Siegfried, as is well known, has an extraordinarily complex history. The story has been told many times, most in a fascinating book by Patrick McCreless, but it always bears retelling. Originally Der junge Siegfried, the work was conceived as a prelude to Siegfrieds Tod; later, of course, the composer decided to add two further ‘preludes’, Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, thus creating the tetralogy as know it. The ‘context’ provided by the Ring is a necessary structural framework, a precondition without which Siegfried, the individual opera, would not exist. But there is another context, one which forces itself on the attention no less pressingly even though it is a mere by-product of the circumstances of composition. Within the Ring, however – as within Wagner’s output as a whole – Siegfried is a climax of exuberance and vitality, its ‘scherzo’ character rivalled only by Meistersinger.