The musical work of Richard Wagner is composed of operas or “musical dramas” ranging from “Fairies” (Die Feen) to “Parsifal”. A detailed presentation of each of these major works is associated here with a set of thematic articles, placing them not only in the context of his personal life but also in his social, economic and cultural context. This section also includes all the musical works (excluding opera) and his literary work.

The Fairies, WWV32

Die Feen, WWV32

Grand romantic opera in three acts

Libretto and music by Richard Wagner,
after Carlo Gozzi’s play La donna serpente

Premiere :
June 29, 1888 in Munich, led by Franz Fischer

Cast :
ADA, a fairy (soprano)
ZEMINA, a fairy (soprano)
FARZANA, a fairy (soprano)
ARINDAL, King of Tramond (Tenor)
LORA, his sister (soprano)
MORALD, her betrothed (baritone)
GUNTHER, a courtier from Tramond (tenor)
GERNOT, Arindal’s friend (bass)
DROLLA, Lora’s friend (soprano)
HARLAD, General of GROMA the magician (bass)
A messenger (tenor)
Voice of GROMA the Magician (bass)
Arindal’s and Ada’s two children (silent)
Fairies, Morald’s companions, men and women, soldiers, earth spirits, men of iron, Groma’s invisible spirits (chorus)

Approximative duration : 3hrs

Wagner, Die Feen (The Fairies), Grand romantic opera in three acts (produced for the first time in 1888 in Munich)

The Fairies, the first opera entirely composed and completed in Wagner’s hand, will never be performed on stage during the composer’s lifetime, despite an attempt that had been planned in Leipzig in 1834. The first will indeed be posthumous on June 29, 1888 in Munich, under the direction of conductor Franz Fischer.

Musically, the work is strongly influenced by the vocal and orchestral writing of Weber and Marschner.

Regarding the libretto and for the first time in Wagner’s work, are gathered together the themes that recur in his poetic and dramatic work: the conflict between a supernatural world (that of fairies) and the world of men, relief and redemption through love.

Wagner had previously attempted to compose music by trying to set to music a libretto by his friend Heinrich Laube, which recounted an episode in the life of Kosciusko, on the themes of independence and insurrection dear to the composer. But this project is aborted, because Wagner has difficulty writing music – as was done at the time – in successive “numbers”, and especially on a text that is not by himself.

Disagreeing with the theories already present in Wagner’s mind on Total Art, Wagner wrote the libretto and composed the music of The Fairies, a work in which already appears the theme of redemptive love. Despite fairly conventional music, there are a few pages in The Fairies that foreshadow Wagner’s innovative genius.


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