9780714540405 / 0714540404

Siegfried: English National Opera Guide 28 (English National Opera Guides)


Publisher:Oneworld Classics



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About the book:

In the third of Wagner's four Ring operas, we meet the loutish young hero, Siegfried, a muscular boor who knows no fear, and Mime, the dwarf who has reared him since the boy's mother, Sieglinde, died in childbirth. Mime is the brother of Alberich (the evil dwarf who set the events of the Ring in motion by stealing the gold of the Rhinemaidens and forging the eponymous ring of power), and extreme unpleasantness seems to be a family trait. Mime wants Siegfried to kill Fafner--the former giant turned dragon--to get his hoard, which includes the ring, after which he plans to poison the youth. Siegfried kills the dragon, but by inadvertently licking some of the beast's blood from his hand, finds he can discover the language of birds. An avian promptly advises him to watch out for Mime--and Siegfried discovers he can hear Mime's evil thoughts. Siegfried kills the dwarf, pockets the ring and the shape-shifting Tarnhelm, and goes off to Brunnhilde's mountaintop. There he breaks his grandfather Wotan's spear, marches through the flames, and wins himself a bride fit for a hero.

This translation beautifully captures Wagner's sometimes impenetrable poetry. The intent, says Rudolph Sabor, is "to provide the reader and singer with a libretto which does not sound like a translation, but rather like the text Wagner might have written had he been born not in Leipzig but in London." Sabor succeeds, and also provides the reader with other useful information, including suggested recordings, side notes on the action, and a key to the leitmotifs that are so essential to understanding the Ring operas.

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