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The Wagner Operas

Newman, Ernest

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ISBN 10: 0691027161 / ISBN 13: 9780691027166
Published by Princeton University Press
New Condition: New Soft cover
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1991. Paperback. Discusses ten of Wagner's most beloved operas, illuminates their key themes and the myths and literary sources behind the librettos, and demonstrates how the composer's style changed from work to work. Num Pages: 744 pages, black & white illustrations. BIC Classification: AVGC9. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 232 x 155 x 40. Weight in Grams: 1130. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780691027166

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Wagner Operas

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:New

About this title


In this classic guide, the foremost Wagner expert of our century discusses ten of Wagner's most beloved operas, illuminates their key themes and the myths and literary sources behind the librettos, and demonstrates how the composer's style changed from work to work. Acclaimed as the most complete and intellectually satisfying analysis of the Wagner operas, the book has met with unreserved enthusiasm from specialist and casual music lover alike. Here, available for the first time in a single paperback volume, is the perfect companion for listening to, or attending, The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde, Die Meistersinger, the four operas of the Ring Cycle, and Parsifal. Newman enriches his treatment of the stories, texts, and music of the operas with biographical and historical materials from the store of knowledge that he acquired while completing his numerous books on Wagner, including the magisterial Life of Richard Wagner. The text of The Wagner Operas is filled with hundreds of musical examples from the scores, and all the important leitmotifs and their interrelationships are made clear in Newman's lucid prose. "This is as fine an introduction as any ever written about a major composer's masterpieces. Newman outlines with unfailing clarity and astuteness each opera's dramatic sources, and he takes the student through the completed opera, step by step, with all manner of incidental insight along the way."--Robert Bailey, New York University


Ernest Newman's study of the major Wagner operas (from Der fliegende Holländer onwards) was originally published in 1949 and rapidly achieved the status of a classic opera text, which it retains to this day. There are plenty of other, differing treatments of the stories of the operas, but none as detailed or as dramatically aware as Newman's magisterial volume. Of course, the reprint does not contain information about the composer and his works that would later come to light, nor does it traffic in current modes of thought about the operas (in some cases, thankfully). What Newman does is begin with a history of the myth or the tales on which each opera is based, widening that out to a discussion of Wagner's interest in the story, his involvement with its genesis, and an account of how the work in question was created and first produced. Since in some cases this gestation took years, Newman's clear explication does much to lift the mists surrounding even the simplest of Wagner's operas. He then discusses each opera in detail. The plethora of musical examples and Newman's understanding of Wagner's use of the leitmotif ensure that his readings are responsive both to the histrionic and musical aspects of the stories.

Reading the details of the often complex backgrounds of the operas, as well as what goes on in the opera itself (the discussion of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg alone runs to more than 110 pages of text), should immeasurably enrich the listener's opera-going experience, even in this age of the surtitle. And an appreciation of the range and cogency of Wagner's musical and dramatic genius, which this book offers, will serve to balance the unflattering portrait of Wagner the human being that dominates today's thinking about the Master. --Patrick J. Smith

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