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Richard Wagner

Friday, July 29, 2016


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

Yesterday

Eye-opener: Wolfgang Wagner’s Hitler film is found in Bayreuth

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discHome movies of Adolf Hitler with the Wagner family in the summer of 1936 have been rediscovered at Bayreuth. The films were shot by the previous Bayreuth director Wolfgang Wagner as a 16 year-old boy and show the Nazi leader in a series of informal settings with the Wagner family. According to local press reports the Agfa film, which was stored in rusting cans in a Festspielhaus cellar, is presently being digitised and will eventually be made available for ‘authorised research’. Archivists say the unguarded close-ups are especially revealing, not just of Hitler but of various Bayreuth artists. There is no sound on film. Hitler in posed portrait with Wieland (l.) and Wolfgang (r.) Wagner

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

July 26

Bayreuth’s rat man attacks Katharina Wagner’s lack of vision

The eminent director Hans Neuenfels, who dressed up his chorus as rats in Bayreuth’s celebrated 2010 production Lohengrin, has spoken out over ‘multiple failures’ at the Wagner festival. He accused Katharina Wagner, now in sole command, of failing to maintain standards. There were ‘no artistic visions and sensations any more.’ He went on to accuse her of incompetence, arrogance and private self-interest – Unfähigkeit, Präpotenz, Privatismen. And he ascribes Andris Nelsons’s walkout to ‘an accumulation of (Bayreuth) failures’. Tough talk. Here (auf Deutsch).




Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

July 22

Exclusive: The private thoughts of Bayreuth’s Amfortas

Ryan McKinny, Amfortas in the new Bayreuth production, has authorised Slipped Disc to publish his insights on the troubling opera. Why We Need Parsifal by Ryan McKinny Durch Mitleid wissend. Through compassion, understanding. This phrase has been in my ear for the last six weeks, as I prepare to sing the role of Amfortas in Richard Wagner’s Parsifal in the opera house it was composed for, the Bayreuther Festspielhaus. That phrase keeps sticking with me. So much of our world seems to be in chaos. Anger and suffering fill our screens, and we are told time and again that if we just hate the right person, or group of people, we can destroy them and our own suffering will cease. No compassion or understanding required, only dogma. Of course, as a bone fide anti-semite and misogynist, Wagner himself peddled that same solution. Klingsor, like other antagonists in Wagners operas is projected as “other” and therefore evil. And Kundry, the only main character who is female, is forced into the age-old trope that women brought evil itself into the world. But Wagner’s music tells a different story, despite his worst intentions. I’ve always felt that somehow Wagner himself struggled to understand his own music, often trying to shoehorn it into his world view. He seemed to be battling his demons through his libretti. The music itself, however, refuses to be so small. Klingsor’s music, like that of Alberich in the Ring, another character defined by his otherness, has an incredible sympathy inside it, and it creates a character full of humanity, both good and bad. The music tells us that while Klingsor may be the source of other characters suffering, he himself suffers. Kundrys music portrays the pain of womanhood from the beginning of time; sometimes as mother, sometimes as lover and always as a human being. You cannot help but empathize with her through her music. And when I hear the searing prelude to Parsifal, I feel as if the music connects me not only to all the other people in the room, but to all the people that have ever existed or ever will exist. All the joy and suffering of humanity distilled into sound. Beyond words. I frequently feel distressed that this art form is too often reserved for the wealthy and powerful. But in this case, I think the wealthy and powerful are maybe the ones that need to hear this music the most. Those who struggle with war and poverty on a daily basis are no strangers to suffering, while those of us experiencing music-theater in Bayreuth are some of the most privileged people in this world. We, who spend our days on the Green Hill this summer, are in a unique position to shape the world we live in. I hope this music reaches us. I hope we can feel compassion for our own suffering, for Amfortas’ suffering, for the suffering of the world. And through that compassion, gain some understanding. (c) Ryan McKinny



Richard Wagner
(1813 – 1883)

Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 - 13 February 1883) was a German composer, conductor, theatre director and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or "music dramas", as they were later called). Wagner's compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex texture, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs: musical themes associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. Unlike most other opera composers, Wagner wrote both the music and libretto for every one of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works such as The Flying Dutchman and Tannhäuser which were in the romantic traditions of Weber and Meyerbeer, Wagner transformed operatic thought through his concept of the "total work of art". This would achieve the synthesis of all the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, and was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised this concept most fully in the first half of the monumental four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. His Tristan und Isolde is sometimes described as marking the start of modern music. He had his own opera house built, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which contained many novel design features. It was here that the Ring and Parsifal received their premieres and where his most important stage works continue to be performed today in an annual festival run by his descendants.



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