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Wagner's 'Die Walkuere'

You might think of the music we've got here as another episode in the continuing saga of "The Lords of the Ring." Yes, that's "Lords of the Ring," not Lord of the Rings. In other words, this isn't some exclusive, audio version of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic series of novels, or of the blockbuster film trilogy.

If you're disappointed at not finding Tolkien or Peter Jackson here, you shouldn't be. What we do have is every bit as compelling. It's Die Walkuere, the brilliant second installment in Richard Wagner's spectacular The Ring of the Nibelungen. That four-opera cycle — which lasts even longer than the combined, extended editions of Jackson's movies — tells the story of an all powerful Ring that eventually has several "Lords," none of whom come to a good end. You'll probably find parallels between Tolkien's story and Wagner's, even though Tolkien denied them. And while Wagner's dramas may lack widescreen, digital special effects, they make up for it with music that instantly transports listeners to another world, sight unseen.

On World of Opera, host Lisa Simeone brings us all the action from the The Washington National Opera, in a production of Die Walkuere starring the opera company's general director. But, not to worry — when this administrator steps into the fray, it's not like, say, George Steinbrenner playing shortstop for the Yankees, because this isn't just any General Director. The chief opera admistrator in Washington also happens to be a fairly well-known tenor, Placido Domingo, who takes the heroic role of Siegmund.

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