Step into the Ring! Wagner’s Ring Cycle iPad app is aimed at anyone with an interest in Wagner’s monumental operatic achievement Der Ring des Nibelungen (‘The Ring of the Nibelung’). With its particular recording and publishing expertise, Naxos is perfectly placed to celebrate Richard Wagner’s anniversary year with this groundbreaking app.
Comprising four separate operas, Wagner’s visionary Der Ring des Nibelungen took 25 years to complete. Centred around a ring of power and the attempts of various people to acquire it, the Ring cycle explores the relationship between love and earthly power and the themes of yearning and loss, all within a setting of medieval legend.
Whether you are intimately acquainted with the cycle or a newcomer to it, you can enjoy a clearly and beautifully presented outline of the work’s so-called ‘leitmotifs’. These musical calling-cards are woven in a sophisticated web throughout all four operas – Das Rheingold (‘The Rhinegold’), DieWalküre (‘The Valkyrie’), Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (‘Twilight of the Gods’): here is the chance to get to grips with them, refresh your memory, and enhance your listening experience.
Of course the Ring is about more than motif-spotting, and there is plenty of background material here as well:
The prologue Das Rheingold deals with the theft and subsequent surrender of the ring forged from the Rhinegold by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich. The Independent described its 2002 production of Das Rheingold as ‘clever, witty... wellsung (with Esa Ruuttunen outstanding as Alberich) and expressively conducted by Lothar Zagrosek’.
The second part, Die Walküre, tells the story of the meeting of Siegmund and Sieglinde, children of Wotan, and the death of Siegmund through Wotan’s unwilling intervention. ‘Lothar Zagrosek offers a masterclass in the art of swift but sonorous Wagnerian conducting.’ The Independent, January 2004.
The third opera of the cycle, Siegfried, deals with the life of the young hero, his release from the evil dwarf Mime, who has nurtured him for his own ends, his killing of the dragon Fafner, and his braving of the surrounding flames to wake the Valkyrie Brünnhilde from her enchanted sleep. ‘Lothar Zagrosek’s shaping of the score is unerringly vivid.’ BBC Music Magazine, June 2004.
The fourth opera of the cycle, Götterdämmerung, brings the betrayal and death of the young hero Siegfried and of his beloved Brünnhilde. The ring itself is restored to the Rhinemaidens, and the age of gods and heroes ends, as Valhalla burns. Stuttgart State Opera has been voted Opera Theatre of the Year six times by critics in Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
Wagner’s Ring cycle is the most ambitious work in the history of music: four operas that combine to tell a single epic story. Based in legend, it has become a legend in its own right: a supreme challenge for conductors, singers, opera producers, and indeed for audiences. But for all its grandeur and complexity, The Ring is far more accessible than many music lovers think. This two-disc guide explains the basics of the plot, profiles the leading characters, and shows how Wagner’s revolutionary music adds fascinating layers of meaning and psychological insight, as well as providing some of the most stirring and intoxicating moments in the entire operatic repertoire.