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[] Wagner Books FAQ
Section - I. Introductory Reading

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 If you know little or nothing about Richard Wagner or his works, then
 these books are a good place to start.

%T Wagner Without Fear : Learning to Love - and Even Enjoy - Opera's 
Most Demanding Genius 
%A William Berger
%D 1998
%C New York
%I Vintage Books
%G ISBN 0 3757 0054 4 pbk, ML410.W13 B47 1998
%X A gentle introduction to Wagner's works in general, and a more
detailed account of each of the ten "canonical" operas (see the main
FAQ, section II subsection E, for an overview). Written for the
newcomer who finds Wagner intimidating, this book provides an
introduction to the Wagner phenomenon and a biographical sketch, before
presenting the operas. The author also gives practical advice for the
novice operagoer. With recommendations for further reading and

%T Richard Wagner's Music Dramas 
%T Richard Wagners Musikdramen
%M German *
%A Carl Dahlhaus
%F Mary Whittall
%D 1979 
%C Cambridge UK
%I Cambridge University Press
%G ISBN 0 5212 2397 0 hbk, 0 5214 2899 8 pbk; ML410.W13 D153
%X One essay for each of the ten stage works in the Bayreuth canon.
Michael Tanner writes: "Carl Dahlhaus ... gives perhaps the most
succinct and helpful account of the specific dramatic and musical
features of each work, while largely abstaining from giving his view 
of their import, or from passing any judgements".
%O German original published in 1971.

%T Decoding Wagner : An Invitation to his World of Music Drama
%A Thomas May
%D 2005
%C Portland, OR
%I Amadeus Press
%G ISBN 1 5746 7097 2 ; ML410.W13 M25 2004
%S Unlocking the Masters
%X Confronting commonly held assumptions, Mr. May presents a straight-
forward overview of what Richard Wagner attempted to achieve with his
"artwork of the future", the great emotional power in his art and the
world of this deeply misunderstood figure and cultural icon.  In its
author's words, the book "aims to offer a sensible overview of his
achievement ... an introduction for those who would like to delve more
fully into these works ... The spotlight is on the works themselves, 
on the common ground behind the music and the drama - and on the
relevance this continues to hold for us." With eight pages of b/w
%O Packaged with two full-length BMG Classics CDs. 

%T Wagner Nights (UK title)
%T The Wagner Operas (US title)
%A Ernest Newman
%D 1991 (reprint)
%C Princeton
%I Princeton Univ. Press
%G ISBN 0 6910 2716 1 pbk, 0 3944 0880 2 hbk; MT100.W2 N53 1991
%X An authoritative introduction to each of the ten canonical operas.
Although this book provides a detailed summary both of the dramatic
action and the music, and useful information on the sources and the
process of creation respectively of each work, it provides no
interpretation of the dramas. Michael Tanner writes: "Some of his
research is invariably dated, but not seriously so. Given the usual
misery of reading opera plots, it is an astonishingly enjoyable book".
Laon comments: "Ernest Newman's book remains the best introduction 
to Wagner's operas. He is astonishingly good on Wagner's sources, 
and on the draft processes Wagner went through as he transformed 
source material into his final forms. Other books deal with different 
aspects of individual operas in more depth, but this is still one of 
the books to start with."
%O Originally published in 1949 but still relevant today.

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