There is growing recognition that Richard Wagner's mature works—the music dramas—owed much to earlier nineteenth-century opera. In the often-contentious area of Wagnerian form, analysts have tended to draw more on Wagner's writings and the Formenlehre tradition than on operatic models, but recent studies by Karol Berger and Ji-Yeon Lee have shown examples of opera-specific formal types in the music dramas. This article demonstrates Wagner's continued use of one such formal type—lyric form (AABA or AABC)—in five examples from Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. The first part of this article proposes a conceptual revision of lyric form as a conventional configuration of both music and text, which are united by a shared set of music-rhetorical functions. The second part shows how Wagner's lyric forms integrate into the surrounding dramatic continuity as extroverted, performative monologues within realistic conversations. The third part analyzes the much “looser” lyric form in “Wotan's Farewell” from the end of Die Walküre, which displays both Wotan's intimate, self-expressive communication and Wagner's increasing flexibility with the template. These analyses show that operatic formal types were compatible with Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk aesthetic, and the analytic method suggests a path toward further engagement with other nineteenth-century opera and other genres that combine music, text, and dramatic storytelling.

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