Der Ring des Nibelungen: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung.
Mainz: B. Schott's Söhnen, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1874.
Mainz: B. Schott's Söhnen, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1874. First edition. 4 vols. in 1, first editions of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. Contemporary half vellum over marbled boards, red morocco spine label, marbled end papers and page edges died red, an excellent copy of a rare book (see census below). Collation: 75, [1, blank]; 84, [4, ads]; 98, [6, ads]; 86, [5, ads], [1, blank], separate title pages and list of characters to each part. Previous owner's name on the first title page, dated Dec. 1875, and notes about the opening performance in Bayeurth, August 13 - August 17, 1876, apparently while in attendance. Notes about other pre-1900 performances in Dresden, Berlin, New York and Boston.
The complete librettos, bound together, being all the text and stage directions of his 4 part Ring cycle, an opera, from the German National epic, "Das Nibelungen Lied" (The Lay of the Nibelungs), originally written in the 12th century about events that took place in the 6th century, proving the Romans were right to get out when they did. It recalls the exploits of Siegfried the Dragon Slayer, his betrayal and murder, and the revenge of his wife Criemhilda (the real heroine).
And check out this OCLC quickie census of institutional libraries worldwide: Rheingold, 14 copies located. Walküre, 3 copies located. Siegfried, 3 copies located (possibly a 4th, but the entry for it looks wrong). Götterdämmerung, 6 copies located.
No library (none) records having all 4 parts, individually or bound together. Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek, Mainz has 3 of the 4, lacking Siegfried. Herzogin Biblioteck has 2, Rheingold and Siegfried. U. Cal. Berkeley has 2, Rheingold and Walküre. The other 19 parts are splattered around the remainder of the Western world with just a single part in each place.
Wagner (1813–1883) transformed opera (the only venue where people die of love) by first revisiting, then brooding upon, and finally escalating, dramatic, harmonic, and (most famously) instrumental forces beyond any of his predecessors, setting a new and basic, though often ignored, challenge for his successors. The Ring Cycle exemplifies his theories, and it’s conjoined with national epic poetry, the appropriate agent for a masterwork. (Item #831)