Wagner - Ring Cycle

Wagner's 'Ring' Cycle, otherwise known as Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), is actually a collection of four epic operas by German composer Richard Wagner, composed between 1848 and 1874.

Wagner was not a composer to do things by halves. His operatic 'trilogy' actually consists of four operas: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.

The first, Das Rheingold, was merely a prelude (despite lasting a hefty two hours), and Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung were subtitled as First Day, Second Day and Third Day, forming a trilogy.

These operatic greats, although now often performed separately, were originally intended to be performed in a series. A performance of Götterdämmerung alone lasts around five hours, so performances of all four are often staged over four nights - lasting an impressive 15 hours in total.

It's not only the timeframe that is impressive in these gargantuan operas. The music is rich and impressive, scored for a larger-than-life orchestra. Wagner even had a purpose-built theatre constructed for his performances. While composers in Europe often revelled in light, comic opera, Wagner decided never again to write an 'opera', and labelled his pieces as 'dramas' instead. He certainly proves the music to be worthy of that title using complex Greek tragedy-inspired plots, complete with gods, heroes, mythical creatures and a magic ring, which grants the user world domination.