Wagner’s Ring

I was scrolling through the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Education’s website to look at its list of offerings when I saw a class offered on Wagner’s Ring. It’s a continuation of the class offered last fall, and looks at Wagner’s operas and the influences he has had on others. Sounded intriguing, so I registered for the 10-week course.

So far, I’ve been to two sessions (missed the first because I was in France), and it’s been fascinating. We’ve watched documentaries on other composers (Stravinsky, Mahler, Bartok), learnt about how they matched up with Wagner, listened to pieces the professor played for us in the subterranean rooms within the Gleacher Center, and of course watched snippets of the Ring. My favorite production so far is the Levine version (the old one, not Lepage’s), because it is the most literal. The Copenhagen piece is interesting and sort of works, but the Sttugart one is just simply painful to watch. We’ve only seen bits of the first act of Siegfried, but the title character is a complete hilly billy bore it’s impossible to see him as a heroic figure. I’m so repulsed that I actually kind of want to see how he pulls off kissing Brunnhilde for the first time!

Anyhow, it’s been a great learning experience and I’m glad to get a deeper appreciation for these German composers (though I would be ecstatic if he offers a class focused on the Italians). There aren’t any homework or assignments, but the professor has given me a long list of reading that I definitely want to dig into once the CFA is over and done with!


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