) is the second of the four operas in Richard Wagner's Ring
cycle, and the first of the early curtain, late-bedtime-length operas that inspired the term "Wagnerian" as a synonym for "extremely long." In it we meet a large quantity of the known offspring of the philandering head god, Wotan, including the nine Valkyries--warlike maidens who haul dead heroes to feast forever with the gods at Valhalla--and Wotan's twin children by a mortal woman, Siegmund and Sieglinde. The opera opens with Siegmund, defeated in battle, rushing into the first shelter he finds. It turns out to be the unhappy home of Hunding and Sieglinde. Sieglinde is Siegmund's twin sister, but that doesn't stop them from declaring their love and running off together, right after Siegmund pulls out the sword that their father left stuck in the tree that grows in the middle of the great hall. Brunnhilde, the chief Valkyrie, is first ordered by their father to help Siegmund, but he has to change his mind when Fricka, the goddess of marriage, points out the irregularity of the relationship. Brunnhilde admires Siegmund and tries to save him, but has to settle for saving the pregnant Sieglinde; as a reward for Sieglinde's audacity, Wotan puts her to sleep on a rock surrounded by fire that only a man who has never known fear can penetrate.
Rudolph Sabor's version of the libretto does a wonderful job of capturing Wagner's rhythms and idiom and bringing the whole into accessible English. This translation--which also includes suggestions for further study and comments on the action--would be a useful companion to listening to a recording of the Ring, because it points out when the leitmotifs occur.
'Best of the music books was Rudolph Sabor's idiosyncratic, cheeky and incisive Translation and Commentaries on Wagner's Ring.' (Observer) 'This is Sabor at his best. An indispensable part of the Wagner lover's library. And for those new to the Ring cycle - what better place to start!' (Opera Now) 'It has been brilliantly done by Rudolph Sabor, whose achievement is magnificent. The clarity, detail, comprehensiveness and sheer usefulness of the volumes cannot be praised too highly. I sincerely hope this will be a model for further companions to other opera composers and their work.' (Financial Times)