English National Opera Guides are ideal companions to the opera. They provide stimulating introductory articles together with the complete text of each opera in English and the original. The opening evening of Wagner’s four-part cycle,The Ring of Nibelung, stands apart as more naive and picturesque than the others. But it immediately establishes the huge scale of the overall work, and the extraordinary musical language that will be displayed throughout. It is a miracle of musical history that Wagner’s 1850 conception could be brought to completion, in an organic whole, some 25 years later. Stewart Spencer discusses the way in which Wagner fuses genuine mythology with his own invention and John Deathridge places The Rhinegold in the context of The Ring and its century.