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Thread: Ranking of the 10 major Wagner operas

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Ranking of the 10 major Wagner operas

    I haven't seen Rienzi (I got a copy but it's still unwatched), and I haven't listened to his two juvenile efforts, which he didn't consider as part of his works (he called them "immature works" and left instructions to ban them from ever being performed at Bayreuth).

    Not considering the above three, I'd like to see how you guys rank Wagner's 10 major operas. Here is how I'd do it:

    1. Tristan und Isolde
    2. Die Walküre
    3. Götterdämmerung
    4. Das Rheingold
    5. Lohengrin
    6. Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
    7. Siegfried
    8. Tannhäuser
    9. Parsifal
    10. Der Fliegende Holländer

    I know that the most controversial item of my ranking is the low position granted to Parsifal. Yes, the music is sublime but I just can't stomach it with all that incense and pretense. On the other hand, being 9th among Wagner's operas is not a lowly positon, because actually all 10 are extremely good. It's just that among all these masterpieces, my esteem for Parsifal (and Der Fliegende Holländer) is a little smaller than what I feel for the other eight.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I haven't heard Tannhauser or Lohengrin yet, but I've heard the rest. I'd probably place them like this...

    1. Tristan
    2. Götterdämmerung
    3. Die Walküre
    4. Die Meistersinger
    5. Das Rheingold
    6. Parsifal
    7. Siegfried
    8. Der Fliegende Holländer

    However, I haven't heard Parsifal, Dutchman, or Meistersinger for some time. I'll reacquaint myself with them as time and money permit and listen to the other two, then come back to this if it's still active (maybe if it's not).

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    1. Tristan und Isolde
    1. Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (tie)
    3. Siegfried
    4. Die Walküre
    5. Götterdämmerung
    6. Das Rheingold
    7. Lohengrin
    8. Tannhäuser
    9. Parsifal
    10. Der Fliegende Holländer

    I know that Die Walküre is the most popular of the 4 parts of Der Ring, but I always have Siegfried as my favorite..... provided a good Siegfried is singing in it, which admittedly is extremely rare. I have a feeling that those who rate Siegfried lowly hasn't heard a good Siegfried yet (i.e not Windgassen in Solti's recording). I agree that Parsifal has too little badass dramatic moments compared to his other operas (the only notable one is the awakening scene) but I am surprised by Almaviva's low rating of Die Meistersinger, which to me is easily his most consistent and complete opera with the least boring moments.

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scytheavatar View Post
    1. Tristan und Isolde
    1. Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (tie)
    3. Siegfried
    4. Die Walküre
    5. Götterdämmerung
    6. Das Rheingold
    7. Lohengrin
    8. Tannhäuser
    9. Parsifal
    10. Der Fliegende Holländer

    I know that Die Walküre is the most popular of the 4 parts of Der Ring, but I always have Siegfried as my favorite..... provided a good Siegfried is singing in it, which admittedly is extremely rare. I have a feeling that those who rate Siegfried lowly hasn't heard a good Siegfried yet (i.e not Windgassen in Solti's recording). I agree that Parsifal has too little badass dramatic moments compared to his other operas (the only notable one is the awakening scene) but I am surprised by Almaviva's low rating of Die Meistersinger, which to me is easily his most consistent and complete opera with the least boring moments.
    But it's not a low rating for Die Meistersinger. I love it! It's one of my favorite operas, considering all other composers. It's just that I love the other five even more.
    Tristan und Isolde and Lohengrin get me to tears every time. And I just love the Ring so much that I don't mind the down moments in my three preferred segments. Siegfried on the other hand, I love for the third act, but I don't care as much for the first and second acts (which I consider to be the least interesting moments of the whole Ring with their male voice-only structure), thus its lower position - again, lower as compared to all these masterpieces, because as a matter of fact I love all ten major Wagner operas, it's just that I love Parsifal and Holländer less than I love the other eight. See, I really love Tannhäuser too, but I place Siegfried higher because of its third act.

    Let's consider that my top 8 are almost a tie for first, and only Parsifal and Holländer are a little less highly regarded (but still pretty high as compared to operas of other composers).
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    I can't really join the fun since I don't know all 10 (yet), but here's my ranking of those I do know in some detail:

    1. Meistersinger (one of my favorite operas overall)
    2. Tannhaeuser (moves at breakneck pace, given that it's Wagner)
    3. Parsifal (currently working on this one, made a fine first impression on me)
    4. Lohengrin (last two acts marvelous, but frankly I find the first act too drawn out)

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    1. Tristan und Isolde
    2. Der Ring
    a) Die Walküre
    b) Götterdämmerung
    c) Das Rheingold
    d) Siegfried
    3. Lohengrin
    4. Tannhäuser
    5. Parsifal
    6. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
    7. Der Fliegende Holländer

    I think it's possible that Parsifal will move up on my ranking in the future - most likely above Tannhauser, perhaps even above both Tannhauser and Lohengrin.

    I ALSO MUST SCOLD ALMAVIVA FOR FORGETTING UMLAUT IN "Nürnberg" DESPITE PUTTING IT EVERYWHERE ELSE!

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post

    I think it's possible that Parsifal will move up on my ranking in the future - most likely above Tannhauser, perhaps even above both Tannhauser and Lohengrin. (Emphasis mine)

    I ALSO MUST SCOLD ALMAVIVA FOR FORGETTING UMLAUT IN "Nürnberg" DESPITE PUTTING IT EVERYWHERE ELSE!
    Consider this a karmatic 'scold boomerang.'

    But seriously, folks...

    I don't think I have any reason to revise the position articulated back here, where I struggled to make significant separations. Might prove more interesting to consider some observations based on others' rankings of the Wagner canon-

    Generally, it seems that incidental opera fans tend to rank Lohengrin and Dutchman (and sometimes Tannhäuser) near the top.

    (Again, speaking in general terms) major opera enthusiasts who aren't necessarily Wagnerians per se are attracted to Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger. It seems that those who are more insistent on a more cogent story-line will favor Die Meistersinger. Die Walküre, too, is a good 'stand-alone' in their eyes, for a well-fitting words plus music unity.

    Seems a minor exception exists for skilled musicians and spirited Classical Music enthusiasts who aren't necessarily big opera fans- to acknowledge some pride of place for Tristan und Isolde for its inarguable position in the history of compositional development. At times, people who fall into this category also give a nod to Götterdämmerung and Parsifal for the manner in which they're MUSICALLY fascinating.

    Every now and then, you see a non-Wagnerian say that Das Rheingold is their favorite Wagner opera- and no doubt that, when absorbed as intended, it really has a lot of unique and near-unique features (continuous music-flow, for instance. Also, it's certified 100% human-free).

    The way music-fans rank Wagner operas typically tells me more those who do the ranking than it tells me about the operas- but it's still really cool(!), I like finding out these things!
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

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    Youre right Chi town, there is probably large disparity between the opinions of Wagnerians and general opera fans.

    What does my ranking tell you?

    1. Tristan und Isolde
    2. Die Walkure
    3. Gotterdamerung
    4. Das Rheingold
    5. Siegfried
    6. Lohengrin
    7. Die meistersinger
    8. Parsifal
    9. Tannhauser
    10. Der Fliegende Hollander

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    I ALSO MUST SCOLD ALMAVIVA FOR FORGETTING UMLAUT IN "Nürnberg" DESPITE PUTTING IT EVERYWHERE ELSE!
    Oooops....
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emiellucifuge View Post
    Youre right Chi town, there is probably large disparity between the opinions of Wagnerians and general opera fans.

    What does my ranking tell you?

    1. Tristan und Isolde
    2. Die Walkure
    3. Gotterdamerung
    4. Das Rheingold
    5. Siegfried
    6. Lohengrin
    7. Die meistersinger
    8. Parsifal
    9. Tannhauser
    10. Der Fliegende Hollander
    Your ranking is almost the same as mine (a couple of inversions in close positions) so whatever CTP draws from these things, I guess we're the same type of music fans.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
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    1. Tristan und Isolde
    2. Die Walküre
    3. Götterdämmerung
    4. Das Rheingold
    5. Siegfried
    6. Lohengrin
    7. Tannhäuser
    8. Parsifal
    9. Der Fliegende Holländer
    10. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Your ranking is almost the same as mine (a couple of inversions in close positions) so whatever CTP draws from these things, I guess we're the same type of music fans.


    Why did you place Siegfried so far behind the other Nibelungen operas? Is it really such a difference in quality?

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    Senior Member Falstaft's Avatar
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    1) Götterdämmerung
    2) Parsifal
    3) T&I
    4) Siegfried
    5) Walküre
    6) Lohengrin
    7) Rheingold
    8) Meistersinger
    9) Tannhäuser
    10) Holländer
    11) Rienzi
    12) Liebesverbot
    13) Feen

    *Note ranking prone to change on daily basis.

    Would also be interesting to rank individual acts, which for me would start something like

    1) Siegfried Act III
    2) T&I II
    3) Götterdämmerung II
    4) Parsifal I
    5) Walk III
    ...

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    1. Das Rheingold (I can listen to this opera almost anytime)
    2. Die Meistersinger
    3. Seigfried (weird I know but the usage of Siegfried Idyll in the last movement, and Siegfried forging Nothung inspires the heck outta me)
    4. Flying Dutchman (I like its compactness and Beethovenian style)
    5. Gotterdammerung
    6. Die Walkure

    Sorry to say I never fully heard Tristan, Parsifal, Lohengrin, and Tannhauser only excerpts.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    1. Die Walküre
    2. Tristan und Isolde
    3. Götterdämmerung
    4. Das Rheingold
    5. Lohengrin
    6. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
    7. Siegfried
    8. Der Fliegende Holländer
    9. Tannhäuser

    Still to explore Parsifal
    Natalie

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