-century street theatre version of the story of Faust. Some elements of the story are derived from legends of Sigurd, notably the Völsunga saga, scene 1 of Act 3 has a parallel in the Eddic poem Baldrs draumar, in which Odin questions a völva about the future of the gods. A cave in rocks in the forest, as the curtain rises, Alberichs brother, the dwarf Mime, is forging a sword. Mime is plotting to obtain the ring of power created by his brother Alberich. Mime needs a sword for Siegfried to use, but the youth has contemptuously broken every sword Mime has made, Siegfried returns from his wanderings in the forest with a wild bear in tow, and immediately breaks the new sword. Mime is forced to explain how he took in Siegfrieds mother, Sieglinde and he shows Siegfried the broken pieces of the sword Nothung, which Mime had obtained from her. Siegfried orders him to reforge the sword, Mime, however, is unable to accomplish this, Siegfried departs, leaving Mime in despair. An old man arrives at the door and introduces himself as the Wanderer, in return for the hospitality due a guest, he wagers his head on answering any three questions of Mime. The dwarf asks the Wanderer to name the races that live beneath the ground, on the earth and these are the Nibelung, the Giants, and the Gods, as the Wanderer answers correctly
17. Tristan und Isolde – Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Strassburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered at the Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the not as an opera, but called it eine Handlung. Wagners composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertoire, Tristan was notable for Wagners unprecedented use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension. Other composers like Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky formulated their styles in contrast to Wagners musical legacy. Many see Tristan as the beginning of the move away from common practice harmony and tonality, both Wagners libretto style and music were also profoundly influential on the Symbolist poets of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Wagner was forced to abandon his position as conductor of the Dresden Opera in 1849 and he left his wife, Minna, in Dresden, and fled to Zürich. There, in 1852, he met the wealthy silk trader Otto Wesendonck, Wesendonck became a supporter of Wagner and bankrolled the composer for several years. Wesendoncks wife, Mathilde, became enamoured of the composer, though Wagner was working on his epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, he found himself intrigued by the legend of Tristan and Iseult. The story of Tristan and Isolde is a romance of the Middle Ages. Several versions of the story exist, the earliest dating to the middle of the 12th century, gottfrieds version, part of the courtly branch of the legend, had a huge influence on later German literature. It was some such mood that inspired the conception of a Tristan und Isolde. I have devised in my mind a Tristan und Isolde, the simplest, yet most full-blooded musical conception imaginable, by the end of 1854, Wagner had sketched out all three acts of an opera on the Tristan theme, based on Gottfried von Strassburgs telling of the story. On 20 August he began the prose sketch for the opera, Wagner, at this time, had moved into a cottage built in the grounds of Wesendoncks villa, where, during his work on Tristan und Isolde, he became passionately involved with Mathilde Wesendonck. Whether or not this relationship was platonic remains uncertain, one evening in September of that year, Wagner read the finished poem of Tristan to an audience including his wife, Minna, his current muse, Mathilde, and his future mistress, Cosima von Bülow. By October 1857, Wagner had begun the composition sketch of the first Act, during November, however, he set five of Mathildes poems to music known today as the Wesendonck Lieder. This was a move by Wagner, who almost never set to music poetic texts other than his own. But Wagner resolved to write Tristan only after he had secured a deal with the Leipzig-based firm Breitkopf & Härtel