Saturday afternoon, June 9th at NOON
Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” based on Norse mythology, is an extraordinary mini-series of four operas, taking opera to a new level. It is considered to be the greatest work of art ever written. “Ring” lovers from around the world travel to see this amazing work at the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, Germany (Wagner’s own opera house), where it continues to be performed each summer. Today “Ring Cycles” are regularly being performed throughout the United States, shown in their entirety in movie theaters, on television and on YouTube from opera houses around the world.
“The Ring” includes gods, goddesses, Rhinemaidens, Valkyries, dwarfs, a dragon, a gold ring, a magic sword, a magic Tarnhelm, magic fire, and much more. It also includes greed, love, incest, punishment, betrayal and murder. It is an extraordinary work of art, taking opera to a new level. Come with an open mind and you will be swept away by the sheer magnitude of the performance, along with the most extraordinary music on earth.
This course, “An Introduction to Wagner’s Ring,” is intended for those who have never experienced a “Ring Cycle,” or who have felt too intimidated by its length, complexity and cost to attend a live performance. It is also for those already familiar with “The Ring” who want to delve a bit more deeply into the story, the music, the characters and the leitmotifs.
Phyllis Neumann has taught this course many times, speaking in a language that is easy to understand, as well as entertaining. She includes audio and video excerpts through PowerPoint to demonstrate the story of the Ring and the meaning of its music. She incorporates Arthur Rackham’s famous “Ring” illustrations, as well as photographs from various “Ring” productions, to help narrate the synopsis. Using her exclusive “Leitmotif Guide” she breaks down the main leitmotifs (musical themes) so that you can better understand the complexity of Wagner’s music.
Class Schedule. Each class will begin at NOON with a pot-luck and socializing. Please bring a dish that you would like to share. Unlike our usual schedule we will begin the PowerPoint presentation at 1:00, running about 2 hours in length. After a short break, one of the four “Ring” operas from the Metropolitan Opera’s 2011 production (a couple lasting over 5 hours) will be presented in its entirety. Prepare for a very long but exciting day. A delicious pot-luck will be available throughout the day for your nourishment. (Occasional napping is understandable, but snoring is not permitted).
June 9th — Introduction to Wagner’s “Ring Cycle.” This class discusses Wagner himself, his contribution to music, as well as the history and background of “The Ring.” You will also get to understand the leitmotifs (musical themes) that make this music so complex. There will be a showing of “Wagner’s Dream,” a documentary introducing the Met’s 2011 production. This video introduces the singers and describes the evolution of “The Machine,” the creative state-of-the-art staging. (2 hours, no intermission)
June 23rd — Das Rheingold. The first opera in the “Ring Cycle,” is considered to be the “Prologue” to the next three operas. It is the story of the creation of the ring and the introduction of the gods to Valhalla. Through the use of PowerPoint this opera and the three that follow delve into the complex story, as well as the emotional conflicts in the main characters. The complexity of the music is also illustrated by listening to and understanding many of the “leitmotifs” associated with the music. (2½ hours, no intermission)
July 7th — Die Walküre. The second opera in the “Ring Cycle,” is the story of the love between the Wälsung twins, Sigmund and Sieglinde, as well as the father-daughter relationship of Wotan and Brünnhilde. This opera is considered to be the most romantic (and most beloved) of the four operas and includes some of the most glorious music in the entire “Ring Cycle.” (4½ hours + two intermissions)
July 21st — Siegfried. The third opera in the “Ring Cycle,” is the education of Siegfried, the child of Sigmund and Sieglinde. This opera is packed with action, and even adds some comic relief. Here you will learn how to forge a sword, slay a dragon, understand a bird and wake a sleeping woman. (5 hours + two intermissions)
August 4th — Götterdämmerung. The final opera in the “Ring Cycle,” is the original story of Siegfried leading to his death. It is the most complex of the four and ends with an extraordinary finale. “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.” A special German pot-luck will be provided. (5½ hours + two intermissions)
August 18th — A Tribute to Wagner. This last class pulls it all together. It includes videos of Anna Russell’s legendary and hilarious satire, “Analysis of the Ring,” along with “Sing Faster: The Stagehand’s Ring,” an entertaining backstage look at the making of the 1990 San Francisco “Ring.” You will also get to see the prank played on Birgit Nilsson as she sang “The Immolation Scene,” as well as listen to some of Wagner’s glorious music. A special German dinner will be provided. (3 hours)
Everyone attending the course will receive a certificate of completion, reading, “I Survived ‘The Ring.’”
Suggested donation for each class: $10-20 per person
Drop-ins are always welcome.
For a great one-hour introduction, please listen to:
The Ring and I: The Passion, the Myth, the Mania
before attending the first class in June.
Opera Schedule 2017-18
2nd Saturday of the month
Pot-luck and socializing: 12:00-2:00 p.m.
Opera starts promptly at 2:00 p.m.
“Carmen” by George Bizet
Starring Elina Garanča and Roberto Alagna
“Cavalleria Rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni
Starring Plácido Domingo and Elena Obraztsova
“Pagliacci” by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Starring Plácido Domingo, Teresa Stratas and Juan Pons
“The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini
Starring Kathleen Battle, Rockwell Blake and Leo Nucci
“Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II
Starring Kiri Te Kanawa and Hermann Prey; conducted by Plácido Domingo
“Cinderella” by Alma Deutscher
Opera San José in San Jose, California
“Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss
Starring Kiri Te Kanawa, Aage Haugland, Anne Howells and Barbara Bonney
“Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini
Starring Plácido Domingo, Eva Marton and Leona Mitchell
An Introduction to Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”
(This begins our Summer Season six-week course on Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.)