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Tannhäuser in Leipzig

T

The next step in Oper Leipzig’s chronological presentation of Wagner’s work, his 1845 Tannhäuser, was profoundly undermined and rendered ineffective by the failure of the stage director, Calixto Bieito, to engage the work.  So obstinate and pervasive were the efforts to prevent depiction of the necessary action of the drama, that it was impossible to follow the narrative, understand the...

Fliegende Höllander in Leipzig

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Considered as a precursor to Tristan, Meistersinger and Parsifal, Der fliegende Höllander is easy to marginalize or even dismiss.  Considered as the next work after Rienzi, however – as we are invited to do at the Leipzig Wagner 22 festival – it is nothing less than astonishing. Gone is much of the evident structure of opera – recitative leading to aria, pleasing musical ensembles, finales that...

Rienzi in Leipzig

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Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s most broadly recognized contribution to English literature is the first sentence of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford: “It was a dark and stormy night.”  This one sentence, in turn, inspired the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest which, for 40 years, has attracted competitive entries for, and awarded international recognition to, the worst opening sentence of a (mercifully) imaginary...

Das Liebesverbot in Leipzig

D

Wagner approached Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure intending, at the outset, to “take the seriousness out of it.”  This is like adapting Hamlet but skipping the part about the Dad’s murder.  The result is fundamentally flawed unless you forget the Shakespeare entirely and take Das Liebesverbot on its own terms.  Once that adjustment is made, it becomes interesting and, as evidence of Wagner’s...

Die Feen at Leipzig

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On a dreary, cloudy, drizzly, chilly afternoon in Leipzig, the Wagner 22 Festival got off to a happy start with a performance of Wagner’s earliest work, Die Feen. I had never heard a note of this piece until this fine performance and I found it entrancing.  I had been told that this was 20-year old Wagner’s attempt to model Weber’s Die Freischütz, but I kept hearing Beethoven in this young...

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The Wagner Blog is a forum for discussion of contemporary themes arising from the works of Richard Wagner. Discussions relating to Wagner’s musical, literary, theatrical, philosophical, political and theoretic work are all appropriate for this forum.

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