Wagner or Verdi? Really? You need to ask?

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 | 7:23:00 pm

Over at the Telegraph, Ivan Hewett asks a number of opera "experts" who is the better composer: Wagner or Verdi. The panel consisted of Philip Hensher, Rodney Milnes, Antonio Pappano, Robert Jay QC, Roger Scruton, David Pountney, Mark Elder, Peter Konwitschny and John Tomlinson.

And their conclusions? They are both great but in different ways. See what happens when you ask an inane question? You may also, get the odd inane answer.


"Both of them are special, and work their magic through accumulation, and huge forms: both of them should be the objects of pilgrimage" Ivan Hewett

"So I immersed myself with pleasure and instruction in all Verdi, while being disrespectful to Wagner in print." Rodney Milnes

"What they share is much more interesting, a seriousness of purpose allied with a natural temperament for the theatre". Antonio Pappano



"Both Verdi and Wagner were philosophers, but in such different ways" Robert Jay QC


"Yet of course, even at his greatest, he does not have the warmth and humanity of Verdi, which only goes to show that warmth and humanity aren’t everything". Roger Scruton

"Verdi composed the drama of melody, melodrama, contrast. Wagner, that of ideas and transformation" David Pountney

"For a conductor they’re utterly different. Verdi is very physical – you get sweaty conducting his music – whereas Wagner needs small movements" Mark Elder



"Which is the greater composer? Neither. What distinguishes them is merely that one lived north of the Alps, the other South, and that’s a big difference". Peter Konwitschny

"Dramatically these two great composers seem very different to me" John Tomlinson


Read the full article and replies over at the Telegraph.