Wagner’s Ring

Wagner’s Ring: Turning the Sky Round, by M. Owen Lee ★★
This is one of now many analyses of Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner. Lee apparently is a Catholic priest, and these short essays were from radio commentary that he gave. This was read at the recommendation of a number of reviewers on Amazon.com. I found that Lee does an excellent superficial analysis of the plot, and suggests that the “deeper” meaning to be communicated in the operas is best seen on a psychological study of the Ring from the viewpoint of Wagner himself. Lee suggests that Wagner is attempting a Nietzschean twist on evolution, suggesting the death of the old gods, and the emergence of enlightened mankind superior to our past. Having recently listened to Robert Greenberg’s analysis of the Ring as found in the Teaching Company recordings, I tend to agree with Greenberg. Lee seems to idolize Wagner as a deep thinker. Greenberg instead views Wagner as the most profound of composers but simultaneously the evilest of all men whose ideology is repulsive. From what I know about Wagner, I think Greenberg is closer to the real Wagner. It is a pity that such amazingly beautiful music has a dark side to it, and must be listened to for the quality of the music. The underlying messages must be glossed over and the Ring watched solely for its superficial message, as Lee manifests in this short book.