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Wagner's Ring: Turning the Sky Around. An Introduction to The Ring of the Nibelung
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Wagner's Ring: Turning the Sky Around. An Introduction to The Ring of the Nibelung

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  129 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Commentary on and a concise, lucid interpretation of the opera world's most complex masterwork, expanded from the author's popular intermission talks during Met Opera broadcasts. Anyone, whether knowledgeable or not, will profit by reading it... - Opera Quarterly
Paperback, 120 pages
Published November 11th 1994 by Limelight Editions (first published May 31st 1990)
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Don Cummer
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a tardis of a book: very small in size but it contains a universe within. Owen Lee does a masterful job of summarizing Wagner's Ring Cycle, providing the background of how Wagner put together his masterpiece, and exploring various interpretations of what it all means -- including his own regarding the evolution of human consciousness. For those dipping their toe into the operas for the first time, or those who want to expand their understanding, this is a great book to get you thinking.
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fabulous introduction if you ever go see the full Ring cycle, oh I don't know right after you've been to Africa for two weeks and you're jet lagged AF.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I live in Seattle. Seattle produces Wagner's entire Ring Cycle every 4 year. It is a world-class production which draws patrons from all 50 states and 22 foreign countries. It's always breath-taking and wonderful. It's one of the reasons I moved to Seattle.

The marvelous thing is that there is always something new to hear or learn about the Ring. Just when you think you've got it, you hear something new, or a line of "dialogue" sets you off on a thinking expedition.

I refuse to be a "Wagnerite" w
Tom Emanuel
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, philosophy
This slim volume by noted Wagner expert, classics scholar, and Catholic priest M. Owen Lee packs a serious punch. I read it shortly after seeing Der Ring des Nibelungen (and Tristan & Isolde!) for the first time at the Deutsches Nationaltheater in Weimar in 2011, and it served as an ideal, highly readable introduction to Wagner's world. Invoking George Bernard Shaw, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell, among many others, in little more than 100 packed pages, Owen Lee sheds much light on the mythi ...more
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I've noticed that commentary on the Ring cycle tends to stick to a pretty traditional interpretation of the operas: the Ring saga as a metaphor for nineteenth century industrialization. I liked that this series of essays - based on a radio broadcast - delve into the psychological and metaphysical aspects of the Ring cycle. With references everywhere from Kant to Nietzsche to Kubrick, this book is a solid introduction to some substantive scholarship on what was going through Wagner's mind when he ...more
Kathy  Petersen
Okay, I admit it: I'm very much ignorant about opera. I merely sit there and totally absorb the magnificence of it. That is especially true of Wagner's Ring Cycle, when a few years ago I attended Chicago's Lyric Opera presentation of the cycle. Both before and after that incredible experience, I have been trying to educate myself.

Lee's book is quite wonderful in its simplicity, offering an introduction that true aficionados with a snobbish bent may disparage. For the rest of us, it's valuable a
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This was an incredible book, especially for anyone who feels the power of the music of Wagner's Ring. And for such a short book, just about 100 pages, it got the job done more efficiently than other lengthy, exhaustive books. Wait, there's more: The book includes reasonable synopsis of the 4 operas, and there is tremendous value in the reviews and descriptions of other books on the Ring (Further Reading), and if THAT were not enough, there is also a list of Recordings, and finally, an index ...more
Charles Pearce
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow, was this wonderful! In the very last part, Lee talks about the various characters symbolizing aspects of humanity. Like Spock and Bones with Kirk. Then Lee compares the overall assessment being a lot like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Wow again!
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an excellent explanation of the philosophical and psychological themes in The Ring of the Nibelung operas. It is brief and easy to understand, and a wonderful companion for viewing the operas.
Jan 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Listen to the opera (or parts), read the book, go back and listen, then read again. I'm starting to think I like learning about The Ring more than I like listening to it.
Useful, beginner-level book. Possibly a little too slim.
Matthew Hodge
Nov 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard-copy, music
If you want a good easy-to-read but in-depth look at the Ring Cycle, this is not a bad book to start with. Just enough of the stuff that you need to know without becoming tedious. And Lee's enthusiasm for the cycle is highly infectious.
Chris Lira
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Finally finished watching all 4 operas, then reread this book in its entirety. The plot synopses were helpful, but some of the deep psychological analysis was a bit boring.
Jake Cooper
Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reference
+ : bite-sized book, nice synopses, decent music pointers, all-around unintimidating
- : the ~70% of interpretation based on Jung and Freud (which I find outdated and silly)
Oct 30, 2015 added it
Some valid insights, but ultimately bogged down by too much pop-psychology. Quoting the author (Who's apparently citing Freud): sometimes a cigar is only a cigar.
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
A well-rounded, pleasurable read on Wager’s Ring Cycle.
Alethea Hammer
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a really fabulous little book if you like Wagner. However, I don't recommend it for those who haven't seen The Ring performed as least once.
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Short but sensible guide to the Ring. Has the best synopsis of the plots I have read.
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has a chance to see the Ring
Clear and engaging description and interpretation of the Ring Cycle. Very helpful.
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