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The Ring Without Words Brings Together Classic Wagner Leitmotifs

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 25-26


Metalheads like to throw the word epic around. But even the wickedest Manowar guitar solo or Blind Guardian concept album is impotent next to the sheer magnitude of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle.

The full cycle about clashes between Norse gods, tragic romance and a ring of power features four operas written over the course of 26 years that run 17 hours all-told. It revolutionized musical storytelling through the use of short pieces of melody representing characters and actions—leitmotifs—and were brought back as their themes. That's how epic is done.

However, we live in a culture and economy that rarely afford 17 hours to do anything, let alone listen to opera. You probably don't have the time to see it performed, and most orchestras don't play the whole thing anyway. It has been nearly a decade since the Boise Philharmonic took up even a single piece of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

And that's where The Ring Without Words comes in.

Created by conductor Lorin Maazel, The Ring Without Words is a flyover version of The Ring Cycle, featuring its greatest hits in a single performance. It's not even remotely bite-sized but neither is it a bite too big to chew. The audience experiences the greatest pieces of Wagner's leitmotifs brought together as harmonies and one flowing piece of music.

Boise Philharmonic will perform The Ring Without Words for the first time this week with two performances: Friday, Jan. 25 at Swayne Auditorium in Nampa and Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Morrison Center in Boise. And yes, it will be epic.