Richard Wagner 1850-1880
Developments in Opera
A towering visionary and cult figure-reviled by some, worshipped by others
- Wagner revolutionizes Western art.
His lengthy operas combine mythology, psychosexual undertones, spirituality,
and overwhelmingly emotional music.
He composes music that grows organically and doesn't distinguish between
arias, duets, and ensembles.
Tristan and Isolde:
The tale of frustrated lovers
who achieve the ultimate union by dying for love. Arguably the most important
opera ever written, Wagner's masterpiece paved the way for modern art.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Master Singers of Nuremberg):
In the process of recounting a love story, Wagner's only comedy manages to
illustrate art's need for new ideas and respect for older values. Its shoemaker
Hans Sachs is one of opera's wisest and best-loved characters.
The Ring of the Nibelung: The Ring is a mythic, four-opera
saga about a world of gods, dwarves, giants, dragons, and everyday humans all
fighting for possession of a magic golden ring. Its operas (Das Rheingold,
Die Walküre, Siegfried, and GötterdŠmmerung) can total over 16 hours in length.