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‘The Flying Dutchman’ Initially a one-act opera, Der Fliegende Holländer was later expanded to three. Wagner was anxious to make sure it was performed in the way he wished, and wrote detailed production notes for the directors and singers. He also conducted the first performance at the Hofoper or Court Opera in Dresden on 2 January 1843. Although Wagner ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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Wagner’s Ring cycle is made up of four works – Das Rheingold (‘The Rhinegold’, 1851–54), Die Walküre (‘The Valkyrie’, 1851–56), Siegfried (1851–57; 1864–71) and Götterdämmerung (‘Twilight of the Gods’, 1848–52; 1869–74). Although there have been other, even more ambitious projects in the history of opera – Rutland Boughton’s cycle of choral dramas based on the Arthurian legends and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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‘The Mastersingers of Nuremberg’ Die Meistersinger has often been described as a comedy. This, though, is not ‘comedy’ as found in the operas of Rossini or in Verdi’s Falstaff: what ‘comedy’ means in this context is the bitter ‘human comedy’. The premiere of Die Meistersinger took place in Munich on 21 June 1868. Wagner based his opera on the real-life ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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Act I A storm rages. Siegmund enters a forest cottage and collapses. Sieglinde offers him refreshment. She persuades him to stay and meet her husband Hunding, who arrives and is suspicious. Siegmund reveals that his mother and sister were abducted and that he and his father were separated. Earlier that day he fought to rescue a girl from a forced ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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Franz Liszt, the great Hungarian composer whose daughter Cosima married Wagner in 1870, conducted the first performance of the three-act opera Lohengrin at the Court Theatre, Weimar on 28 August 1850. Wagner provided a blueprint for productions of Lohengrin, just as he did for Tannhäuser, and emphasized the duty of the stage manager not to leave ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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Wagner had first encountered the early thirteenth-century romance Parzivâl by Wolfram von Eschenbach (c. 1170–c. 1220) in 1845 and frequently returned to the subject in the course of the decades that followed, completing the libretto in 1877 and the music in 1882. By now his views had changed, and the text and its imagery are permeated by the Aryan ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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The Rhinemaidens, who guard the magic gold hidden beneath the waters of the Rhine, are approached by Alberich, a Nibelung dwarf. They tease him mercilessly and, unwisely, reveal that if someone were prepared to renounce love and fashion a ring from the gold, he would acquire the power to dominate the world. Failing to woo ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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Act I The act opens in Mime’s smithy, in a forest near where Fafner, now a dragon thanks to the tarnhelm, lives in a cave guarding his treasure. Years before, Sieglinde sheltered there and, dying, entrusted her child and the broken sword to Mime’s care. He has raised Siegfried as his son, hoping to ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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The full title of this opera in three acts is Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg (‘Tannhäuser and the Song Contest on the Wartburg’). Wagner, who took nearly three years to write the opera, conducted the first performance at the Dresden Hofoper on 19 October 1845. This was the first of two Wagner operas in which a song contest ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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Prologue Erda’s daughters, the Norns, sit on a rock spinning the rope of destiny. They recall recent events but are unable to see the future, since the rope has frayed. The rope beaks and they return under the earth. Siegfried prepares to set off. He gives Brünnhilde the ring and she gives him her horse, Grane. Act ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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Wagner’s music drama Tristan und Isolde, written between 1856 and 1859 and first produced at the Hof- und Nationaltheater in Munich on 10 June 1865, broke the established mould of opera and took it to the threshold of ‘modern’ music. Tristan was based on an Arthurian legend, and featured a regular theme in Wagner’s operas – the plight ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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1813–83, German If – to quote Mark Twain – Wagner’s music ‘is not as bad as it sounds’, then the composer’s life was by no means as turpitudinous as it is generally claimed to be. Idolized by his friends and supporters as a family man who was kind to animals and plagued by self-doubts, he was demonized by his ...

Source: Definitive Opera Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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(Rich’-ärd Varg’-na) 1813–83 German composer Wagner is one of the most influential and controversial composers in the history of classical music. He was born in Leipzig and educated there and in Dresden. His later years were spent in Bayreuth, the home of the festival theatre and the yearly summer festival he founded, which still flourish today. The idea of Bayreuth ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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Veteran Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards (b. 1943) was born in Dartford, Kent. After being expelled from technical school in 1958, Richards attended Sidcup Art College. The art-school environment was crucial to Richards’ development, as it was for many of his generation. Here he was able to nurture his passion for rhythm and blues, finding many fellow ...

Source: Rock Guitar Heroes, consultant editor Rusty Cutchin
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In his 40-year career as an award-winning songwriter, guitarist and musician’s musician, Richard Thompson (b. 1949) has won fans for his work as an original member of Fairport Convention, as part of a duo with former wife Linda Thompson and as a solo artist. His songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris ...

Source: Rock Guitar Heroes, consultant editor Rusty Cutchin
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