Der Ring, der nie gelungen: A Leitmotiv guide

the Norns argue about Wagner in the Copenhagen Ring

Robert Lepage says it’s the score-toting masses who have doomed his Ring. But a score is a bulky thing to bring along (and also a little useless, because it’s dark). What the efficient Wagner fan really needs is a pocket-sized Leitmotiv cheat sheet to consult beforehand. I’ve always wanted one, so I made one myself. It isn’t comprehensive but contains a good number of motives and, if you’ve never seriously studied the Ring, is more than enough to get you started (provided you can read music).

You can download it as a PDF here (go to File and “Download”). It is designed to be printed two-sided on US letter-sized paper (though it will work OK with A4) and folded in half to form a booklet, which is why the pages appear to be out of order. If you’re a Wagner novice, you should also read this introduction to how the motives function, and you can listen to them here.
If you’re an experienced Wagnerian you’ll probably find this handbook
too simplistic, but it still has the virtue of easy portability.

Email me if you find any egregious errors (I’m not promising there aren’t any), and enjoy. Print it out just to piss Lepage off, though he won’t be in the house tomorrow night. And don’t say I never gave you anything.

If you want to look for me at or after Rheingold tomorrow, I’ll be identifiable in the Family Circle standing section by my tasteful BAYREUTH BAYREUTH BAYREUTH tote bag. Since there’s no intermission, we might have to go to Valhalla afterwards. No, I’m serious, one really should go to Valhalla after Rheingold. It’s only logical. (The weird 8:30 curtain time precludes much time out for me, though.)

Preview the Leitmotiv guide after the jump.

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  1. How fortunate this is: I am flying to NYC tomorrow to see my first Ring Cycle and will be seated in the Family Circle section… After the outstanding Walküre we was offered to us yesterday at TCE, the expectations are high!

  2. Interesting to see the key diagram, never saw that before. Donner and Froh are Freia's brothers though, not children of Wotan/Fricka, they are childless.

  3. Ouch, Anon, you're absolutely right! This was actually wrong in my source (which I was going to scan but I figured out it would be faster if I just drew my own). I've never taken so much notice of Donner and Froh, they're more like local color than anything else. I'll fix it when I get a chance.

  4. Thank you for this!

    I also love the idea of stopping at Valhalla after, especially as it is on the walk home anyway. I may have to do that, I am attending the 3rd cycle (I got tickets as an engagement "ring.")

  5. new edition is posted with family tree corrected!

    mountmccabe, we DID go to Valhalla and I DID drink a Weissbier and it WAS excellent.

  6. You know about the CD with Deryke Cooke's analysis, right?

    in which he walks the listener through the themes, shows how they are interrlated in various drama-enhancing ways, and gives examples from the score, courtesy of Solti. (It was prepared at the same times as the classic Solti Ring recording, in the 60s.) Not as handy as your portable guide, but worth a listen for both budding and seasoned Wagnerians.