century operatic theatre. Such coherence in realizing the full thematic implications of the action suggested a theatre of total integrity unprecedented in Wagner's time.
On 28 June 1857, Wagner wrote to Liszt:
I have decided at last to give up my obstinate attempt to complete my Nibelung. I have led my young Siegfried into beautiful solitude in the forest; there I have left him under a linden tree and bidden farewell to him with heartfelt tears. . . . If I were to take up the work again, then this must either be made very easy for me, or I myself must be able to present it to the world as a gift in the fullest sense of the word. ( WLB, II, 173)
His reasons for abandoning The Ring have been much debated. Although he endowed the action with dimensions that defied contemporary theatre, he was becoming increasingly discouraged by the lack of opportunity to have his most recent work performed. Because he insisted that The Ring should first be produced complete, he reduced even further the chances of hearing his music. There is distinct evidence too that, by 1857, his ideas on the interrelationship of words and music were changing and that he needed some time for his technique to mature before he could successfully complete the cycle. But perhaps the major reason for abandoning the work was that his interest in it, at least temporarily, was on the wane. While there is no decline in his musical inventiveness, the emotional temperature of the first two acts of Siegfried is distinctly lower and the dramatic momentum slacker than in the earlier works. In fact, circumstances in both Wagner's private and professional life suggested to him that the time was ripe for him to turn to new material. At this point, the story of Tristan and Isolde was better suited to express both his artistic and emotional needs.