Nothing can prepare you for the Ring. Its sublime textures, its dark passages, and its climactic final moments leave one exhausted and spent. In this groundbreaking work John L. DiGaetani succeeds in exploring what it takes to - literally - penetrate the Ring.
Wagner was a man of filthy personal habits and ate a very poor diet. He was grouchy and sometimes didn't leave his bed for days and days, even to wash. A lot of people think that this is why his Ring grew into something so enormous and troublesome. DiGaetani argues a contrary view: that the unmanagible size of Wagner's Ring is an act of Will - that it was the ultimate expression of Wagner's attempt to obliterate all that had gone before him that drove him to such excesses as inserting swords, helmets, anvils, speers and a giant worm into his Ring. The end result, argues DiGaetani, is a structure which although circular, runs red with blood and gives both seering pain and intense pleasure.
For me the greatest achievement of this book is the long section wherein the author gives guidance on how the Ring can be relevant to audiences today. In one passage guiding us through the subtext of Siegfried's death (he is impailed in the back by the rough and burly Hagen) he quite literally brings the viewer to the point of wishing to BE Siegfried and to die as that hero died, in a state of unqualified adoration and radiant bliss.
I would recommend this book for more serious Wagner scholars, as much of the material takes for granted an understanding of the structure, form, and perceived limits of those many layers of ancient sentiment which subconsciously adhere to the many inner recesses of this epic and awful work whose cavernous chambers lie hidden from the uninitiated. To penetrate the Ring prematurely would lead to a raw and ungratifying experience.