Ring Tones

March 18, 2010 by University of La Verne

David Werner Lecture “My Precious Illusion: Rings of Power in Wagner and Tolkien”

Photo by: Monika Rittershaus/LA Opera

Magic rings have been the subject of folklore and fairy tales for as long as people have adorned their fingers with glittering bands. But a ring endowed also with ultimate power is a theme that has captivated audiences for generations.

La Verne Professor David Werner will examine the relationship between good and evil and power in his lecture “My Precious Illusion: Rings of Power in Wagner and Tolkien” in the Campus Center on Monday, March 29 at 7 p.m. The event, part of the university’s “Ring Festival La Verne” series, is open to the public and admission is free.

During his talk, Werner will discuss the mythological relationship between power and love and the ring that allows only one or the other in Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

“The idea of ruling the world is an ancient one in world mythology. Both Wagner and Tolkien make important use of the idea of a ring of power which can ‘rule the world.’ However, there are obvious inconsistencies inherent in the idea of ‘ruling the world,’” Werner said. “Surely, upon reflection, the ‘world’ referred to cannot actually mean the entire planet, because who truly wants to run trash collection in Slovakia?

Photo by: Monika Rittershaus

“The idea of absolute power is continually intoxicating. The idea of the ring drifts through mythology through the ages, taking on different forms in the folk systems of different people, lending its aura to everything from Plato to modern conspiracy theory. But ‘The Ring’ is more complex than that, and the lust for power is the most basic of human desires.”

The “Ring Festival La Verne” Series, coordinated by Werner, is included in the “Talks & Symposia” portion of Ring Festival L.A., the regional multimedia celebration referred to as the most interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, collaborative artistic and cultural event to in Southern California since the L.A. Olympic Arts Festival. While the focus of the festival runs from April-June 2010 when L.A. Opera presents the four Wagner Operas, many events such as the La Verne series are underway and combine to create a regional celebration of the arts.

Complete information on the entire Ring Festival L.A. is available at www.ringfestivalla.com.

“Ring Festival La Verne” Lecture Series

“Wagner, Schoenberg, and American Culture” (completed)

When – Monday, Feb. 1
Presenter – Kenneth Marcus, associate professor of History

“German Nationalism and the Rise of The Ring” (completed)

When – Thursday, Feb. 18
Presenter – Alfred Clark, associate vice president for Academic Affairs & professor of Humanities

“My Precious Illusion: Rings of Power in Wagner and Tolkien”

When – Monday, March 29
Time – 7 p.m.
Site – Campus Center
Presenter – David Werner, associate professor of English

“Beyond the Mystic Chasm: Wagner Conjures for the Theatre”

When – Thursday, April 8
Time – 4 p.m.
Site – Dailey Theatre
Presenter – Sean Dillon, assistant professor of Theatre Arts

“Drama in Wagner’s Ring: Music Propels the Action”

When – Wednesday, April 21
Time – 7 p.m.
Site – Campus Center
Presenter – Kathleen Lamkin, professor of Music

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