In April 2014, Houston Grand Opera will launch its first Ring Cycle, a work by Richard Wagner comprising four operas lasting sixteen hours. The full cycle will be presented over four years, and this Houston Seminar series will follow suit. HGO dramaturg Mena Mark Hanna will lead in-depth discussions on the origin of Wagner’s colossal work, his influence on later artists, and the opera that starts the massive cosmology of the Ring, Das Rheingold.
March 18—Wagner: The Ideas
Wagner’s stage works fuse literature, philosophy, and music. Learn how Wagner transformed stage drama through the Ring Cycle, his festival at Bayreuth, and his concept of gesamtkunstwerk—German for “total art work.”
March 25—Wagner: The Music
Wagner’s operas were composed using carefully chosen leitmotifs, a short recurring musical fragment associated with a person, place, or idea. The Ring Cycle uses dozens of leitmotifs, some of which recur throughout the entire cycle. Learn how to recognize these leitmotifs and how Wagner revolutionized compositional technique.
April 1—Wagner: Das Rheingold
The prelude of Richard Wagner’s monumental Ring Cycle, Das Rheingold sets the stage for a series of operas that took twenty-six years to compose and has influenced countless artists, musicians, and thinkers since its premiere in 1876. Learn all about Wagner’s universe: the gods, heroes, giants, and dwarves who fight over precious gold at the bottom of the Rhine River, protected by the beautiful Rhinemaidens.
April 8—Dress Rehearsal
Houston Grand Opera has generously invited us to the dress rehearsal. This invitation applies only to those who have signed up for the entire Seminar series.
Mena Mark Hanna is dramaturg at Houston Grand Opera and lecturer at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University. At HGO, he oversees the translation and implementation of opera surtitles, is responsible for main stage production research, assists in new opera commissions, is content producer for national radio broadcasts, and lectures and writes extensively on behalf of the company. Dr. Hanna holds a DPhil from Oxford University.