Wagner's Meistersinger: Performance, History, Representation - Nicholas Vazsony

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 | 10:32:00 pm

Another in our series of good Wagner books you may have missed - suitable for both the "educated reader" (whatever that might mean) and for academic researchers. As always, we try to provide a decent sized preview to allow you to make-up your own mind rather than a review. However, this is a good, solid and entertaining read - and being available for only £17 (having been reprinted in paperback this year) now helps increase our recommendation.

Indeed,  would also, recommend about anything by Vazsony. His "Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand" is a shockingly under mentioned book in Wagner studies. A review of this will follow later.

Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg has been one of the most performed operas ever since its premiere in 1868. It was adopted as Germany's national opera ("Nationaloper"), not least because of its historical coincidence with the unification of Germany under Bismarck in 1871. The first section of this volume, "Performing Meistersinger," contains three commissioned articles from internationally respected artists - a conductor (Peter Schneider), a stage director (Harry Kupfer) and a singer (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau), all experienced in the performance of this unusually demanding 5-hour work. The second section, "Meistersinger and History," examines both the representation of German history in the opera and the way the opera has functioned in history through political appropriation and staging practice. The third section, "Representations," is the most eclectic, exploring in the first place the problematic question of genre from the perspective of a theatrical historian. The chronic issue of Wagner's chief opponent, Eduard Hanslick, and his musical and dramatic representation in the opera as Beckmesser, is then addressed, as are gender issues, and Wagner's own utterances concerning the opera.

Contributors: Nicholas Vazsonyi, Peter Schneider, Harry Kupfer, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hans Rudolf Vaget, Lutz Koepnick, David B. Dennis, Klaus Van Den Berg, Thomas S. Grey, Lydia Goehr, Eva Rieger, Peter Höyng.

Nicholas Vazsonyi is associate professor of German and comparative literature, University of South Carolina.

Reviews

Intellectually speaking, this is a delicious tome . . . an indispensable book. Vazsonyi, Rochester University Press, and the individual essayists are to be roundly congratulated on an outstanding contribution to Wagnerian scholarship. WAGNER NOTES, Wagner Society of NY

This superb volume of essays . . . [is] the best ever published on 'Die Meistersinger' . . . a book that demands to be read by anyone interested in the politics of opera. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE [Barry Millington]

A wonderfully wide-reaching introduction to the extensive field of "Meistersinger" scholarship. CHOICE

Nicholas Vazsonyi has organized a collection of new writings whose eleven authors keep the reader up to date with this abundant literature. More than that, the diverse contributors he has chosen complement one another . . . what results is a book that fulfills its underlying interdisciplinary aim. For readers seriously interested in Wagner it will be both instructive and absorbing. THE OPERA

Nicholas Vazsonyi has assembled a collection of essays that deal with aspects of the opera not necessarily addressed elsewhere, affirming the continuing relevance of the work. This book offers a collection of interdisciplinary studies that should supplement some of the more traditional literature on this seminal work by Wagner. MONATSHEFTE, 2006