As part of the Los Angeles Opera's Ring Festival LA, Occidental College will host a May 4 academic symposium on German composer Richard Wagner and his magnum opus, The Ring of the Nibelung, a four-part, 17-hour epic opera about a cursed ring and those trying to obtain its power. 


Occidental's one-day symposium - free and open to the public -- will help illuminate the 19th century work by explaining the artistic, cultural, historical and political contexts of the opera cycle, which is based on medieval German and Scandinavian myths and folk tales.

For example, music professor and associate dean Irene Girton will analyze the leitmotif - a musical phrase associated with a character - and explore its role in the opera's structure and how it moves the plot forward. Cognitive science and music professor Bruno Louchouarn will look at how Wagner controls musical texture and narrative to keep audiences absorbed for hours on end.

And music professor David Kasunic will look at how each performance of The Ring remakes the controversial legacy of Wagner, a notorious anti-Semite. Afterwards, Occidental historian Marla Stone will moderate an artistic, historical, and philosophical re-evaluation of the opera. A reception follows the symposium.

The May 4 symposium will be held from 1-4 p.m. at Occidental College (1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles 90041) in Johnson Hall, Room 200.

LA Opera's May-June production of The Ring of the Nibelung is the first time the company has tackled this iconic work. Consequently, LA Opera has partnered with more than 75 cultural and educational institutions in Los Angeles to stage Ring Festival LA. The festival runs April 15 through June 30 and is composed of a wide variety of exhibitions, performances, symposia and other events.

For more information about Occidental's symposium on Wagner and his Ring cycle, go to:

For more information on Ring Festival LA, go to:

For more information on LA Opera's production of The Ring of the Nibelung, go to: