This is a grand presentation depicting the life and works of Richard Wagner. The period covered is just before the 1848 Bavarian Revolution. It covers his exile in Switzerland up to the point when he settles down under the beneficial patronage of King Ludwig II; the period culminates with his final triumph at Bayreuth. Wagner's revolutionary political and musical ideas and his unique style of German nationalism and anti-Semitic beliefs are all presented in context of his times. This film was made in 1983 and the title role was played brilliantly by Richard Burton. The ten-part mini-series was directed by Tony Palmer. It was written by Charles Wood. Other main roles have been played by Vanessa Redgrave as Cosima von Bulow/Wagner and Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson as ministers of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The background music recorded for the film has been played by the Vienna Philharmonic under Sir Georg Solti and Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. This series was filmed in several locations that included Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee of King Ludwig II of Bavaria; the Residenz in Munich and other sites in Switzerland, Tuscany, Hungary, Dublin, Vienna and Venice. Richard Burton in his full element in this drama as Richard Wagner. It is difficult to think of anyone else who would have brought out this role better than Burton did.
After one hundred and thirty four years after the death of Richard Wagner, he still remains an enigma to many. Bayreuth was not exactly a fairy tale ending for him as he was not flourishing economically even in his last days. His life could be summed up as him being loved and also hated at the same time; he was respected and yet despised. He could be termed as a heroic villain whose exploits and fame brought him worship and he became the hot gossip all over Europe. He remained an incurable romantic and his relationship with Liszt's daughter and Hans von Bulow's wife Cosima was an example of that. He could also be looked as a dangerous revolutionary in politics whose influence had an impact on the German society during the nineteenth century. Whatever may have happened, Wagner became a living legend and no one could deny his influence as a composer of substance of the Romantic era.