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Keith Hewson
Music Teacher International, July 2003

Naxos' Introduction to Wagner CD is one of nine in an 'opera explained' series, that introduces, in words and music, the plot and background of major operas. A complete recording of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman is available as a two-CD set from Naxos and this CD uses the principal themes and arias take from the Naxos recording of the complete work. The end result is a totally entertaining piece that would be most suitable for use with CGSE and AS students. The informative text, brilliantly researched and written by Thomson Smillie, is delivered superbly by narrator David Timson.

Tracks 1 to 3 focus on Wagner himself, his importance in the history and development of opera, a brief biographical outline of his life, and extracts from other Wagner operas that offer the listener an opportunity to sample and appreciate his style. No introduction to opera would be complete without a mention of the Ring, and track 4 delivers enough information to make the student want to research more on the subject. Track 5 introduces the basic ingredients of the Dutchman, through detailed and precise explanations of leitmotifs, Norse and Germanic myths, not forgetting love.

Tracks 6 to 13 focus on the Flying Dutchman itself from the plot and the overture to Act 3 and the denouement. I truly hope that many students who listen to this CD may want to take the next important step, which of course is to see a live performance.

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