Richard Wagner's opera Das Rheingold is a milestone in the composer's outlput and in the history of music in general. It marked Wagner's return to operatic composition after a hiatus of five years, and signified his definitive break with earlier operatic conventions. it also represents a reconsideration of the whole question of dramatic-musical form, and the role of tonality in articulating this form.
Warren Darcy traces here the genesis of Das Rheingold through the various textual and musical sketches and drafts to the full score, and also develops a theoretical framework within which the opera may be meaningfully analysed. Using Wagner's manuscripts as a point of departure, Darcy discusses the formal, harmonic, and linear structure of the work. In so doing, he challenges a number of contemporary views about the opera, including those of Curt von Westernhagen and Carl Dahlhaus.