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Penetrating Wagner's "Ring" (Da Capo Paperback) [Paperback]

John L. DiGaetani
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1991 Da Capo Paperback
Wagner's Ring cycle - "The Ring of the Niebelung" - has been described as one of the most enduring of operatic spectacles. This collection has brought together writings on the Ring and includes articles by George Bernard Shaw, Georg Solti and Andrew Porter, excerpts from Wagner's own letters and works and discourses by over 30 other writers. Covered is the tetralogy of the Ring - "Das Rheingold", "Die Walkuere", "Siegfried" and "Goetterdaemmerung" - in essays on Wagner's intention, the theory behind it, its interpretation, artistic backgrounds, historical influences, literary sources, musical architecture, modern stagings, the "Ring" in English and various styles of performance. The book is designed to serve as an introduction to the "Ring" as well as a companion to fans and performers of Wagner's operas.

Product details

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc; New edition edition (April 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306804379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306804373
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
204 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly satisfying 12 Jun 2008
Previous explorations of Wagner's vast Ring piece have been unfulfilling, but Di Gaetani is unafraid to thrust deeply and energetically into this dark and forbidding cavern. A highly satisfying exploration leading the reader to a positively biblical understanding of Wagner's Ring.
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117 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Deep, Dark, Vicious" - G.B. Shaw on The Ring 14 April 2010
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.
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94 of 106 people found the following review helpful
By OllyL
My girlfriend and I have often talked about how we could tackle the Ring, but neither of us were ever brave enough to take the plunge. It always seemed too daunting - many of our more flamboyant of friends had tried it, and said it just didn't do anything for them. Only once, after a few too many glasses of red wine did I surprise my girlfriend by slipping it in to our regular playlist, and this all ended in tears, and we were both left feeling very confused.

So imagine our delight when finally the door was opened to us by this fantastic book, and we could finally begin the beautiful (if at times harrowing) journey of penetrating such a tightly structured work. Not only had the author clearly been as nervous as us both in his earlier, less experienced years, but he used this experience to take us both by the hand (metaphorically of course!), and slowly guide us in, starting with the opening gentle movements, and moving to the deeply satisfying conclusion.

What's surprised us both is how this pleasure was not shortlived. My girlfriend and I seem able to return to the ring again and again, and if anything it just gets more intense every time.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful to take 23 Jun 2009
I was largely disappointed with this book. 'Penetrating Wagner's Ring' is by no means an easy feat to accomplish and the author's foray into this dark world is, at times, painfully received. There appears to be little thought given to approach, stabbing relentlessly at ideas in an attempt to cram in as much as possible.
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71 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic text on a classic piece 9 Oct 2008
After so many years of tentative and superficial studies that barely begin to enter the deep and satisfying world of Wagner's Ring, it's fantastic to read a book that's unafraid to go straight to the bottom of it. Di Gaetani situates the Ring within its entire cultural context, even discussing the gross abuse meted out to it by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in the classic Looney Tunes cartoon. Common criticisms of the piece revolve around the contention that large stretches of leitmotiv render the piece rather flaccid, making it difficult for Wagner to take the listener to a successful climax. Di Gaetani rips apart these arguments, showing how the sensitive listener can luxuriate in the Ring for the full fifteen hours without it losing its delicate structure. In an epilogue, the author notes the vastly increased freedom that composers have found after being shown the example of Wagner's Ring and the thousands of enthusiastic fans that have spent a lifetime enjoying it. Highly recommended.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total Immersion in Wagner's Ring 16 Sep 2009
This is a compilation of writings by those who have been touched and, in many cases, deeply affected by Wagner's Ring. Writings from the composer himself reveal his intense desire to challenge society with his Ring piece, along with his more ambitious aim to use it to lure foreign audiences. The book deals with all aspects of the Ring, from its tightness of structure through to its darker, more deeply concealed elements. Bravo to these talented writers for opening up Wagner's Ring on the international stage and helping us all to enjoy it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider me penetrated 6 May 2012
It's rare a book lives up to the hype, but this volume is worth every penny. I could spend hours listing its many qualities but the cover alone justifies the purchase. Where else could you find Gandalf, Mark Pickford and Darth Vader all together, all at once? And if that doesn't tell you enough about the kind of art of which Wagner was capable, their expressions as they get their first glimpse of his Ring, fresh from it's cycle, tells you everything you need to know.

A perfect gift, especially for eldery relatives or the very young.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Very hard.
I found this very hard-going indeed at first but I think I approached this from the wrong angle. Penetrating Wagner's ring is not for the beach nor is it one for last thing at... Read more
Published 2 months ago by JD
5.0 out of 5 stars -----
Before penetrating fully into Wagner's Ring, I would suggest gently fingering through so as to become properly acquainted. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Joshua Claxton
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
Having mastered the intricacies of 50 Shades of Grey I felt Penetrating Wagners Ring was a further step towards gaining a greater understanding of the German approach. Read more
Published 5 months ago by karen rowley
5.0 out of 5 stars A rough ride
Starts off hard to get into then when you finally start getting somewhere its all over leaving you felling the need for a shower.
5* for at least being game enough to do it.
Published 5 months ago by Gavin Heggs
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark and steamy read
One of the mysterious rings I have always been intrigued by is Wagners. Now Mr DiGaetani has penetrated it in glorious detail for all of us to enjoy and observe. Read more
Published 6 months ago by A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Hacked is a story for our times.
Very filmic novel, could see this successfully translate to tv, loved the fast pace and the friendship between the two very strong female characters. Read more
Published 9 months ago by margaret murray
4.0 out of 5 stars A reassuring guiding hand through what can be a daunting rite of...
Like others here I have often found myself wondering about the Ring and wondering if I could ever get into it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Rgh1066
1.0 out of 5 stars anca's story
This is the worst book I have read the topic is of great interest to me however the authors use of highly complicated and unnecessary words to try and describe and tell the story... Read more
Published 12 months ago by David H
1.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
Despite my best efforts, i just could not get into it!

An real anti-climax in my opinion. I honestly thought it would be easier to approach.
Published 16 months ago by stuart cunningham
5.0 out of 5 stars So wrong, but so right...
I dipped my toe into Wagner's Ring as my first foray into the void. Needless to say, I was immediately gripped by the sudden, and all-encompassing gulf into which I had allowed... Read more
Published 17 months ago by RingTacular
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