An Unhelpful Guide to Wagner’s Ring

The Social Historian

Perhaps there should be a rule that Historically Important Works of Art should be nice and short.

Mozart knew this when he was writing dinky little tunes for tight-wearing Austrians with miniature attention spans. Alfred Hitchcock knew it too, famously quipping that no film should last longer than the capacity of a human bladder.

Richard Wagner, however, was having none of this. He was a man of the passionate belief that operas should be long, they should have fewer tunes, and way more helmets.

Nowhere was his fetishisation of the frickin’ enormous more in evident than his notorious Ring Cycle. It’s a corpulent tale of magic, gods and goddesses, heroes, dwarves and helmets. It’s so long and German you could fry it in cooking oil and call it a sausage. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan. But seriously dude, enough with the notes.

The trouble is, it’s also…

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