List of works for the stage by Wagner

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Front page of the Dresden score of Wagner's 1845 opera Tannhäuser

Richard Wagner's works for the stage, representing more than 50 years of creative life, comprise his 13 completed operas and a similar number of failed or abandoned projects. His first effort, begun when he was 13, was a prose drama, Leubald, but thereafter all his works were conceived as some form of musical drama, it has been suggested that Wagner's wish to add incidental music to Leubald, in the manner of Beethoven's treatment of Goethe's drama Egmont, may have been the initial stimulus that directed him to musical composition.[1]

Wagner's musical education began in 1828, and a year later he was producing his earliest compositions, writing words and music, since lost, for his first opera attempt, Die Laune des Verliebten,[2] during the subsequent decade he began several more opera projects, none of which was successful although two were completed and one was staged professionally. His first commercial success came in 1842 with Rienzi,[3] by which time he had completed Der fliegende Holländer, in which for the first time he used the device of the leitmotiv, a characteristic that became a feature of all his later works.[4]

After accepting the post of Kapellmeister at the Dresden court of the King of Saxony in February 1843,[3] Wagner continued to compose operas and plan various large-scale projects,[5] his political activities forced him to flee the city in 1849, beginning a long period of exile. In Zurich, his first refuge, he wrote the essay Die Kunst und die Revolution ("Art and the Revolution"), in which he introduced the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, or "drama-through-music".[6] This idea was developed in the extended discourse Oper und Drama ("Opera and Drama"), 1850–51. A different form of verse-setting, which Wagner termed Versmelodie, was proposed,[6] in which the music would grow out of the verse, this unification overriding such traditional operatic considerations as display arias written as showcases for the talents of individual singers.[7] According to Wagner historian Robert Gutman: "The orchestra with its many tongues would take over the traditional operatic tasks of the chorus".[8] Beginning with Das Rheingold (1853–54), the principles of Gesamtkunstwerk became the basis of all Wagner's stage work, in which, quoting Wagner chronicler Charles Osborne, "the drama presented on a conscious level by the words [...] would be pursued on a deeper, unconscious level in the orchestra."[9]


Richard Wagner in Paris, 1860

From his first attempt in the opera genre, Die Laune des Verliebten, Wagner became his own librettist and remained so throughout his creative career,[10] his practice was to create music and text simultaneously; in biographer Robert Gutman's words: "as the music proceeded it drew forth the words."[10] While working on Tannhäuser Wagner explained his technique in a letter, saying: "before starting to create a verse or even outline a scene, I must first feel intoxicated by the musical aroma of my subject."[11]

Cataloguing Wagner's works[edit]

Unlike the works of many composers, those of Richard Wagner were not identified by opus numbers, and no proper attempt to create a complete catalogue was made until the 1980s; in 1983 the Wagner scholar John Deathbridge, in an article in The Musical Times, outlined the need for a reliable catalogue.[12] Two years later, in conjunction with Martin Gech and Egon Voss, he produced Wagner-Werk-Verzeichnis, described by fellow-scholar Michael Saffle as "perhaps the single finest and most useful of all Wagner reference works."[12] Each of Wagner's known works, whether finished or unfinished, is listed in a number sequence running from 1 to 113, the list includes all compositions and all prose drafts where the music is either lost or unwritten.[12]

List of works for the stage[edit]

WWV Title Genre Acts Composition date Première
Place and theatre Notes Refs
00101 Leubald Trauerspiel[T 1] 5 1827–28 1989-08-099 August 1989 Bayreuth, Studiobühne Schützenhaus[citation needed] Childhood attempt to write a grand tragedy based on Shakespearean themes. A version of the text exists, but no music survives. [13][14]
00606 LauneDie Laune des Verliebten (unfinished)
English: The infatuated lover's caprice
Oper? 1829–30 Unperformed Based on a play by Goethe. Neither text nor music survives. [2][15]
031031 HochzeitDie Hochzeit (unfinished)
English: The Wedding
Oper 1832 1938-02-1313 February 1938
Leipzig, Neues Theater Based on a story by J.G.G. Büsching [2][16][17][18][19]
032032 FeenDie Feen
English: The Fairies
Große romantische Oper 3 1833–34 1888-06-2929 June 1888 Munich, Hoftheater A reworking of La donna serpente by Carlo Gozzi [2][21]
038038 LiebesverbotDas Liebesverbot
English: The Ban on Love
Große komische Oper 2 1835–36 1836-03-2929 March 1836 Magdeburg, Stadttheater Loosely based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, and described (Osborne) as "a not very successful German imitation of Italian opera buffa." [23][24]
040040 hoheDie hohe Braut
English: The High-born Bride
Große Oper 4 1836–42 1848 (date not recorded) Prague Libretto sketched by Wagner in 1836–37, completed in 1842, and eventually set to music by Jan Bedrich Kittl under the title Bianca und Giuseppe. [25][26][27]
048048 Männerlist größer als Frauenlist, oder Die glückliche Bärenfamilie (unfinished)
English: Men are more cunning than women or The Happy Bear family
komische Oper 1839 2007-10-1313 October 2007
London, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House Based on a tale from One Thousand and One Nights. The libretto was completed but only the first three numbers set to music, these were lost until 1994. [16][17][19][29]
049049 Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen
English: Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes
Große tragische Oper 5 1839–40 1842-10-2020 October 1842 Dresden, Königliches Opernhaus Based on a drama by Edward Bulwer Lytton [25][31]
063063 fliegendeDer fliegende Holländer
English: The Flying Dutchman
romantische Oper 3 1841 1843-01-022 January 1843 Dresden, Königliches Opernhaus The orchestration was revised by Wagner several times. The opera is sometimes performed in a single act, without intermissions [33][34]
066066 SarazeninDie Sarazenin
English: The Saracen Woman
Oper 5 1841–42 Unperformed Libretto based on the character "Manfred" from Lord Byron's drama, not set to music [35][36]
068068 BergwerkeDie Bergwerke zu Falun
English: The Mines of Falun
Oper 3 1842 Unperformed Sketch of opera, based on a story by E. T. A. Hoffmann [17][27][35]
070070 Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf dem Wartburg (usually shortened to Tannhäuser)
English: Tannhäuser and the Song Contest on the Wartburg
Score (Dresden and Paris versions)[37]
Große romantische Oper 3 1843–45 1845-10-1919 October 1845;
Revised version:
18 March 1861
Dresden, Königliches Opernhaus (1845);
Paris, Opéra (1861)
Wagner did not produce a definitive edition of the score. The Paris premiere was disrupted by political and other demonstrations. [38][39]
075075 Lohengrin

romantische Oper 3 1846–48 1850-08-2828 August 1850 Weimar, Hoftheater Loosely based on the German legend of Lohengrin, as presented in medieval verse including Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival [41][42]
76 Friedrich I Oper? 5 1848–49 Unperformed Project on Frederick I of Prussia, possibly intended as a music drama. No libretto or music written [5][43]
080080 Jesus von Nazareth
English: Jesus of Nazareth
Oper? 5 1848–49 Unperformed Prose draft only for libretto, no music written. Aspects of the sketch may have been used in the writing of Parsifal [5][17][44]
081081 Achilleus
English: Achilles
Oper? 3 1848–49 Unperformed Prose sketch, no music written [5][45]
082082 Wieland der Schmied
English: Wieland the Smith
Heldenoper[T 2] 3 1849–50 Unperformed Prose sketch for a heroic opera, offered to and rejected by Liszt and Berlioz. Eventually adapted by O. Schlemm and set by Ján Levoslav Bella (premiere Slovak National Theatre, Bratislava, 28 April 1926)[46] [5][47]
086186A RheingoldDas Rheingold
English: The Rhine Gold
Bühnenfestspiel, Vorabend[T 3] 1 1853–54 1869-09-2222 September 1869 Munich, Hofoper First part of Der Ring des Nibelungen. First performance as part of complete Ring cycle: 13 August 1876, at Bayreuth Festspielhaus [49]
086286B WalküreDie Walküre
English: The Valkyrie
Bühnenfestspiel, erster Tag[T 4] 3 1854–56 1870-06-2626 June 1870 Munich, Hofoper Second part of Der Ring des Nibelungen. First performed as part of complete Ring cycle: 14 August 1876, at Bayreuth Festspielhaus [51]
089089 SiegerDie Sieger
English: The Victors
Oper? 1856 Unperformed Prose outline and music sketches for an opera on a Buddhist subject; some music may have been used in later works. [17][52][53]
090090 Tristan und Isolde
English: Tristan and Isolde
Handlung[T 5] 3 1857–59 1865-06-1010 June 1865 Munich, Hofoper Based in part on Gottfried von Strassburg's medieval epic, also believed to be an idealisation of Wagner's love for Mathilde Wesendonck [39][55][56]
096096 MeistersingerDie Meistersinger von Nürnberg
English: The Mastersingers of Nuremberg
Oper 3 1861–67 1868-06-2121 June 1868 Munich, Hofoper Wagner's only mature attempt at a comic opera, based on a draft originally written in 1845 [58][59]
099099 Luthers Hochzeit
English: Luther's Wedding
Oper? 1868 Unperformed A sketch play/libretto about Martin Luther and his decision to marry Katherina von Bora [35][60]
086386C Siegfried
Bühnenfestspiel, zweiter Tag[T 6] 3 1856–71 1876-08-1616 August 1876 Bayreuth Festspielhaus Third part of Der Ring des Nibelungen. The composition was interrupted for 12 years between 1857 and 1869. [39][62]
086486D Götterdämmerung
English: Twilight of the Gods
Bühnenfestspiel, dritter Tag[T 7] 3 1871–74 1876-08-1717 August 1876 Bayreuth Festspielhaus Fourth part of Der Ring des Nibelungen. [64]
1020102 KapitulationEine Kapitulation
English: A Capitulation
Lustspiel in antiker Manier[T 8] 1871 Unperformed A farce based on the siege of Paris, 1870. Wagner unsuccessfully asked Hans Richter to set it to music [65][66]
1110111 Parsifal
Bühnenweih­festspiel[T 9] 3 1877–82 1882-07-2626 July 1882 Bayreuth Festspielhaus Under an agreement between Wagner and King Ludwig, Parsifal was only to be performed at Bayreuth, "never desecrated by contact with any profane stage". [68][69]


  1. ^ "Tragic play"
  2. ^ "Heroic opera"
  3. ^ "Stage festival play, preliminary evening"
  4. ^ "Stage festival play, first day"
  5. ^ "Drama"
  6. ^ "Stage festival play, second day"
  7. ^ "Stage festival play, third day"
  8. ^ "Comedy in antique style"
  9. ^ "Consecrated stage festival play"

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Gutman. pp. 46–47
  2. ^ a b c d Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, p. 2 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  3. ^ a b Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, p. 4 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  4. ^ Osborne, p. 74
  5. ^ a b c d e Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, p. 6 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  6. ^ a b Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, pp. 7–8 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  7. ^ Kennedy, pp. 774–75
  8. ^ Gutman, p. 206
  9. ^ Osborne, p. 133
  10. ^ a b Gutman, pp. 48–49
  11. ^ Quoted in Gutman, p. 42
  12. ^ a b c Saffle, pp. 41–42
  13. ^ Gutman, pp. 41–44
  14. ^ Saffle, p. 221
  15. ^ Borchmeyer, p. 1
  16. ^ a b Wagner Rarities (2007), Retrieved 25 March 2009
  17. ^ a b c d e Saffle, pp. 220–21
  18. ^ Osborne, pp. 11–14
  19. ^ a b Pritchard, Jim (2007):Seen and Heard Opera Review: Wagner Rarities, MusicWeb International. Retrieved on 26 March 2009
  20. ^ Die Feen: Piano and vocal score K Ferd. Heckel, Mannheim 1888. Retrieved 5 April 2009
  21. ^ Osborne, p. 9
  22. ^ Das Liebesverbot: Piano and vocal score ed. Otto Singer. Breitkopf & Hartel, Leipzig 1922. Retrieved on 5 April 2009
  23. ^ Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, pp. 2–3 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy, pp. 2–3 Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  24. ^ Osborne. p. 25 and p. 40
  25. ^ a b Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, p. 3 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  26. ^ Borchmeyer, pp. 30–37
  27. ^ a b Gutman, p. 133
  28. ^ Advertised as the "British premiere", there is no record of a public performance anywhere before this British adaptation.
  29. ^ Borchmeyer, p. 45–46
  30. ^ Rienzi: Piano and vocal score ed. Gustav Kogel. Adolph Fürstner, Berlin 1910. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  31. ^ Osborne, p. 41
  32. ^ Die fliegende Holländer: Piano and vocal score eds John Troutbeck and Theodore Baker. G. Schirmer, New York 1897. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  33. ^ Osborne, p. 65, and pp. 74–82
  34. ^ Gutman, p. 137
  35. ^ a b c Richard Wagner (1996) in Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts Retrieved on 24 March 2009
  36. ^ Gutman, pp. 131–32
  37. ^ Tannhauser: Piano and vocal score arr. Karl Klindworth. G. Schirmer, New York, 1895. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  38. ^ Osborne, p. 83 and p. 88
  39. ^ a b c Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, p. 10 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  40. ^ Lohengrin: Piano and vocal score G. Schirmer, New York 1897. Retrieved on 6 April 2007
  41. ^ Osborne, p. 105 and pp. 106–13
  42. ^ Gutman, p. 158
  43. ^ Millington, Barry (Spring 2005):After the Revolution: The Ring in the Light of Wagner's Dresden and Zurich Projects, University of Toronto Quarterly, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. Retrieved on 31 March 2009
  44. ^ Gutman, pp. 177–78 and p. 268
  45. ^ Gutman, p. 193
  46. ^ Elschek(2003), p. 265
  47. ^ Gutman, pp. 193–203
  48. ^ Das Rheingold: Piano and vocal score arr. Karl Klindworth. B. Schott's Söhne, Mainz 1908. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  49. ^ Osborne, p. 179–180
  50. ^ Die Walküre: Piano and vocal score arr. Karl Klindworth. G Schirmer, New York (no date). Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  51. ^ Osborne, p. 180 and p. 201
  52. ^ Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, p. 9 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  53. ^ Bassett, p. 118
  54. ^ Tristan und Isolde: Full orchestral and vocal score ed. Felix Mottl. C.F. Peters, Leipzig 1912. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  55. ^ Osborne, p. 131
  56. ^ Gutman, p. 238
  57. ^ Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Piano and vocal score arr. Karl Klindworth. G. Schirmer, New York 1904. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  58. ^ Osborne, pp. 153–56 and p. 161
  59. ^ Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, p. 5 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  60. ^ Gutman, p. 402
  61. ^ Siegfried: Piano and vocal score arr. Karl Klindworth. G. Schirmer, New York 1900. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  62. ^ Osborne, p. 180 and p. 219
  63. ^ Götterdämmerung: Piano and vocal score arr. Karl Klindworth, G. Schirmer, New York 1900. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  64. ^ Osborne, p. 180 and p. 243
  65. ^ Gutman, p. 439
  66. ^ Millington, Barry (2001): (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, p. 12 in Grove Music Online, ed. Laura Macy. Retrieved on 20 March 2009
  67. ^ Parsifal: Piano and vocal score arr. Karl Klindworth, G. Schirmer, New York 1904. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  68. ^ Osborne, p. 263–65
  69. ^ Parsifal was not staged anywhere but in Bayreuth until 1903 at the New York Metropolitan Opera. Concert performances had been given in London (1884) and New York (1886). Gutman, p. 573

List of sources[edit]


Published scores[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Deathridge J., Geck M. and Voss E. (1986). Wagner Werk-Verzeichnis (WWV): Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke Richard Wagners und ihrer Quellen ("Catalogue of Wagner's Works: Catalogue of Musical Compositions by Richard Wagner and Their Sources"). Schott Musik International, Mainz, London, & New York. ISBN 978-3-7957-2201-2

External links[edit]