Theory Thursday

The local PBS station (which seems to be very good) has been showing the Metropolitan Opera’s most recent production of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Tonight is opera number three, Siegfried.

As most of you music types know, Wagner was a big fan of the Leitmotiv, or motive connected to a person, place, thing or concept. The Ring uses tons of these, but they’re probably used to the fullest in Tristan und Isolde. Like a development section, the interaction of the Leitmotivs with each other show the evolution of the plot and of the characters. Many theorists and musicologists have charted these motives; I encourage the reader to seek out some analyses.

WF

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