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Funny Wagner

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When Radio 3 put on the whole of The Ring in a day they established competitions for 50-word-or-less synopses of the story. Of course EPOC’s Ring has raised a few eyebrows because of its suitability for children. As one the entrants in the competition pointed out the story involves:

Authorities are anxious to trace:
  • a devious dwarf wanted on charges of sexual harassment and world domination;
  • a partially-sighted God observed handling stolen goods, also sought by the CSA;
  • a large murderer, believed to be using the alias ‘F. Dragon’;
  • a rampaging pyromaniac;
  • any suppliers of narcotic apples;
  • two incestuous siblings;
  • a petulant teenager carrying a sword, possibly damaged;
  • a forthright lady in armour with a vicious gang, warning, this is no man;
  • one master forger;
  • a talking bird;
  • three aquatic prostitutes;
  • three scheming royals.
Members of the public should not approach these individuals who are considered extremely dangerous.

by Tam Pollard (winner)


However, if you are looking for a short, pithy synopsis for your class you might like to try the following:

Rhinemaidens' spurned suitor Alberich renouncing love forges cursed ring from stolen gold, which Wotan obtains by trickery but has to pay for Valhalla to giants. Fafner kills fellow giant (curse already working), guards ring. Wotan plans to regain it through son Siegmund with sword Nothung but is forced to abandon Siegmund in battle, Valkyrie Brünnhilde, struck by his love for Sieglinde, disobeys Wotan and is awoken from deep sleep by hero Siegfried, who kills dragon Fafner, obtaining ring etc. He is tricked into marrying Gutrune and killed by Hagen (Alberich's son). Brünnhilde throws herself and ring into Rhine. World ends.

by Judith Willcox

Much ado about 'Nothung'...

by Neil Cheshire

Alberich (dwarf) steals Rhinegold off Rhinemaidens and forges the ring of power, plus Tarnhelm (gives invisibility and shapeshifting). Gods steal hoard from Alberich to pay giants for Valhalla. Ring Cursed. Giant Kills Brother and becomes Dragon. Siegmund meets Sieglinde (his sister), falls in love. They elope. Wotan (father) breaks Siegmund's sword. Brünnhilde (Wotan's daughter) trys to help. Siegmund killed by husband. Brünnhilde imprisoned. Siegfried (Siegmund-Sieglinde's son), re-forges sword, kills Dragon, breaks Wotan's staff. Siegfried drugged, forgets Brünnhilde, marries Guntrune. In-laws kill Siegfried. Brünnhilde joins him on funeral pyre. Vallhalla burns. Balance restored.

by Nicholas Burns


“Mr. Wagner has beautiful moments but bad quarters of an hour.”

Rossini (composer)

“Wagner's music is better than it sounds.” 

Mark Twain (author)

“I have witnessed and greatly enjoyed the first act of everything which Wagner created, but the effect on me has always been so powerful that one act was quite sufficient; whenever I have witnessed two acts I have gone away physically exhausted; and whenever I have ventured an entire opera the result has been the next thing to suicide.”

Mark Twain (author)

"I love Wagner, but the music I prefer is that of a cat hung up by its tail outside a window, trying to stick to the panes of glass with its claws."

Baudelaire (poet)


Again, when Radio 3 put on the whole of The Ring in a day they established competitions for ring-inspired Limericks. Here are a few that pertain to our version of the story and which are suitable for children. We have arranged them in plot order where appropriate.


Flosshilde, Woglinde and I
Were giving an old dwarf the eye
But our shoulders so cold
turned his thoughts to our gold
and now we do nothing but cry
When Siegfried fell out with Brünnhilde,
He was murdered:
remorsefulness filled her;
Regretting her bargain With Gunther and Hagen
She jumped on his pyre, and it killed her.
Colin Mitchell
Nick Drury
There was a Nibelungen called Albie,
Who said, "The ruler of the world I'll be."
With the Tarnhelm and Ring
He stole everything.
In time his sad end we all shall see.
Said Siegfried: "Oh, Brunhilde mine
I think I'll just pop down the Rhine."
She said: "You tell Hagen
He drives a poor bargain
And offers his guests dodgy wine."
Tony Watson
Mighty Wotan of gods was the king,
But he coveted Alberich’s ring.
Wagner saw that this story
Could bring him some glory,
So he made it a sixteen-hour sing.
It takes fourteen hours till it's done,
From the dawn till the fall of the sun;
If only Flosshilde
Woke up like Brunnhilde
We'd never have got past Scene One.
Neil McNaught
Michael Scott Rohan
The ring," Wotan said, "it is mine!
From today onwards all will be fine!"
But he would have been wise
To take Erda's advice
And throw it straight back in the Rhine.
Fifteen hours - unless there's an edit
And the libretto - if you have read it
Expansively ranges
To tell of the dangers
Of buying Valhalla on credit
Lizzie Neil
Martin Clay
There was a Valkyrie (Brunnhilde)
Whose passion for young Siegfried thrilled her,
But after their fling
He went off with the ring,
And the fire at Valhalla then killed her.
Sheila McNaught


What's Opera, Doc?

 "The Ring" is an epic, in song
And it needs, to produce it, a throng
But it isn't as funny
As the one with Bugs Bunny
And that's only six minutes long"
Guy Griffiths 

What's Opera, Doc? is a 1957 American animated cartoon short starring Bugs Bunny in the Merrie Melodies series. The story features Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny and uses music from Richard Wagner's operas, particularly Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) and Tannhäuser.

The short is also sometimes informally referred to as ''Kill the Wabbit'' after the line sung by Fudd to the tune of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", the opening passage from Act Three of Die Walküre. In 1994. What's Opera, Doc? was voted no.1 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by 1000 members of the animation field. You can access an excerpt from this cartoon by going to the EPOC website ‘Children/Opera/Cartoon Opera’.


Anna Russell on Wagner

Anna Russell, (1911 – 2006) was an English–Canadian singer and comedienne. Among her best-known works are her concert performances and famous recordings of The Ring of the Nibelungs (An Analysis) – a humorous 30-minute synopsis of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. You can view it on You Tube. She opens, along with sung musical examples with the following:


“Now that the opera season is with us again, I feel it would be appropriate for me to give a talk on Wagner’s “Ring der Nibelungen.” Now I know that analyses of “the Ring” are frequently given over the radio by some great expert for the edification of other great experts, but these are usually so esoteric as to leave the average person as befogged as before…and in fact I think tends to discourage him from going altogether. So I would like to tell you about it as from the point of view of one average opera-goer to another.


Now, the first thing is that every person and event in the Ring cycle has what is grandly called a “leitmotif.” Now you don’t need to worry about that, it merely means a “signature tune.”
The scene opens in the River Rhine. IN it. If it were in New York, it would be like the Hudson. And swimming around there are the three Rhinemaidens…a sort of aquatic Andrews Sisters. Or sometimes they’re called “nixies.” Mairsie-nix and doesie-nix and little nixie-divie. And they sing their signature tune, which is as follows. [Plays and sings] “Weia! Waga! Woge, du Welle, walle zur Wiege! wagala weia! wallala, weiala weia!” I won’t translate it, because it doesn’t mean anything”.