Thread: Opera Small Talk

          
   
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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Since Die Frau is one of my favorite operas, it looks like I'll have to travel there and see it in person.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #542
    Senior Member Involved Member AnaMendoza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Since Die Frau is one of my favorite operas, it looks like I'll have to travel there and see it in person.


    Where's that green-with-envy emoticon when you need it?

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherlock Hamlet View Post
    or a Wagner (as I just can't bring myself to pay for a Ring Cycle opera when I loathe the man, his attitude towards Mendelssohn and fellow Jews, and when I could go and see someone else...if it was with friends, maybe, but even then, he's so bombastic...
    Pardon me, I know it's none of my business and you're perfectly entitled to any reason you have to not go see an opera. I just think it's a bit of a pity that you'll deprive yourself of the Ring, one of the most beautiful pieces of art ever produced by humankind, for reasons linked to Wagner's person and ideology. We need to be able to separate the man from his works, and his works are sublime. Read Maestro Leon Botstein's take on this, in our interview with him. And mind you, he is Jewish, and a descendent of Holocaust survivors - still, he loves Wagner's music and is a proponent of it being performed everywhere including in Israel. Believe me, I dislike Wagner's person and ideology just as much as you do, but *my* life would be of a lesser quality if I didn't have access to the Ring - not to mention many other masterpieces he composed.

    While your refusal to pay for a ticket to see one of Wagner's operas might be a nice symbolic gesture, the man is dead, and has been dead for 130 years. It doesn't affect him one way or the other. It doesn't help the cause of the Jewish people in any way (unless you go and donate the price of the ticket to some Jewish charity or political action committee). It just deprives *you* of his music.

    And as for Wagner being bombastic, if you go, you'll probably notice that in order to fully enjoy Wagner's music you need a total immersion experience. His music only makes sense when you get into the whole wave of sounds and leitmotiv sequences that go on and on during his operas. Fragments might seem bombastic, but the whole thing is overwhelmingly beautiful. My - confessedly unsolicited - advice is: keep loathing the man, but give his music a shot, and your life will be enriched by it. Yes, he was a prick - but a really, really talented prick.

    Please don't take this post as some sort of intrusive rebuke. My intention is good: I just would like to see another opera lover getting from Wagner's music all the pleasure that is there for the taking. I couldn't imagine my musical life without Wagner, and if you get into his operas, I believe that there are good chances that you'll agree with me in the future.

    All the best, Alma
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  5. #544
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnaMendoza View Post


    Where's that green-with-envy emoticon when you need it?

    We do have the green smug one, hehehe.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Member Recent member Sherlock Hamlet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Pardon me, I know it's none of my business and you're perfectly entitled to any reason you have to not go see an opera. I just think it's a bit of a pity that you'll deprive yourself of the Ring, one of the most beautiful pieces of art ever produced by humankind, for reasons linked to Wagner's person and ideology. We need to be able to separate the man from his works, and his works are sublime. Read Maestro Leon Botstein's take on this, in our interview with him. And mind you, he is Jewish, and a descendent of Holocaust survivors - still, he loves Wagner's music and is a proponent of it being performed everywhere including in Israel. Believe me, I dislike Wagner's person and ideology just as much as you do, but *my* life would be of a lesser quality if I didn't have access to the Ring - not to mention many other masterpieces he composed.

    While your refusal to pay for a ticket to see one of Wagner's operas might be a nice symbolic gesture, the man is dead, and has been dead for 130 years. It doesn't affect him one way or the other. It doesn't help the cause of the Jewish people in any way (unless you go and donate the price of the ticket to some Jewish charity or political action committee). It just deprives *you* of his music.

    And as for Wagner being bombastic, if you go, you'll probably notice that in order to fully enjoy Wagner's music you need a total immersion experience. His music only makes sense when you get into the whole wave of sounds and leitmotiv sequences that go on and on during his operas. Fragments might seem bombastic, but the whole thing is overwhelmingly beautiful. My - confessedly unsolicited - advice is: keep loathing the man, but give his music a shot, and your life will be enriched by it. Yes, he was a prick - but a really, really talented prick.

    Please don't take this post as some sort of intrusive rebuke. My intention is good: I just would like to see another opera lover getting from Wagner's music all the pleasure that is there for the taking. I couldn't imagine my musical life without Wagner, and if you get into his operas, I believe that there are good chances that you'll agree with me in the future.

    All the best, Alma
    I don't take it as an intrusive rebuke at all; on the contrary, I much prefer a well-articulated, lengthy response to being quickly brushed off or brushed aside or brushed past and not receiving a response at all.

    I understand your position--it's just one I disagree with, mainly because I disagree with the idea of separating the man and the work when it comes to art...

    When I tutor, and I talk about all the great authors that make up the English canon, oftentimes I get the question--mainly from Spanish-speaking students, as they're mainly who I tutor, being ESL students and my living in that great Latino metropolis, Los Angeles County--how I can feel so passionately about these writers and these works, and know them well enough to pull entire monologues or scenes or paragraphs straight from memory to apply to a student's work, or bring up an author's whole biography and place in the canon to try and help clients put their essays' ideas and concepts into context...how is that the case, they ask?

    And I answer more or less to the affect of (what else) a Shakespeare quote, one of his best:

    "So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee,"

    THAT sums up the arts for me about as perfectly and eloquently as any two lines ever could.
    It's why I want to be a writer myself--to leave not just something of myself behind, but the most worthwhile part--
    My thoughts and feelings.

    All of the Humanities, to me, is like one great big millenia-old ongoing coffee-house discussion...

    Being not just a Jew but an Atheist Jew, I'd be perfectly happy to see a rendition of da Vinci's "The Last Supper" done with Shakespeare in Christ's place and all the Poe's and Homer's and Austen's (though I'm not a great fan of hers) and Woolf's and Dante's and so on all sitting there...

    And maybe across the table from Shakespeare, da Vinci himself is sitting there, deep in conversation with Picasso...

    Plato, Descartes, Kant and Nietzsche are all in a fierce, wine-fueled debate, with the other thinkers looking on (and maybe some late, great journalists like Cronkite and Christopher Hitchens are commenting to themselves on it or joining in)...

    And of course if all THAT is the case, well, you can hardly have a cafe without music, so Mozart and Beethoven and Shostakovich and Bach and all the rest are sitting there as well, writing and performing...Lizst is at the piano, I'm sure...



    The point of that whole fantastical idea?

    Before he died, Hitchens was asked once about Heaven, and his being an atheist...essentially people asking him, "But what if there was a Heaven, wouldn't you, as great a lover of the English canon as you are, like to meet, say, Shakespeare?"

    And Hitch essentially said "I already have--in the works which he left behind...meeting the actual man would almost certainly be a disappointment, really."

    And I agree with that--and that's why I don't care to view Wagner's works...

    Quite simply, he's not the sort of man I "want to meet," as it were.

    He comes off as a terribly appalling person "to meet" in that pamphlet of his...to say nothing of his views on gender...

    It's maybe an extremely odd comparison, but as it's Wednesday and, well, whether it makes sense or not, I love opera for the same reasons I love literature, and both of them for the same reasons I love baseball and think it's the best sport in the world, even today...so maybe this is just on my mind as Major League Baseball announces today who (if anyone) got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame...

    But I take Richard Wagner as sort of The Arts' (albeit loose) equivalent to, say, a Barry Bonds figure--

    An utterly detestable, cold, miserable person with huge blemishes on his work and name...

    But who was ALSO, undoubtedly, one of the most talented men in his field, hands down.

    Wagner and Bonds were and are GIANTS (no pun intended.)

    But they're also people who I wouldn't want to honor, and the same way the hall of Fame would be the ultimate honor for Bonds, having his works performed at every major opera house in the world honors Wagner...

    And I just don't wish to contribute to honoring the man. That's not to say he should be expunged or never listened too...the same way good can sometimes come from bad, even from works which I think are terribly sexist and not exactly kind to the Jews (to put it mildly) and which I'd argue don't sit well with the modern gender or socio-political climate (and I DO think it's fair to hold him to modern standards to an extent, I'll say why in a moment) from all that, still some good might arise, as some might take musical inspiration from Wagner and leave aside all the disgusting ideology connected with his work--

    And certainly that's happened already to a great extent, as pioneering ideas like his attitude towards the relationship between the singers, orchestra, score and drama itself are all still felt, and certainly some are felt in positive ways.

    THAT I can separate from the man...after all, Henry Ford gave us the mass-produced motor car, and HE was an appalling Anti-Semite as well, but his being so has no bearing on his contributions to the assembly line and motor production and other such elements of his legacy.

    But Wagner's actual works, I'd argue, cannot fully be separated from the man...

    Largely because, as with the great writers and artists I gave above, his works are largely a REFLECTION of the man.

    There's absolutely no way, I'd argue, to separate Dante from The Divine Comedy; so much of himself is put into that masterpiece (though for the record I'll take Milton and Paradise Lost for a religious-based epic over Dante's any day) to the extent that he inserts himself and his beloved Beatrice into that poem that, really, he's inextricable from it.

    You can't separate T.S. Eliot completely from The Waste Land, for better or for worse, since that, as with other Eliot poems (["Gerontion" in particular) not only reflects his genius and a very perceptive man's views in both embracing as well as striking back against different aspects of the modern world and Modernism but, sadly, some of the commonplace Anti-Semetism that was such a part of his England (and really the West) to that time.

    I can separate the innovations from Wagner, but not the actual operas themselves, as those wrote and it's there that his ideas and ideology live on and it's there, sadly, that the poison is inextricable again, whatever the other beauty.

    It probably occurs that an explanation seems required for what would appear to be a double-standard at first on my part, namely, that I accept and even rejoice in T.S. Eliot and dearly want to share in his part of "the discussion" and "meet him" through his works when his poetry has a few Anti-Semitic lines while rejecting Wagner on, among other things, such similar grounds.

    Eliot's Anti-Semetism, though, I'd argue, isn't at all the same as Wagner's, in that the former's is expressed fleetingly, impersonally, and isn't malicious but rather reflective--that is, Eliot, maybe more than any other poet post-Milton, LOVES to draw on old ideals, allusions, and tropes, and so it's the stereotype of "the Jew" that we meet in Eliot's poetry, not a malicious attack on actual Jews (he actually had several Jewish friends, including the husband of his good friend Virginia Woolf.)

    That is, Eliot's targeting "the Jew" rather than actual Jews, if that makes sense...in poems which seek to show the conflict between new and old tropes, to leave out one that's so central to English literature and has been there since Chaucer, through Shakespeare, through Dickens, and had come down to him through all that...to NOT address it or put it in would have been to leave out a large (if ugly) portion of the English literary canon, which a poet who used the whole of it the way Eliot did simply couldn't have done, especially with a project that was essentially an evaluation of all art and life, past and present.

    So while it's not at all one of his better points, it's also a minor one, a non-malicious one, one which was also very much a part of his time...and one which he somewhat acknowledged his being wrong in as well, as he gave a lecture pre-WWII on how he felt national unity was contingent on cultural unity and thus felt that it was "undesirable" for large populations of Jews to live in England, not because they were evil or wicked and certainly not because he felt they should all die...but simply because of some abstract ideal he worked out, rather ignorant of the political landscape he was ignoring--

    Post-WWII he never had that lecture re-printed or re-published, never spoke of such things again...and for me, that's not perfect, but it's enough--our heroes aren't saints, after all, so while a full mea culpa would've been ideal, his at least recognizing it wasn't appropriate to hold or express such a view, and certainly not post-WWII, coupled with the relatively-mild nature of his offense, is enough for me to be able to celebrate him as he deserves, flaws and all.

    Wagner's not like that.

    Wagner's works ARE very personal attacks on Jews (his personally attacking Mendelssohn and other Jews in music in that despicable pamphlet of his, and then his character of Loki is believed by some to be an Anti-Semitic representation, a view strengthened as Wagner's very much a black-and-white sort of idealist, so while Siegfried comes to represent this bastion of supposed-Germanic heroism and magnificence, Loki comes to represent the opposite, someone weak and undeserving...in his might-makes-right view, the strong Siegfried thus validates the German people both by raising them up and by doing so at the expense of the Jews and their indirect representation, Loki.)

    It's not like Eliot's poems, thus, where it's a concept and not really a people in an ethnic or cultural sense that are being attacked or vilified...

    It's not like Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, where Shakespeare makes Shylock the villain (or possibly an anti-hero, as is increasingly performed today) and very flawed, but also makes him complex, gives him some pretty reasonable reasons for being so vindictive (people are literally spitting in his face and breaking deals with him just because he's a Jew, after all, so between that, his own daughter rejecting him and her Judaic roots, and his wife dying just before the play begins, Shakespeare gives us PLENTY of reasons to feel somewhat sympathetic towards and understanding of Shylock's bitterness) and on top of that gives him not only one of the most eloquent and best-crafted speeches in the play--"Hath not a Jew eyes?"--but in all his canon...so Shakespeare might make him a villain or in the wrong, but doesn't treat the case as black and white, and gives Shylock and, as such, the Jews their side of the argument as well...

    It's not like in Dickens, where he made Fagin out to be a rather miserable Jewish stereotype before scaling it back a bit as he recognized he was probably going a bit too far and being too bigoted, and thus giving reason to forgive the transgression and see that Dickens made a mistake but caught it, and strove to eliminate it, as he didn't want to stand for THAT sort of thing...

    Wagner has no such defense. His written and operatic work is Anti-Semitic and anti-feminist at that...

    And I let Milton slide a bit, as his misogyny wasn't too out of place given his time and place, but Wagner...the 1800's weren't the best of times for women (to put it mildly) but Wagner still IS far behind even his own times' standards for women...Austen and the Brontes pre-date him, as do several other great female authors in the English language as well as on the Continent, and Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and other such figures in Russia were already far ahead of him as well, so while Milton's treatment of women as though he lived in a 1600's all-white, all-male, all-Christian society makes sense as, well, that IS when Milton lived, that Wagner is 200 years behind even his own time's meek steps towards suffrage and progressive feminism is telling.

    There's then that quote where he wishes all Jews would burn in one big opera house fire...which doesn't look good period, but especially not post-1945.

    I may be wrong in saying so, but I DON'T think it's unfair to link Wagner to the Nazis, or say that Hitler twisted his ideology and used it for foul purposes...because while I'm sure Wagner never had any Final Solution planned, his ideology insofar as Hitler embraced it was hardly distorted.

    By contrast, the man who broke off ties with Wagner to go on to be one of the most stirring philosophers to date, Friedrich Nietzsche, WAS distorted by Hitler (as his concept of the Superman is quite different from Hitler's, he HATED the idea of over-nationalism, fascism, and pretty much everything the Nazis stood for politically, and his dislike was of the Jewish FAITH as well as the Christian faith, NOT the actual Jewish people themselves, who he had a modicum of respect for due to their weathering so much over the years) and by his Anti-Semitic mother and sisters, which was thankfully recognized after WWII when the pre-Sisters manuscripts were found and his works restored to their proper state, free of those distorting Anti-Semitic influences.

    By contrast, there was no real twisting around of Wagner's ideas; at most there was an expansion of their idealistic implications beyond the bounds of what Wagner probably intended (as again, foul as he was, I doubt even he would have been OK with actually burning most of Europe's Jewish population like that) but even there...the overly-nationalistic, imperialistic ideals are right there...

    It's not, as was the case with Nietzsche, a case of people coming along and twisting his words, and not, as was the case with Nazi productions of Shakespeare plays, their completely changing the ideology of the works to fit their own...

    Wagner doesn't necessitate Nazism and fascism, but it DOES fit into it perfectly, without any need to twist or alter it.

    I LOVE epics (in case the Milton, Homer, Dante and Shakespeare didn't give it away, lol)...

    So it IS sad that what is probably the most well-known epic in opera is one that's full of ideas I can't stand.

    I can accept Homer's often male-centric worldview as he not only DID live 2,500+ years ago, but does have some decent female roles, like, say, Penelope, the goddesses, Hecuba, and even Helen, for as troublesome as she is, has her moments.
    I can accept Dante's religious intolerance in placing Muhammad in his hell (rather graphically) as, well, 1. Just about everyone in Medieval Europe was religiously intolerant, the same goes for Chaucer, and 2. I AM an atheist, after all.
    I can accept Shakespeare's overt nationalistic pride in The Henriad and his rather overt putting down of the French as he DOES explore whether Henry V's war is really just, his Histories were essentially commissioned propaganda, and hey, it's OK to be be patriotic, which the Henrys definitely are (and then some.)

    Every great author has views which aren't savory or are in error or are errant somehow...and that's fine...

    But with the great wealth of talent that is available to take in, if someone goes too far, then it's hardly a strain to leave said person alone...

    Treating them as all at a cafe in The Greatest Discussion of All-Time...

    It's quite easy for me, thus, to see Wagner coming this way and easily turn around and listen to Mozart or Hemingway or Tchaikovsky or Shostakovich or Joyce and so on.

    I really DO wish there was an epic on par with The Ring that wasn't Wagner's...

    Berlioz's Les Troyens is so long and deals with an epic subject matter in Troy that it might count somewhat...

    But I think Wagner's irreparably damaged (even with defenders claiming, as I did with Eliot, that he had some Jewish friends.)

    If I were to name an analogue of Wagner's in the literary world, the first name that would come to mind is Rudyard Kipling.
    The similarities are very evident...
    The comparison pretty justified and easy to see, I think.

    Both Wagner and Kipling were among the best artists of their time.

    That being said, Kipling is read and taught A LOT LESS than he was even a generation ago...

    Where Eliot took a bit of a hit after the Holocaust but still largely retains his spot as The English Poet of the Modernist Era...

    Kipling, due to his pro-imperialistic, pro-white, and notoriously racist and bigoted content, has seen his star fade immensely...he's still read and still a name, and likely will remain so...but he's looked upon by many with a lot of scorn, no longer seen as a great beacon of poetic and prosaic mastery so much as a good or great writer who is remembered now more for reflecting all that was WRONG with his time and his thoughts than his values.

    And the same charge is levied at Wagner--he'll never die, he's here to say, and deservedly so...

    But his reputation's taken a similar, deserved hit, and his ideas hinder his musical statement more than they help it; what's more, ironically, as Nietzsche and Wagner split partially over ideological differences and partly because they just came to clash with one another, and as Nietzsche's popularity has continued to rise in the last century, first for his existential ideals and his influence on Sartre and thinkers on the Continent and more recently for his role as one of the pioneers of modern Atheism as that ideal has grown more and more popular and accepted in the intellectual sphere, with a considerable amount of his ideology so far as artistic and literary criticism goes being forged in later years in opposition to Wagner's (to the point a whole work of his is called Nietzsche Contra Wagner) the critical ascension of Nietzsche, whom Wagner once cast aside, now may be seen as coming at the expense in cases of Wagner and Wagnerian critical theory.





    Granted all that could be just my WAY over-thinking the matter and, being an English major and literature person first, taking Wagner level instead of a purely musical one, which might allow for greater enjoyment...

    But then Wagner DID *WRITE* The Ring and it is hailed as a great written, epic work, so I think that's fair; if anything, I'd argue that it's being faithful to his intent to take it as a work of literature as well as a musical masterpiece and evaluate it thus.

    So I understand why people like Wagner and why, if people are more focused on the music than the message (or else interpret the themes and messages differently) they may find Wagner a treat still--I just disagree.

    He's by no means a BAD composer, he IS a good one (though even if all his ideologies were thrown out, musically I couldn't see him cracking my Top 5--Mozart, Bach, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, and #5 is always changing--or possibly even my own personal Top 10...leaving out Gilbert and Sullivan, as comparing them to the other opera composers here is like apples to oranges, looking at the many composers that fill m iPod...I wouldn't bump many for Wagner...the aforementioned Great Quartet of Composers for me above I'd take over him...Beethoven...Rossini and Verdi...Lizst...Shostakovich...Mendelssohn...Berli oz...and so on...I might bump Richard Strauss for him, but still...)

    It's just with all the other great choices of people to "sit" and "chat" with in The Great Discussion...

    I'd rather get a drink with so many, many others besides Wagner.

    So maybe I'll see The Ring someday (if for no other reasons a fellow opera friend of mine saw it and found it laughably overwrought, which might be more the production's fault than Wagner's, though his reputation IS rather one of his being very over-the-top) with friends, but for now, I'm content with so many other composers to get to know all the better.
    "There are more things in heaven and earth then are dreamt of in your philosophy" --Hamlet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherlock Hamlet View Post
    I don't take it as an intrusive rebuke at all; on the contrary, I much prefer a well-articulated, lengthy response to being quickly brushed off or brushed aside or brushed past and not receiving a response at all.

    I understand your position--it's just one I disagree with, mainly because I disagree with the idea of separating the man and the work when it comes to art...

    When I tutor, and I talk about all the great authors that make up the English canon, oftentimes I get the question--mainly from Spanish-speaking students, as they're mainly who I tutor, being ESL students and my living in that great Latino metropolis, Los Angeles County--how I can feel so passionately about these writers and these works, and know them well enough to pull entire monologues or scenes or paragraphs straight from memory to apply to a student's work, or bring up an author's whole biography and place in the canon to try and help clients put their essays' ideas and concepts into context...how is that the case, they ask?

    And I answer more or less to the affect of (what else) a Shakespeare quote, one of his best:

    "So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee,"

    THAT sums up the arts for me about as perfectly and eloquently as any two lines ever could.
    It's why I want to be a writer myself--to leave not just something of myself behind, but the most worthwhile part--
    My thoughts and feelings.

    All of the Humanities, to me, is like one great big millenia-old ongoing coffee-house discussion...

    Being not just a Jew but an Atheist Jew, I'd be perfectly happy to see a rendition of da Vinci's "The Last Supper" done with Shakespeare in Christ's place and all the Poe's and Homer's and Austen's (though I'm not a great fan of hers) and Woolf's and Dante's and so on all sitting there...

    And maybe across the table from Shakespeare, da Vinci himself is sitting there, deep in conversation with Picasso...

    Plato, Descartes, Kant and Nietzsche are all in a fierce, wine-fueled debate, with the other thinkers looking on (and maybe some late, great journalists like Cronkite and Christopher Hitchens are commenting to themselves on it or joining in)...

    And of course if all THAT is the case, well, you can hardly have a cafe without music, so Mozart and Beethoven and Shostakovich and Bach and all the rest are sitting there as well, writing and performing...Lizst is at the piano, I'm sure...



    The point of that whole fantastical idea?

    Before he died, Hitchens was asked once about Heaven, and his being an atheist...essentially people asking him, "But what if there was a Heaven, wouldn't you, as great a lover of the English canon as you are, like to meet, say, Shakespeare?"

    And Hitch essentially said "I already have--in the works which he left behind...meeting the actual man would almost certainly be a disappointment, really."

    And I agree with that--and that's why I don't care to view Wagner's works...

    Quite simply, he's not the sort of man I "want to meet," as it were.

    He comes off as a terribly appalling person "to meet" in that pamphlet of his...to say nothing of his views on gender...

    It's maybe an extremely odd comparison, but as it's Wednesday and, well, whether it makes sense or not, I love opera for the same reasons I love literature, and both of them for the same reasons I love baseball and think it's the best sport in the world, even today...so maybe this is just on my mind as Major League Baseball announces today who (if anyone) got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame...

    But I take Richard Wagner as sort of The Arts' (albeit loose) equivalent to, say, a Barry Bonds figure--

    An utterly detestable, cold, miserable person with huge blemishes on his work and name...

    But who was ALSO, undoubtedly, one of the most talented men in his field, hands down.

    Wagner and Bonds were and are GIANTS (no pun intended.)

    But they're also people who I wouldn't want to honor, and the same way the hall of Fame would be the ultimate honor for Bonds, having his works performed at every major opera house in the world honors Wagner...

    And I just don't wish to contribute to honoring the man. That's not to say he should be expunged or never listened too...the same way good can sometimes come from bad, even from works which I think are terribly sexist and not exactly kind to the Jews (to put it mildly) and which I'd argue don't sit well with the modern gender or socio-political climate (and I DO think it's fair to hold him to modern standards to an extent, I'll say why in a moment) from all that, still some good might arise, as some might take musical inspiration from Wagner and leave aside all the disgusting ideology connected with his work--

    And certainly that's happened already to a great extent, as pioneering ideas like his attitude towards the relationship between the singers, orchestra, score and drama itself are all still felt, and certainly some are felt in positive ways.

    THAT I can separate from the man...after all, Henry Ford gave us the mass-produced motor car, and HE was an appalling Anti-Semite as well, but his being so has no bearing on his contributions to the assembly line and motor production and other such elements of his legacy.

    But Wagner's actual works, I'd argue, cannot fully be separated from the man...

    Largely because, as with the great writers and artists I gave above, his works are largely a REFLECTION of the man.

    There's absolutely no way, I'd argue, to separate Dante from The Divine Comedy; so much of himself is put into that masterpiece (though for the record I'll take Milton and Paradise Lost for a religious-based epic over Dante's any day) to the extent that he inserts himself and his beloved Beatrice into that poem that, really, he's inextricable from it.

    You can't separate T.S. Eliot completely from The Waste Land, for better or for worse, since that, as with other Eliot poems (["Gerontion" in particular) not only reflects his genius and a very perceptive man's views in both embracing as well as striking back against different aspects of the modern world and Modernism but, sadly, some of the commonplace Anti-Semetism that was such a part of his England (and really the West) to that time.

    I can separate the innovations from Wagner, but not the actual operas themselves, as those wrote and it's there that his ideas and ideology live on and it's there, sadly, that the poison is inextricable again, whatever the other beauty.

    It probably occurs that an explanation seems required for what would appear to be a double-standard at first on my part, namely, that I accept and even rejoice in T.S. Eliot and dearly want to share in his part of "the discussion" and "meet him" through his works when his poetry has a few Anti-Semitic lines while rejecting Wagner on, among other things, such similar grounds.

    Eliot's Anti-Semetism, though, I'd argue, isn't at all the same as Wagner's, in that the former's is expressed fleetingly, impersonally, and isn't malicious but rather reflective--that is, Eliot, maybe more than any other poet post-Milton, LOVES to draw on old ideals, allusions, and tropes, and so it's the stereotype of "the Jew" that we meet in Eliot's poetry, not a malicious attack on actual Jews (he actually had several Jewish friends, including the husband of his good friend Virginia Woolf.)

    That is, Eliot's targeting "the Jew" rather than actual Jews, if that makes sense...in poems which seek to show the conflict between new and old tropes, to leave out one that's so central to English literature and has been there since Chaucer, through Shakespeare, through Dickens, and had come down to him through all that...to NOT address it or put it in would have been to leave out a large (if ugly) portion of the English literary canon, which a poet who used the whole of it the way Eliot did simply couldn't have done, especially with a project that was essentially an evaluation of all art and life, past and present.

    So while it's not at all one of his better points, it's also a minor one, a non-malicious one, one which was also very much a part of his time...and one which he somewhat acknowledged his being wrong in as well, as he gave a lecture pre-WWII on how he felt national unity was contingent on cultural unity and thus felt that it was "undesirable" for large populations of Jews to live in England, not because they were evil or wicked and certainly not because he felt they should all die...but simply because of some abstract ideal he worked out, rather ignorant of the political landscape he was ignoring--

    Post-WWII he never had that lecture re-printed or re-published, never spoke of such things again...and for me, that's not perfect, but it's enough--our heroes aren't saints, after all, so while a full mea culpa would've been ideal, his at least recognizing it wasn't appropriate to hold or express such a view, and certainly not post-WWII, coupled with the relatively-mild nature of his offense, is enough for me to be able to celebrate him as he deserves, flaws and all.

    Wagner's not like that.

    Wagner's works ARE very personal attacks on Jews (his personally attacking Mendelssohn and other Jews in music in that despicable pamphlet of his, and then his character of Loki is believed by some to be an Anti-Semitic representation, a view strengthened as Wagner's very much a black-and-white sort of idealist, so while Siegfried comes to represent this bastion of supposed-Germanic heroism and magnificence, Loki comes to represent the opposite, someone weak and undeserving...in his might-makes-right view, the strong Siegfried thus validates the German people both by raising them up and by doing so at the expense of the Jews and their indirect representation, Loki.)

    It's not like Eliot's poems, thus, where it's a concept and not really a people in an ethnic or cultural sense that are being attacked or vilified...

    It's not like Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, where Shakespeare makes Shylock the villain (or possibly an anti-hero, as is increasingly performed today) and very flawed, but also makes him complex, gives him some pretty reasonable reasons for being so vindictive (people are literally spitting in his face and breaking deals with him just because he's a Jew, after all, so between that, his own daughter rejecting him and her Judaic roots, and his wife dying just before the play begins, Shakespeare gives us PLENTY of reasons to feel somewhat sympathetic towards and understanding of Shylock's bitterness) and on top of that gives him not only one of the most eloquent and best-crafted speeches in the play--"Hath not a Jew eyes?"--but in all his canon...so Shakespeare might make him a villain or in the wrong, but doesn't treat the case as black and white, and gives Shylock and, as such, the Jews their side of the argument as well...

    It's not like in Dickens, where he made Fagin out to be a rather miserable Jewish stereotype before scaling it back a bit as he recognized he was probably going a bit too far and being too bigoted, and thus giving reason to forgive the transgression and see that Dickens made a mistake but caught it, and strove to eliminate it, as he didn't want to stand for THAT sort of thing...

    Wagner has no such defense. His written and operatic work is Anti-Semitic and anti-feminist at that...

    And I let Milton slide a bit, as his misogyny wasn't too out of place given his time and place, but Wagner...the 1800's weren't the best of times for women (to put it mildly) but Wagner still IS far behind even his own times' standards for women...Austen and the Brontes pre-date him, as do several other great female authors in the English language as well as on the Continent, and Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and other such figures in Russia were already far ahead of him as well, so while Milton's treatment of women as though he lived in a 1600's all-white, all-male, all-Christian society makes sense as, well, that IS when Milton lived, that Wagner is 200 years behind even his own time's meek steps towards suffrage and progressive feminism is telling.

    There's then that quote where he wishes all Jews would burn in one big opera house fire...which doesn't look good period, but especially not post-1945.

    I may be wrong in saying so, but I DON'T think it's unfair to link Wagner to the Nazis, or say that Hitler twisted his ideology and used it for foul purposes...because while I'm sure Wagner never had any Final Solution planned, his ideology insofar as Hitler embraced it was hardly distorted.

    By contrast, the man who broke off ties with Wagner to go on to be one of the most stirring philosophers to date, Friedrich Nietzsche, WAS distorted by Hitler (as his concept of the Superman is quite different from Hitler's, he HATED the idea of over-nationalism, fascism, and pretty much everything the Nazis stood for politically, and his dislike was of the Jewish FAITH as well as the Christian faith, NOT the actual Jewish people themselves, who he had a modicum of respect for due to their weathering so much over the years) and by his Anti-Semitic mother and sisters, which was thankfully recognized after WWII when the pre-Sisters manuscripts were found and his works restored to their proper state, free of those distorting Anti-Semitic influences.

    By contrast, there was no real twisting around of Wagner's ideas; at most there was an expansion of their idealistic implications beyond the bounds of what Wagner probably intended (as again, foul as he was, I doubt even he would have been OK with actually burning most of Europe's Jewish population like that) but even there...the overly-nationalistic, imperialistic ideals are right there...

    It's not, as was the case with Nietzsche, a case of people coming along and twisting his words, and not, as was the case with Nazi productions of Shakespeare plays, their completely changing the ideology of the works to fit their own...

    Wagner doesn't necessitate Nazism and fascism, but it DOES fit into it perfectly, without any need to twist or alter it.

    I LOVE epics (in case the Milton, Homer, Dante and Shakespeare didn't give it away, lol)...

    So it IS sad that what is probably the most well-known epic in opera is one that's full of ideas I can't stand.

    I can accept Homer's often male-centric worldview as he not only DID live 2,500+ years ago, but does have some decent female roles, like, say, Penelope, the goddesses, Hecuba, and even Helen, for as troublesome as she is, has her moments.
    I can accept Dante's religious intolerance in placing Muhammad in his hell (rather graphically) as, well, 1. Just about everyone in Medieval Europe was religiously intolerant, the same goes for Chaucer, and 2. I AM an atheist, after all.
    I can accept Shakespeare's overt nationalistic pride in The Henriad and his rather overt putting down of the French as he DOES explore whether Henry V's war is really just, his Histories were essentially commissioned propaganda, and hey, it's OK to be be patriotic, which the Henrys definitely are (and then some.)

    Every great author has views which aren't savory or are in error or are errant somehow...and that's fine...

    But with the great wealth of talent that is available to take in, if someone goes too far, then it's hardly a strain to leave said person alone...

    Treating them as all at a cafe in The Greatest Discussion of All-Time...

    It's quite easy for me, thus, to see Wagner coming this way and easily turn around and listen to Mozart or Hemingway or Tchaikovsky or Shostakovich or Joyce and so on.

    I really DO wish there was an epic on par with The Ring that wasn't Wagner's...

    Berlioz's Les Troyens is so long and deals with an epic subject matter in Troy that it might count somewhat...

    But I think Wagner's irreparably damaged (even with defenders claiming, as I did with Eliot, that he had some Jewish friends.)

    If I were to name an analogue of Wagner's in the literary world, the first name that would come to mind is Rudyard Kipling.
    The similarities are very evident...
    The comparison pretty justified and easy to see, I think.

    Both Wagner and Kipling were among the best artists of their time.

    That being said, Kipling is read and taught A LOT LESS than he was even a generation ago...

    Where Eliot took a bit of a hit after the Holocaust but still largely retains his spot as The English Poet of the Modernist Era...

    Kipling, due to his pro-imperialistic, pro-white, and notoriously racist and bigoted content, has seen his star fade immensely...he's still read and still a name, and likely will remain so...but he's looked upon by many with a lot of scorn, no longer seen as a great beacon of poetic and prosaic mastery so much as a good or great writer who is remembered now more for reflecting all that was WRONG with his time and his thoughts than his values.

    And the same charge is levied at Wagner--he'll never die, he's here to say, and deservedly so...

    But his reputation's taken a similar, deserved hit, and his ideas hinder his musical statement more than they help it; what's more, ironically, as Nietzsche and Wagner split partially over ideological differences and partly because they just came to clash with one another, and as Nietzsche's popularity has continued to rise in the last century, first for his existential ideals and his influence on Sartre and thinkers on the Continent and more recently for his role as one of the pioneers of modern Atheism as that ideal has grown more and more popular and accepted in the intellectual sphere, with a considerable amount of his ideology so far as artistic and literary criticism goes being forged in later years in opposition to Wagner's (to the point a whole work of his is called Nietzsche Contra Wagner) the critical ascension of Nietzsche, whom Wagner once cast aside, now may be seen as coming at the expense in cases of Wagner and Wagnerian critical theory.





    Granted all that could be just my WAY over-thinking the matter and, being an English major and literature person first, taking Wagner level instead of a purely musical one, which might allow for greater enjoyment...

    But then Wagner DID *WRITE* The Ring and it is hailed as a great written, epic work, so I think that's fair; if anything, I'd argue that it's being faithful to his intent to take it as a work of literature as well as a musical masterpiece and evaluate it thus.

    So I understand why people like Wagner and why, if people are more focused on the music than the message (or else interpret the themes and messages differently) they may find Wagner a treat still--I just disagree.

    He's by no means a BAD composer, he IS a good one (though even if all his ideologies were thrown out, musically I couldn't see him cracking my Top 5--Mozart, Bach, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, and #5 is always changing--or possibly even my own personal Top 10...leaving out Gilbert and Sullivan, as comparing them to the other opera composers here is like apples to oranges, looking at the many composers that fill m iPod...I wouldn't bump many for Wagner...the aforementioned Great Quartet of Composers for me above I'd take over him...Beethoven...Rossini and Verdi...Lizst...Shostakovich...Mendelssohn...Berli oz...and so on...I might bump Richard Strauss for him, but still...)

    It's just with all the other great choices of people to "sit" and "chat" with in The Great Discussion...

    I'd rather get a drink with so many, many others besides Wagner.

    So maybe I'll see The Ring someday (if for no other reasons a fellow opera friend of mine saw it and found it laughably overwrought, which might be more the production's fault than Wagner's, though his reputation IS rather one of his being very over-the-top) with friends, but for now, I'm content with so many other composers to get to know all the better.
    ok

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  9. #547
    Senior Member Involved Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    I very much enjoyed reading your post, but there are various things I take issue with.

    For one, I dont feel you have fully justified your self-acknowledged double standard.

    The first being that, for some artists, the political views they held which are now deemed unacceptable were commonplace at their time, and therefore you dont consider this an issue. This seems to apply, in your view, to all artists except Wagner. Even Auden is pardoned despite the fact that he worked and lived entirely during the 20th century, and it took the holocaust for him to shut up about it.
    [I'd like to point out that in many ways Wagner was ahead of time; he was a staunch advocate of animal rights]

    But, as you say, "our heroes aren't saints". This is a sentiment I fully agree with.
    For you this again does not apply to Wagner, as you note a supposed difference in the nature of their antisemitism:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherlock Hamlet View Post

    I can separate the innovations from Wagner, but not the actual operas themselves, as those wrote and it's there that his ideas and ideology live on and it's there, sadly, that the poison is inextricable again, whatever the other beauty.

    So while it's not at all one of his better points, it's also a minor one, a non-malicious one, one which was also very much a part of his time...and one which he somewhat acknowledged his being wrong in as well, as he gave a lecture pre-WWII on how he felt national unity was contingent on cultural unity and thus felt that it was "undesirable" for large populations of Jews to live in England, not because they were evil or wicked and certainly not because he felt they should all die...but simply because of some abstract ideal he worked out, rather ignorant of the political landscape he was ignoring--
    I think you are mistaken here. Wagner's anti-semitism (while more extreme) is of the same nature. Bryan Magee has summarised his views thus:
    A really great creative artist is one who, in freely expressing his own fantasies, needs, aspirations and conflicts, articulates those of a whole society. This is made possible by the fact that, through his earliest relationships, mother tongue, upbringing and all his first experience of life, the cultural heritage on which he has entered at birth is woven into the whole fabric of his personality.... So that when he speaks for himself he quite unconsciously speaks for others. Now in Wagner's time it was impossible for a Jewish artist to be in this position. The ghettoes of Western Europe had only begun to be opened in the wake of the French Revolution, and their abolition was going on throughout the 19th C. The Jewish composers of Wagner's day were among the very first emancipated Jews, pastless in the society in which they were living and working. THey spoke its language with, literally, a foreign accent. In composing it's music - including, quite often, Church music - they were turning their backs on a distinctive and entirely different musical tradition of their own. So their art could not possible be "the conscious and proclaimed unconscious", which Wagner believed all great art to be....
    Wagner is substantially correct here, but, unlike in many of his other ideas, failed to see the greater context - being that this was a transitional period and that as Jews become more absorbed in society they would become much more succesful. Indeed, soon after Wagner's death we see Jewish composers such as Schoenberg, Mahler, etc... reaching great heights.

    In my opinion the views he held are comparable to those of Auden, and perhaps even a little less scary. The unfortunate thing is that Wagner spent the first half of his working life in extreme poverty fleeing his debtors and in exile from his country, fearing arrest. Psychologically these are stressful situations; in today's world we see similar situations produce mental illness, dependence on drugs etc.... Wagner, holding the views above, and being jealous of the Jew's successes, instead coped by placing a blame on them, which became a bitter resentment.

    Wagner's antisemitism, insofar as it goes beyond that of Auden's, is really just a psychological phenomenon, and not one that he fully assimilated into his later philosophy (which is entirely equal to that of Schopenhauer's). He still had Jewish friends in spite of it all.

    Finally, I will make the bold claim that there is no trace of antisemitism in any of his operas. Wagner wrote extensively on the ideas behind each of his works, talked at great length about them to his wife or to Nietzsche during their creation (recorded in diaries), and kept an idealized account of their inspirations in his autobiography. None of these sources mention any antisemitic ideas in the works at all, whereas in other matters he continued to be quite open about it.

  10. #548
    Schigolch
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    Thanks God this is the thread for *small* talk!.

    Just to remind everyone: Politics and Religion are banned subjects here at Opera Lively. What's that means?. In my view, to talk about Wagner, the man, his views on Jews and Judaism, his influence on Nazism,... is fair game. We are discussing about one of the greatest Opera composers of all time, after all. But let's try not to embrace other examples, not related to Opera, and bring them onto the discussion.

    About this matter, my personal opinion is that Wagner's antisemitism is one thing, and his music, another thing. I struggle to see anyway open or even not-that-open references to Judaism on his operas.

  11. #549
    Member Recent member Sherlock Hamlet's Avatar
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    As a quick coda:

    I suppose if I make all those claims about The Ring it probably would be wise to name an opera I LIKE in terms of theme and characterization--

    So to go with one of my all-time favorites...Eugene Onegin.

    THAT genuinely feels like not only a worthy adaptation of Pushkin's great poem, the same way Wagner's adapting his story from myth, but it also, in my opinion, avoids that black-and-white, good-or-bad, strong-or-weak over-simplification in characterization Wagner struggles with.

    Onegin is a definite complex character--he has good points to him, he has flaws, he wrestles with those flaws...
    Lensky serves as a good foil for Onegin...
    The Duel is one of my favorite moments in all opera, and their shared aria in NOT wanting to duel comes off almost like a Shakespearean monologue in terms of its emotional as well as psychological depth, and really adds to the tragedy of the situation...
    The dealing with high society is handled well...
    Action and inaction are explored, and both have consequences, so it's not a simple solution...
    Tatyana is a female character with some depth and backbone, not just the reward for the hero (far from it!)...

    THIS feels like a story told on a grand level, worthy of the Russian Epic mantle, and retains the complexity Shakespeare and Pushkin (both influences here) have that I feel Wagner sorely lacks in his writing.

    To be fair, he's a composer first, but as he also wrote the story for The Ring, it seems a fair point.

    I'm willing to take an opera that puts the music first and not criticize the libretto too much in a literary sense...

    But in Wagner's case, he does seem to be going for something literary at least in part, so it seems fair to judge it as such (which, in its own way, is a compliment to his aspirations, if nothing else.)
    "There are more things in heaven and earth then are dreamt of in your philosophy" --Hamlet

  12. #550
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    @Sherlock Homes

    My friend, I'm sorry if this sounds condescending, but your opinions on the Ring are sort of transparently obviously the ones by someone who... erm... hasn't seen the Ring (which you have confirmed)!

    This is patently clear when you say that Siegfried is some sort of great ideal of German heroism. No, actually Siegfried is depicted as a naive and obnoxious fool who can be manipulated at will. Anti-hero is more like it. Brute force without brains.

    Then you say that the Ring is anti-feminist. Like Amfortas has pointed out, by far the strongest character in the Ring, the one whose qualities of righteousness, intelligence, sensitivity, loyalty, inner strength, and heroism are *most* upheld throughout three fourths of the work, is a woman, Brünnhilde. You get the boss god, Wotan, the ultimate male archetype there, and his wife Fricka has him around her little finger and pretty much dictates what he needs to do, and even though he hates it, he can't do otherwise, and obeys her. Wotan becomes badly emasculated when he faces his wife. Donner and Froh? Totally impotent and ineffective. The wisest character? Erda, a woman. The Ring, anti-feminist??? Where did you get that notion from???

    Then, you say that Wagner's characters are simple, black-and-white, and constructed in binary opposition. Whoa! You seriously need to watch the Ring to see the extreme complexity most characters are endowed with. Motivations and ambivalence are explored to death in the Ring, at great length (see, for instance, the 30-minute dialogue between Wotan and Brünnhilde at the end of Die Walküre addressing exactly the multifaceted motivations for their recent actions - you can't get any more complex than that!). There is hardly any other opera with such psychologically complex characters.

    So, are Alberich and Mime a metaphor for the Jews? This can hardly be sustained. There are numerous instances in the operas where Wagner seems to nuance their take on the equilibrium of power and make it so that their actions are understandable as legitimate defense against Wotan's treacherous ways. These characters are absolutely not built with black-and-white touches; they do get lots of shades of gray, as do all other characters. Guess who is the *only* character who survives intact throughout the whole thing, and is actually the title character? Alberich!! See, the work is not called Wotan's Ring. Or Siegfried's Sword. It's called The Ring of the Nibelung! Your metaphor for a supposedly despicable Jew is the title role and the only character who doesn't die!

    If you want to get proof that Wagner's musical dramas have anti-Semitic tones, look at Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg rather than at the Ring - and even there, it doesn't amount to much - a one-minute rant in a 5-hour opera.

    I think you are confounding Wagner's pamphlet with Wagner's Ring. When you watch and listen to the Ring, those ideas of the pamphlet are just NOT there. Yes, you can perfectly separate the man from his works, in the case of Wagner. He liked to pretend that he was a philosopher. His philosophic works are of low quality and steeped in racism. But his operas are not! Wagner was a lousy philosopher, and in his writings he comes across exactly as he was: a racist, womanizing prick! But he was *also* a great composer! And his musical dramas, unlike his lousy philosophical writings, are high-quality and largely free of his nasty character traits. So, don't separate the man from his attempts at philosophical writings, or his actions in life. But do separate the man from his high-quality musical dramas!

    You sound like you want to fit the Ring into a given framework that you've constructed for yourself *before* seeing it (that's the sheer definition of a prejudice. Pre-judice. You judge it before examining it). You want it to be anti-Semitic and anti-Feminist. Sorry, it just isn't. There's been extensive scholarly debate around these issues, and I believe the overwhelmingly prevalent view is that you can't find those elements in the Ring.

    Then, in terms of the quality of Wagner's compositions and his place among other composers, you quote your favorites, and Wagner is not among them. Sure, you're entitled to having your favorites. But how do you manage to pass judgment on Wagner's quality as a composer or lack thereof, if you haven't seen his absolute masterpiece, the one he spent 26 years composing, that is 16 hours long and includes four operas, and that is a formidable creation with no fewer than 2,000 leitmotivs, and even though his other works are quite substantial, still dwarfs the others? This would be akin to saying something like this:

    "I don't think Dante Alighieri was a great writer. There are many other writers I like better [quotes list of writers]. Oh, by the way, there's one detail about my take on his quality or lack thereof as a writer that I must disclose: I haven't read The Divine Comedy."

    So, your justification for this, is that a friend of yours saw the Ring, and found it over-the-top - although, apparently, in a bad production.

    Again, it would be akin to someone challenging you that it isn't very acceptable to pass judgment on Dante without having read his absolute masterpiece The Divine Comedy, the one that completely dwarfs his other writings. To this, you'd say: "Oh, but a friend of mine has read a bad copy of it - it was barely legible and had some missing parts - but anyway, my friend found it boring. That's how I know that Dante wasn't a great writer."

    Just think of the absurdity of it all. You haven't seen the Ring. However, you know that it is anti-Semitic and anti-feminist; a friend of yours found it overwrought (in a bad production); and therefore Wagner is not such a great composer. Right.

    To make in advance such sweeping generalizations about a work of art you haven't seen, is probably not the best way to approach such work. I suggest that you see the Ring first, *then* you reach your conclusions about it.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); January 10th, 2013 at 02:17 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  13. #551
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Vladimir Franz who's an opera composer runs for president in the Czech Republic. He also has a few tattoos.

    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

  14. #552
    Member Recent member Sherlock Hamlet's Avatar
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    Wow, when I first looked at that I thought it was a brilliantly-decorative sculpture of a composer...

    That's some serious body art!
    "There are more things in heaven and earth then are dreamt of in your philosophy" --Hamlet

  15. #553
    Senior Member Involved Member Tardis's Avatar
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    Quick question, out of curiosity, why does Puccini put in these interjections from the other singers in the middle of some of his arias?
    I am listening to Chi il bel sogno di Doretta and the singers keep on interrupting with "delicioso, delicioso".
    Likewise, in Recondita armonia, why does the priest interject with "Scherza coi fanti e lascia stare i santi"?

  16. #554
    Senior Member Involved Member Tardis's Avatar
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    Does anyone know of a more recent video/DVD/VHS of the Polish opera Straszny dwor/The Haunted Manor?
    Amazon only has the audio version.
    My interest was piqued when I read about it from Almaviva's interview with Piotr Beczala from his book. http://operalively.com/forums/conten...The-Interviews

    All I could find on YT was the 1936 version.

  17. #555
    Senior Member Veteran Member Aksel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tardis View Post
    Quick question, out of curiosity, why does Puccini put in these interjections from the other singers in the middle of some of his arias?
    I am listening to Chi il bel sogno di Doretta and the singers keep on interrupting with "delicioso, delicioso".
    Likewise, in Recondita armonia, why does the priest interject with "Scherza coi fanti e lascia stare i santi"?
    In the case of Chi il bel sogno di Doretta, it's the fact that Magda is actually singing a song, and so the other characters need to say how beautiful it is. Just in case we didn't notice.

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