So I've finally broken a decade-long opposition to Wagner and have started attending his operas. starting with the Ring cycle.
My first observation was that hey, Wagner isn't so long after all - Das Rhinegold is so short that it's performed without an intermission; a mere 2 1/2 hours.
That was swiftly contradicted by the next, Die Walkure, which managed an impressive four hours of people (and gods) arguing about whether or not incest is really so bad, and some ladies on flying horses.
But really the striking thing (beyond the music itself) is, one, how much influence Wagner has had on us. The Lord of the Rings leans heavily on Wagnerian myth; a magic cursed that bestows incredible power? Sure, in the opera it's the helm, not the ring, that makes you invisible, but the idea is the same.
(I can't help but feel the irony of an opera denouncing all-seeing dictatorship being picked up by the Nazis).
Further, without Wagner there could be no Disney. His atmospheric effects are so essential to the Disney universe that I may never be able to watch those old movies again without thinking of him.
To be continued...
"You gods, you are so high above us, you laugh and love, and do not desire gold. But all shall lust for gold, when they curse love, as I curse love."