The 18 stages of watching Wagner's Ring Cycle
16 October 2014, 17:01
Wagner's Ring Cycle. It's a 15-hour, four-opera-long beast. Experiencing it for the first time can be a daunting, terrifying, edifying, triumphant and potentially horrifying prospect, so here are the emotions you can expect to be processing as you take it all in (clue: there will be tears).
1. Stoic determination
It is the pinnacle of operatic achievement. Of course it won't be hard work. All you have to do is just give it a chance, go with the flow and soak it all up. Let's do this!
2. Freewheeling enthusiasm
Ooh, listen to that sustained E flat! That's doomy stuff. I like this. This can stay for breakfast.
3. Slight confusion
OK, so the Rhinemaidens, they're sort-of like sirens… there's a dwarf guy… and now some giants… some sort of kitchen-sink dispute… and some apples? Wait, what?
4. It happens to everyone
Ha, must be you misunderstanding the plot, you big silly! It's not that complicated. Let's just press on. It'll pick up.
5. Grudging acceptance that this 'might take a while'
*Looks at watch* *winces*
6. So... no interval in this one, eh?
Das Rheingold, with all it's watery imagery, can only have an adverse effect on your straining bladder. Try to think about something else.
7. Actual irritation
The plot, once your wieldy friend, has floated off into the stratosphere like a helium balloon. You have literally no idea what is happening and it is a nightmare.
8. Ride of the Valkyries is on!
OH HANG ON! This is awesome. May these fleeting minutes of bombast last for the next 8 hours! Saddle my winged horse, I'm back in the game!
9. I wish Ride of the Valkyries was still on
10. Realisation that daylight has passed
You've been sitting there for hours now. If you were planning on doing anything else with your day, forget it. Call the cat in from the garden after Die Walküre, and think about getting some soup on the hob. It's going to be a long night.
11. Casual dragon research
Drinking the blood of a dragon makes you able to understand the song of a woodbird. The National Trust have been withholding this information. People need to know.
12. Grim acceptance that things may improve
OK. There's a bit of romance, the whole 'quest for knowledge of fear thing' is interesting, the music's perked up… I'm back on board with this.
13. Actual enjoyment
Y'know, now that you've been bludgeoned into acceptance, it doesn't hurt to enjoy yourself. Erda's retreated, Siegfried's getting into some pretty righteous fights with The Wanderer and things are starting to look good.
14. Giddy zeal for opera
"Light-bringing love and laughing death!" This stuff is insane and amazing! And, dare we say it, the end might be in sight!
15. So, we're done?
What, a whole other opera? I thought we'd already done about seven of these?!
16. Seeking last-minute escape route
How do you organise that thing where you get someone you know to text you a made-up emergency so you can leave?
17. The funeral pyre
No! Brünnhiiiilde!! And why did you have to take the horse with you?!
18. General awe
Got to hand it to Wagner. As endings go, depicting the inside of the hall of the gods on fire as the Rhine overflows is pretty epic. Definitely the best 14-hour opera cycle out there.
Now you know what you're in for, discover more and begin your journey through this incredible tetralogy here.