Wagner Journal

ShareThis

Featured Book

Twitter

Follow TheWagnerian on Twitter

Archive

Powered by Blogger.

T

 Twylah Fan Page

Opera Today

Watch Now: Alex Ross And The Wagner Legacy

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 30 July 2016 | 5:24:00 pm

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Originally posted Sept 2015

Recently, looking for a video of the great Donald Lambert's Pilgrims Chorus (See the video at the
bottom of the page) Alex Ross' 2012 New Yorker Festival presentation on The Wagner Legacy came up in our search results - surely one of only  a few other people that have discussed Wagner and Lambert?

Persistent readers may recall us bringing this video to your attention 3 years ago (3 years? Where does the time go?). Alas, at that time it was hidden firmly behind one of those detested paywalls. Although, despite this fact we still recommended it for your attention. If however, you did not trust our judgement at that time - and who can blame you - or indeed you didn't see that recommendation, we have some good news for you. It seems the New Yorker has now made the full discussion/lecture available for free.
5:24:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Free Kindle Ebook: Ferdinand Praeger's "Wagner As I knew Him"

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Originally published - July 2013
The famous (or infamous -, depending on how you look at it) Ferdinand Praeger  book "Wagner As I knew Him"   A book that Bayreuth - following Wagner's death - tried to ban (and caused to be withdrawn in Germany) and discredit. A book that may have lead to end of London's first Wagner Society - see here. In English translation. Available here in Kindle, Epub and web format. Simply click the version that you want.
2:15:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

We Need Your Help To Choose The Best Ring Cycle On DVD

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 27 July 2016 | 4:44:00 pm


We need your help again. This year we would like to run a readers vote of what you consider to be the best entire Ring Cycle on video - DVD or Blu-ray.

However, before you vote,  the problem  for us is selecting which productions to include in that  the vote. Only 20 years or so ago, this would have been easy - there were simply not that many Ring cycles that had been recorded on video and then made commercially available. But things are different now and it can seem we have been swamped with productions - not a bad thing.

So, with the above in mind, we would appreciate if you would complete the form below, adding the name of three Ring cycles on DVD that you admire, in no particular order - you will have plenty of time later to select the one you think is the best. And should you only be able to think of one production, or just  two then that's great also.

Again, we would appreciate your help. Please note, we will not record any details about you other than your answers. That includes IP address.

Note: If the embed form does not work for you, you may click this link to go directly to the form

4:44:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Listen Now: Bayreuth Parsifal 2016 - On-Demand

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 26 July 2016 | 3:52:00 pm



As usual, there are a number of sources to listen to this year's Bayreuth Parsifal after its broadcast. In our opinion clicking on the link below, which will launch Bartok Radio's on demand player should give the none German speaker the easiest way of doing this. You may have to forward through it a little bit for the beginning of Parsifal.

3:52:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Eric Laufenberg Explains The Meaning Of His Parsifal

In a recent interview with DW,  Eric Laufenberg had this to say about his interpretation of Parsifal:

This piece basically focuses on the religion of Christianity. On one hand, the grail knights in "Parsifal" inhabit a realm of charity, empathy and sympathy, and they come to the aid of the needy. Then there's the other side: a crucified God, blood rituals and military symbolism.

I believe that Wagner wanted to bring out the factors of benevolence and mystery in this work. Not to openly criticize religion, but to enable one to experience it. That's interesting in our own times of widespread religious fundamentalism - but also in times of a Pope Francis, who has been de-emphasizing the institutional side of the Catholic Church and stressing the factors of mercy, grace and benevolence.

It's always been pertinent to ask: What are religions doing, and are they allowing themselves to be abused for ideological purposes? What do they really stand for?

If you just consider the text, "Parsifal" is difficult, yes. You need the music. It explains so much in detail, and you have to get a sense of that. Such is the case with the happy ending. Wagner knew this would be his last work. At the final uncovering of the Holy Grail, the violins soar upwards, the harmonies become clearer, and everything finally dissipates into nothingness. It's like a final breath, the utopia of a dying man, as it were - a very beautiful, holy, peaceful utopia.
2:00:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Bayreuth: Parsifal 2016 - Some Thoughts

Yesterday, at the end of act one of Eric Laufenberg's new prodcution of Parsifal. I applauded louder than perhaps I have done for a long time at a Bayreuth production. What I had been presented with was a production of high, dramatic, musical standards, a superb cast, a conductor whose "late substitution" had managed to bring out the best of the performers and orchestra. An unusually fast pace that, at least this once, also helped the production (this is not a “Buddhist” or even Schopenhauerian interpretation of the Parsifal). And of course, the always amazing Bayreuth chorus. (I shall listen to it again shortly to reassess my opinion but there it is for now). The production itself brought little new to Wagner's work but this is not always a bad thing – and it was dramatically convincing. Alas , in places, there was a little too much of the"provincial theatre" about it (the 2001 AD A Space Odyssey video comes to mind - and while enjoyable, reminded me of a student production) but this is something that can be worked on. Nevertheless, it remained, relatively faithful to both text and score. However, it was from act two onwards that I became increasingly“uncomfortable” and this continued to the end – although among people here, I am not in the majority.

In the second act, the production seemed to do everything in its power to be insensitive to the religious sensibilities of Islam - although I am not convinced that was Laufenberg's intention. However, in trying to “shoehorn” his concept into Wagner's work, in the heavy-handed manner that he did, this was inevitable - and occasionally cringeworthy. And once Parsifal became an "Western"  Marine, further readings of western dominance and hegemony across the none western world became inevitable in act 3 – if again untended. Is it a good idea, no matter your intentions, in these strange times (or any time), to have a tall, blond, blue eyed, “western” man on a the stage of Bayreuth who proves to be the saviour of all races and all religions? Who shows them all, how “dangerous” and irrational their religions are? A man portrayed in act two as an American Marine, who sublimates a Muslim Klingsor, using the power of the Christian cross to bring him and his empire to heel – care of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in Hammer Horrors first Dracula film? If nothing else, this displays an incredible nativity.


Laufenberg's conclusion, in act three, was one that some readers of Wagner's work and writings, might believe easily fit's in with Wagner's thoughts. In this interpretation, humanity must put aside all religions, being tools (in Wagner's terms - influenced by the young Hegelian's - one of his much hated “ancient contracts”) of control. Its “trappings and symbols being nothing more than “empty edifice”. In the end of the production, the cast throw away all of their religious “trappings” - Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Hindhu, etc into coffin. This might  remind us somewhat of Wagner in Religion and Art, wherein he said “Religion has sunk into an artificial life, when she finds herself compelled to keep on adding to the edifice of her dogmatic symbols”. On first view, this is what Laufenberg's Parsifal seems to say, but in the final act it does nothing to replace these - something that I think Wagner would not have agreed.  Indeed, would he have been happy with the dismissal of these symbols out of hand?

This of course, might be my reading of his production. After all, what was all of that vegetation in act three? A return to “nature”? Who knows. And this maybe the problem. To me, the production provides no alternative. At this stage, and after only one performance, I cannot help but feel that this is a Parsifal for the “Richard Dawkins” generation. A Parsifal that freely mocks and ridicules traditional (and perhaps future) spiritualities – and is happy to blame them for the worlds failures, rather than on those that would use and abuse them for their own means. In this view of reality, there is no value in religious symbology or  more importantly, in spirituality. It is a childish plaything, a throwback to more primitive times and thinking.

But what are Wagner’s thoughts on this? Again returning to Religion and Art, “...it (religion) has always sought the aid of Art; for religion has remained incapable of higher evolution so long as it must present that alleged reality of the symbol to the senses of the worshipper in form of fetishes and idols,— whereas it could only fulfil its true vocation when, by an ideal presentment of the allegoric figure, it led to apprehension of its inner kernel, the truth ineffably divine.”

Indeed, one suspects that Wagner would not have been the friend of this Dawkinsesh, production that, at least, my reading suggests. Going back to Art and Religion– and one must be careful of selectively quoting Wagner I admit:

“ONE might say that where Religion becomes artificial, it is reserved for Art to save the spirit of religion by recognising the figurative value of the mythic symbols which the former would have us believe in their literal sense, and revealing their deep and hidden truth through an ideal presentation.

Whilst the priest stakes everything on the religious allegories being accepted as matters of fact, the artist has no concern at all with such a thing, since he freely and openly gives out his work as his own invention. But Religion has sunk into an artificial life, when she finds herself compelled to keep on adding to the edifice of her dogmatic symbols, and thus conceals the one divinely True in her”.

To see our way clear in this, we should have most carefully to test the origin of religions. These we must certainly deem the more divine, the simpler proves to be their inmost kernel. Now, the deepest basis of every true religion we find in recognition of the frailty of this world, and the consequent charge to free ourselves there from. ...accordingly the most successful work of the religious Founder consisted in the invention of mythic allegories, by which the people might be led along the path of faith to practical observance of the lessons flowing from the collective unconscious.

And it is even possible that this is what this production suggests. If so, it sadly, for me, does not do so well, while doing other things, uncomfortably, badly. But again, I am aware that I am in the minority

WOE

12:08:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Wagner Quote Of The Week: Nietzsche

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 25 July 2016 | 9:20:00 am

"Through Wagner modernity speaks most intimately, concealing neither its good nor its evil—having forgotten all sense of shame. And conversely: one has almost completed an account of the value of what is modern once one has gained clarity about what is good and evil in Wagner.

I understand perfectly when a musician says today: “I hate Wagner, but I can no longer endure any other music.” But I’d also understand a philosopher who would declare: "Wagner sums up modernity. There is no way out, one must first become a Wagnerian.”



Friedrich Nietzsche: The Case For Wagner
9:20:00 am | 0 comments | Read More

You Can Still Buy Tickets To This Year's Bayreuth Ring

There was a time, not that very long ago, when you might have to wait for up to ten years for tickets to Bayrueth. This was especially so for Bayreuth Ring cycles. But how times have changed for it seems that as of right now - on the festival's online ticket shop -  tickets to the second Ring Cycle are still available. Sadly, all other productions are sold out. Whether this speaks much of the reception of Castorf's production or something else we would not venture to guess. To buy tickets, click the link below. Once you are at the page click "Buy Now" and you will enter a "line". When we tested it, not long ago, the wait was about 3 minutes. Once through, you will have 10 minutes to select and buy your tickets.


2:22:00 am | 0 comments | Read More

Where To Hear This Years Bayreuth Festival

A little late again (Ed: Yes. Seems you have to do things yourself around here to get anything done) but please find below a list of links, dates and times where you can listen to this years performances from the Bayreuth Festival. We are trying something different this year by including a link directly to that stations page on Tunein. This should help those with no German - no matter your native language. It will also be useful for those that might use the Tunein app on their phone, Ipad, etc. We have selected Radio Románia Muzical as this seems to be offering the highest bitrate (sound quality) broadcast as of today.

Any feedback as whether this presents the  reader with any issues would be gratefully received. If so, we will make adjustments accordingly. We may be able to assist on the day of transmission but would highly recommend you click a link in advance to make sure it works for you now.

Click below to be taken to the Broadcast. All times discussed are in GMT. Note: there is likely to be a long pre-broadcast talk/program to each broadcast.
1:55:00 am | 0 comments | Read More

Watch The Premiere Of The Bayreuth Parsifal - Free


As more attentive readers will be aware, Bayreuth will be broadcasting the entire Ring cycle free this year on Sky Arts. However, you may not be aware that they are also broadcasting Uwe Eric Laufenberg (2014's replacement for Johnathon Meese) new production of Parsifal, free, on the Internet.  This will start at 14,00, local German time, tomorrow, 25 July 2016

To watch simply click on the link below to BR-Kassik's Website. This will take you straight to the videoplayer which is now in place, displaying a handy countdown clock slowly ticking down to the start time - so no German should be needed to navigate.

We have left this a little late to announce it - SORRY! So, you might want to get it to as many people as you can quickly. Again, sorry!
12:40:00 am | 0 comments | Read More

Deconstruction and the Modern Bayreuth Festival

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 19 July 2016 | 2:55:00 am

The Wagner Journal has, kindly made available for free, an extended essay by Edward A. & Paula M. Bortnichak on the current production of the Frank Castorf Ring. In advance of the entire cycle being broadcast on Sky Arts in July as documented here

The authors discuss the bold interpretations of Wagner's works at Bayreuth over the last decade in the context of deconstructionist approaches to literature and theatre, concluding with a dramaturgical analysis of the Castorf Ring. This landmark article should prove invaluable to anyone intending to see the production, but will also make stimulating and enlightening reading for anyone interested in the staging of Wagner's works in the modern era. The article can be accessed here.


Highly recommended. 
2:55:00 am | 0 comments | Read More

New Issue Of The Wagner Journal


The July 2016 issue (vol.10, no.2), now available, contains the following feature articles:
• 'The "Missing Link" in the Evolution of Wagner's Siegfried by Edward A. and Paula M. Bortnichak

• 'Wagner's Siegfried Act III Scene 1: A Study in "Renunciation of the Will" and the "Sublime" by Richard H. Bell

• 'Steadfast and Upstanding: Franz Wilhelm Beidler, Richard Wagner's Eldest Grandson' by Dagny Beidler

plus reviews of:
Christopher Alden's Tristan und Isolde in Karlsruhe, Mario Corradi's Tannhäuser in Aachen, Mariusz Trelinski's Tristan und Isolde in Baden-Baden, Philipp Stölzl's Rienzi in Berlin and Lynn Binstock's The Rinse Cycle in London

DVDs of various productions at Bayreuth over the last decade

CDs of Lohengrin conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch in Munich (1963) and by Karl Böhm in Vienna (1965), of Die Walküre and Siegfried conducted by Marek Janowski (1981–2), and of Wagner-inspired choral works under the title Rheinmädchen

Bernd Weikl's Swastikas on Stage: Trends in the Productions of Richard Wagner's Operas in German Theaters Today, Gunther Braam's Richard Wagner in der zeitgenössischen Fotografie, The Oxford Handbook of Opera, ed. Helen M. Greenwald and Christian Thielemann's My Life with Wagner
2:30:00 am | 0 comments | Read More

To The People Of France And To The Rest Of Us

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 15 July 2016 | 7:43:00 am


30 years ago or so, I would not have felt compelled to write as much of this as I am about to. The reason was simple: what has happened in Nice is an horrendous, cowardly act. Many, far too many (as if one person was not enough) have died, many more will be injured and hundreds, many children, will carry the psychological trauma of this event for years to come. That would have been enough. No need to say more, but to offer our thoughts, and any help and support we could provide. And indeed, part of me still feels we should leave it there. As I type this I wonder if what I say shall next is wise. Does it “lessen” what has happened?

But it is no longer the same as it was 30 years ago. We have grown more insular, more nationalistic, more fearful of the “other”. Our paranoia as nations, and individuals, has grown and it grows more so everyday. We have also become more reactionary. And events like this simply makes it more so. The “other” becomes a broader category, applied to entire people, countries, races, religions and even to those without a religion

30 years ago, I am unsure, if I would have even felt the need to remind, anyone – perhaps even myself – that events like this are not the result of an entire people, or religion. Instead they are a small group of fanatics with a shared ideology often twisted and distorted from the one they claim to represent. Fanatics of course have always been with us, possibly as long as society has existed. They have been, and remain, of many races, religions, philosophies and ideologies. They have many goals, but important among them is to generate fear , distrust and to increase their own number. When we turn against each other, against our neighbours, against the “other”, when we allow our prejudices and fear to run wild we help them succeed. Alas, events over the past few years, have shown me that they are very good at this. And some countries seem more  easily manipulated than others. To my eternal shame the UK is one such country.  However, this not a time to grow further apart but to grow closer together. And no, this is not about events in a loosely held together political and economic alliance, even if recent and continuous strains in this alliance are a sign, but not the cause, of how insular and fearful we are becoming.

It does not matter if we are part of an economic alliance, what matters now is that we don't let “them” get what they want. We shall not let them make us afraid and paranoid, make us turn against each other, our neighbours against the “other” -  those obviously different . We have only one enemy and they are not a people, a race, a religion but a twisted ideology that lies, cheats, rewards with wealth and uses fear, to expand its number. Let us not help them.

To the people of France, to the people of Nice, let them know we are with them at this time, as we are with all of those people that simply wish to live their lives, but right now, with them most of all.

All men shall become brothers,
wherever your gentle wings hover.
Whoever has been lucky enough
to become a friend to a friend.



7:43:00 am | 0 comments | Read More

Watch Now: Die Walkure. Dutch National Opera. Haenchen

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 11 July 2016 | 10:21:00 pm


Again, brought to us by The Opera Platform

Richard Wagner: DIE WALKÜRE (The Valkyrie)
Opera in three acts
Performed by the Dutch National Opera
The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra is under the baton of Hartmut Haenchen

Cast:
Christopher Ventris - Siegmund
Kurt Rydl - Hunding
Thomas Johannes Mayer - Wotan
Catherine Naglestad - Sieglinde
Catherine Foster - Brünnhilde
Doris Soffel - Fricka
Marion Ammann - Gerhilde
Martina Prins - Ortlinde
Lien Haegeman - Waltraute
Julia Faylenbogen - Schwertleite
Elaine McKrill - Helmwige
Wilke te Brummelstroete - Siegrune
Helena Rasker - Grimgerde
Cécile van de Sant – Rossweisse 
10:21:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Watch Now: Parsifal. Adam Fischer At Wiener Staatsoper



Made available now, and for the net six months, by The Opera Platform

Details:


Richard Wagner: PARSIFAL
"A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage" (“Ein Bühnenweihfestspiel”) in three acts
Performed at the Wiener Staatsoper
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is under the baton of Adam Fischer

Cast:
Michael Volle - Amfortas
Falk Struckmann - Gurnemanz
Stephen Gould - Parsifal
Violeta Urmana - Kundry
Ryan Speedo Green - Titurel
Boaz Daniel - Klingsor
Ulrike Helzel - First Esquire
Hyuna Ko - Second Esquire
Joseph Dennis - Third Esquire
Peter Jelosits - Fourth Esquire
Michael Roider - First Grail Knight
Il Hong - Second Grail Knight
Ileana Tonca - First Flowermaiden, first group
Regine Hangler - Second Flowermaiden, first group
Margaret Plummer - Third Flowermaiden, first group
Annika Gerhards - First Flowermaiden, second group
Caroline Wenborne - Second Flowermaiden, second group
Zoryana Kushpler - Third Flowermaiden, second group
10:11:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Katharina Wagner's Tristan Now On DVD



Katharina Wagner's 2015 production of Tristan und Isolde is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from DG. Details below


9:34:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Scandals in Bayreuth: A brief history of cancelations at the Wagner Festival


It was a last-minute upset, but not unusual for the Bayreuth Festival. Conductor Andris Nelsons called off his opening night performance and will be replaced by Hartmut Haenchen. Here's a history of Bayreuth drop-outs.

The 73-year-old German conductor Hartmut Haenchen was greeted by Bayreuth Festival director Katharina Wagner in a statement released Tuesday (05.07.2016), "I'm very grateful to Maestro Haenchen for declaring his readiness to take over conducting responsibilities for the new production on short notice and am looking forward to his first participation at the Bayreuth Festival."

That production is of Richard Wagner's last work, "Parsifal," written specifically for the "Festspielhaus," his self-designed festival theater, and normally requiring close knowledge of the specific performance conditions there. Haenchen will be joining a team that has been rehearsing since early June: orchestra, chorus, soloists and the stage director Uwe Eric Laufenberg. The team was traumatized when the announcement came on June 30 that star conductor Andris Nelsons had thrown in the towel.

Owing to a differing approach in various matters," Nelsons had requested a termination of contract. The choice of words was so vague that it's occupied the arts world for the past week.

Had he been miffed by unsolicited advice from the festival's music director, Christian Thielemann? Were there differences with the festival management over casting issues? Was the young maestro, described as a warm and outgoing, but also sensitive and somewhat private person, disturbed by the intense security measures recently introduced at the Festspielhaus? Or was Nelsons uncomfortable with Laufenberg's production, in which Wagner's "Parsifal" is set in the context of religions?

All possible explanations were denied, and both the festival and the conductor have adhered to their pledge to keep silent on the issue.

A rich tradition of Bayreuth cancelations

1999: Willy Decker: The experienced German opera director had been commissioned to direct Wagner's "Lohengrin" but backed down just months before, citing "artistic reasons." It was the first time that a designated Bayreuth stage director had stepped down. British director Keith Warner was hired in his place - and delivered a solid rendition of the opera.

2000: Hans Sotin: The famous German baritone had sung every Wagnerian role for the bass voice in Bayreuth - in every season without interruption since 1972. Then, just days before the premiere of "Parsifal," Sotin left the "Green Hill" in a huff, citing "irreconcilable differences" with conductor Christoph Eschenbach. Another baritone was found - and in the following year, another conductor.


Continue Reading






8:20:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Listen To Opera North's Ring Cycle - On Demand


Complete cycle has now been broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and will be available for the next 27 days. To listen, click the relevant link below:


7:51:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Watch Glyndebourne’s Meistersinger - Free


You will have to visit the Telegraph to do so, but it will be available live from 5.30pm (UK time) Tuesday 12 July and then on demand for 7 days there after.

For details click here - and to watch on the dates indicated above

7:42:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Black Mountain - A Reinterpretation Of Parsifal

Nicholas Mockridge, from the artists collective known as "Like a Wild Beast’s Fur,” directed Black Mountain - a short, experimental film based on Parsifal - condensed onto ten minutes.

Said Mockbridge of the film and its "Techo" soundtrack, "“Basically, he (Wagner) invented film music, in a way. These are really simple chord progressions that narrate the story, and we took these chord progressions together with Moritz von Oswald, who created a techno soundtrack with them,”

Discussing the short film its Kundry, Canadian electronic musician and performance artist, "Peaches" said:

“It’s just really difficult because of the whole opera style. So it’s more like a pastiche - or just like fragments of an opera - but I guess it relates to the future; how our attention span is quite short and our technology is quite vast.”
7:21:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

R Scruton: What Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle teaches us about love and politics

Rodger Scruton:

Richard Wagner's four-opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen, which he began in 1848 and on which he worked over the next two decades, is a comprehensive re-working of Old Norse myths, as recounted in the Icelandic Eddas. In Wagner's story, the Viking gods are situated in a German landscape, along with Siegfried, hero of the German medieval epic Nibelungenlied. The Ring Cycle is about the gods, but the gods as conceived by a modern artist, whose concern is to create a myth that will comprehend all the principles – moral, political and spiritual – by which the modern world is governed. It is a story of the gods for people who have no gods to believe in.

That is why The Ring Cycle is of ever-increasing importance to music-lovers in our times. Its theme is the death of the gods, and what the gods have bequeathed to us, namely, the knowledge of, and longing for, the sacred. Until we recognise sacred moments, Wagner implies in this monumental work, we cannot live fully as free beings. These moments are the foundation of all our attempts to endow human life with significance. Despite the controversies that have surrounded this great work – its vast length, its dubious later associations with Nazi thought – it constantly grows on the collective imagination. It is not the answer to life in a post-religious world, but it asks the real questions, and shows us one fruitful way of confronting them. It's hardly surprising that the recent Opera North production of the Ring at the Southbank in London sold out within the space of a day.

When Wagner began work on the cycle, he was, like Karl Marx, a disciple of the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. Like Feuerbach, he believed in the possibility of a political revolution that would free mankind from domination and establish an order of freedom. He even took part in the 1849 revolution in Dresden, where he was court Kapellmeister (the name given to the person in charge of music-making), after which he was forced to flee into exile in Switzerland and France. Some traces of Wagner's early radical political vision remain in the finished work, inspiring Bernard Shaw, in The Perfect Wagnerite (1898), to describe the cycle in Marxist terms, with Siegfried as a revolutionary hero, fighting the monsters of industrial capitalism. Having found himself unable, on this reading, to make sense of Götterdämmerung, Shaw dismissed the last of the four music dramas as mere "grand opera," arguing that Wagner missed the opportunity, in the character of Siegfried, to deliver the agenda for the new socialist man.

Such an interpretation holds little plausibility for us today. The "radical" Wagner of Shaw's imagination sits uneasily with the traditionalism found in his 1867 comedy Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg or the evocation of a religious community in his final work Parsifal (1878). Indeed, during the course of writing the cycle, Wagner came to believe that there could be no political salvation from the ills of civilisation. Like his sometime friend the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, he saw resentment as the default position of human communities, and believed that each of us must achieve redemption for himself, gaining freedom and self-knowledge through our capacity for love. To take this path is difficult. Love condemns us to suffering on another's behalf; this capacity for sympathetic suffering is the highest human virtue, and the only known justification for our existence. Wagner's Ring Cycle, in its finished version, is an attempt to convey why we suffer. Seldom has an artistic intention of such magnitude been so convincingly pursued.

Continue Reading Here
6:44:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

As its Mahler's birthday

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 7 July 2016 | 7:25:00 pm



Mahler, the 9th, Abbado and Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Happy birthday.

"All Mahler symphonies look back nostalgically to the innocent past and having failed to find it, look forward (fearfully or hopefully) to some sense of resolution.” In the 9th, each movement a farewell: the 1st is a farewell to tenderness, passion - human love; the 2nd and 3rd are farewells to life – first to country life, then to urban society; the finale is a farewell to life itself."

Bernstein



7:25:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More