In the April 25th issue of New Yorker, there is an excellent article by Alex Ross which unravels the real message in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. It seems Wagner’s purpose is not to glorify power, but to show that abuse of power doesn’t really work—not even for the gods.
Ross interviewed several conductors who have conducted the Ring, including Christoph von Dohnanyi, whose father was executed in April 1945 for his role in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Dohnanyi said the Ring delivers a sweeping critique of the urge to dominate others, but it was the creation of a domineering man, and it drew the admiration of Hitler. And Wagner made anti-Semitic statements that were quoted by Goebbels. Dohnanyi goes on to say, “I don’t blame any Jewish person who would say, ‘Wagner’s music may be great but I don’t want it. ‘ ” But he also says, “…..when I really think about Wagner I don’t discover anything that had to lead to Hitler. And what happens here (we’re looking at Wotan’s cries of shame) is not something that any Fascist could have written.”
So the Nazis got it wrong.