Richard Wagner's Women

October 2011
12 black and white, 29 line illustrations
248 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843836858
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC MUS050000, MUS028000, SOC028000

Richard Wagner's Women

Eva Rieger

Translated by Chris Walton

A well-researched and exhaustive analysis of the role of women in Wagner's operas.
Richard Wagner's music contains some of the most powerful portrayals of emotions in all opera, particularly love. Eva Rieger presents a new picture of the composer, showing how the women at his side inspired him and how closely his life and art intertwined.
We follow Wagner's restless hunt for the 'ideal woman', her appointed task being to give him shelter, warmth, inspiration, adventure and redemption, all in one. He could hardly have desired anything more contradictory, and this is reflected in the female characters of his operas. They are all in some way torn, faltering between their own desire for self-realization and the societal constraints that impel them to sacrifice themselves for their men.
Rieger bids farewell to essentialist, naturalized notions of femininity and masculinity. Her investigations are both comprehensive and convincing, for she avoids the pitfalls of imposing extraneous interpretation, instead focussing keenly on the music itself.

EVA RIEGER is Professor Emeritus in Historical Musicology at the University of Bremen and lives in the principality of Liechtenstein.

Table of Contents

'...the world as yet has no notion of it': Wagner's Musical Language
From Rienzi to Der fliegende Holländer
'The glitter of a high-class brothel': Tannhäuser
'Take all that I am!': Lohengrin
Sexual Promise and the Womanly Redeemer: Tristan und Isolde
Mathilde, the 'dear muse': Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
The Ring of the Nibelung: Genesis and Prelude - The Ring I
Wotan and the Valkyrie - The Ring II
Siegfried and Women - The Ring III
Götterdämmerung - The Ring IV
Between Eva and Kundry: ' woman at my side!'
'...the suffering of love's seduction': Kundry and Parsifal


[M]ake[s] important steps in Wagner research and enable us to see how his theoretical works, libretti and music combine to present an important step forward in seeing how his female characters contribute to his overall creation of musical masterworks that still speak so powerfully to us. WAGNER QUARTERLY [WAGNER SOCIETY NSW, Australia] [T]his book provides a fascinating insight into the stimuli which made Richard Wagner what he was and led him to create what are arguably for some and definitively for many the Western world's most significant, entrancing and enduring compositions for the operatic stage. WAGNER NEWS

[T]he most comprehensive analysis of Wagner's major female characters to date [...] in an excellent English translation by Chris Walton [...] Rieger's approach offers an intriguing reading of women and gender in Wagner [...] compelling us to apply a more critical stance towards his idealisation of the feminine. THE WAGNER JOURNAL

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