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Wagner's Ring Cycle and the Greeks

£69.99

Part of Cambridge Studies in Opera

  • Date Published: February 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521517393

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About the Authors
  • Through his reading of primary and secondary classical sources, as well as his theoretical writings, Richard Wagner developed a Hegelian-inspired theory linking the evolution of classical Greek politics and poetry. This book demonstrates how, by turning theory into practice, Wagner used this evolutionary paradigm to shape the music and the libretto of the Ring cycle. Foster describes how each of the Ring's operas represents a particular phase of Greek poetic and political development: Das Rheingold and Die Walküre create epic national identity in its earlier and later stages respectively; Siegfried expresses lyric personal identity; and Götterdämmerung destructively culminates with a tragi-comedy about civic identity. This study sees the Greeks through the lens of those scholars whose work influenced Wagner most, focusing on epic, lyric, and comedy, as well as Greek tragedy. Most significantly, the book interrogates the ways in which Wagner uses Greek aesthetics to further his own ideological goals.

    • Includes extensive and well-documented lists of all classical primary and secondary sources that it can be proved Wagner knew
    • Each section begins with a thorough analysis of three of the most important poetic genres in the West: epic, lyric, and drama
    • Addresses in detail Wagner's theoretical works, which are infamously difficult and confusing
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A highly recommended addition to any Wagnerite's library' Classical Music

    'This is a book full of stimulus for classicists, historians and musicologists alike.' Teresa Morgan, The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521517393
    • length: 398 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.77kg
    • contains: 14 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    Introduction
    Part I. Epic:
    1. Introduction: what is epic?
    2. Retrospective narrative and the epic process
    3. The orchestral narrator and elementary epic
    4. Spiritual and factual realities in epic
    Part II. Lyric:
    5. Introduction: what is lyric?
    6. Orpheus and lyric liberation
    7. First-person opera and lyric identity
    8. Lyric and the rebirth of tragedy
    Part III. Drama:
    9. Introduction: what is drama?
    10. Opera and tragedy
    11. Opera and comedy
    12. Resolution and ambiguity in comedy and tragedy
    Epilogue: Time, the Ring, and performance studies
    Appendices: Wagner's primary and secondary sources: Introduction
    Appendix A. Wagner's primary sources
    Appendix B. secondary scholarship by authors Wagner knew personally
    Appendix C. Secondary scholarship by authors Wagner knew by reputation or by reading
    Bibliography.

  • Author

    Daniel H. Foster, Duke University, North Carolina
    Daniel H. Foster is Assistant Professor of Theater Studies at Duke University, and Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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