Discussion:
KNAPPERTSBUSCH LOHENGRIN
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Jay Kauffman
2015-10-23 21:33:44 UTC
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First release

http://www.mdt.co.uk/wagner-lohengrin-bjoner-varnay-hopf-bohme-hans-knappertsbusch-orfeo-3cds.html
Nicholas G
2015-11-15 21:55:44 UTC
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Has anyone listened to this CD set yet?
wkasimer
2015-11-16 18:26:05 UTC
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Post by Nicholas G
Has anyone listened to this CD set yet?
Not even planning to buy it. I'm a pretty voracious consumer of Wagner recordings, but this one has very little appeal. I'm actually an admirer of Hans Hopf at this best, but I can't imagine him singing Lohengrin.
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-11-17 15:15:53 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
Post by Nicholas G
Has anyone listened to this CD set yet?
Not even planning to buy it. I'm a pretty voracious consumer of Wagner recordings, but this one has very little appeal. I'm actually an admirer of Hans Hopf at this best, but I can't imagine him singing Lohengrin.
Inclined to agree -- although given what one hears these days... I'd sooner have somebody a bit beefy than, say, Klaus Florian Vogt.

I'm a bit hors de combat at the moment, so haven't had the chance to listen, nor have I asked to review this; but if it does land on my desk I'll report.

Cheers,

Mike
wkasimer
2015-11-18 17:49:42 UTC
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Inclined to agree -- although given what one hears these days... I'd sooner have somebody a bit beefy than, say, Klaus Florian Vogt.<
I'd agree with that for every Wagnerian role except Lohengrin. While I certainly prefer a little more metal in the tone, Vogt is reasonably effective in the role.

Bill
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-11-20 01:08:39 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
Inclined to agree -- although given what one hears these days... I'd sooner have somebody a bit beefy than, say, Klaus Florian Vogt.<
I'd agree with that for every Wagnerian role except Lohengrin. While I certainly prefer a little more metal in the tone, Vogt is reasonably effective in the role.
Bill
Not for me, but it's a matter of taste. I'd regard an ideal Lohengrin as a judicious blend of visionary poetry and steel, and he doesn't have much of either for me. The nearest to perfect I can think of would be Sandor Konya, I think, who conveyed a real touch of the supernatural, with Alberto Remedios, much steelier, coming close -- the first Lohengrin I saw on stage. And I very much liked Domingo, in his Domingo-ish way, and the late Gosta Winbergh, and perhaps also Kollo, live, and Peter Hofmann; and though one can't judge by his brief recordings, Nicolai Gedda, representing a rather different balance, was also impressive.

Cheers,

Mike
Jay Kauffman
2015-11-20 02:40:25 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by wkasimer
Inclined to agree -- although given what one hears these days... I'd sooner have somebody a bit beefy than, say, Klaus Florian Vogt.<
I'd agree with that for every Wagnerian role except Lohengrin. While I certainly prefer a little more metal in the tone, Vogt is reasonably effective in the role.
Bill
Not for me, but it's a matter of taste. I'd regard an ideal Lohengrin as a judicious blend of visionary poetry and steel, and he doesn't have much of either for me. The nearest to perfect I can think of would be Sandor Konya, I think, who conveyed a real touch of the supernatural, with Alberto Remedios, much steelier, coming close -- the first Lohengrin I saw on stage. And I very much liked Domingo, in his Domingo-ish way, and the late Gosta Winbergh, and perhaps also Kollo, live, and Peter Hofmann; and though one can't judge by his brief recordings, Nicolai Gedda, representing a rather different balance, was also impressive.
Cheers,
Mike
I have only heard the first act and Hopf is surprisingly good but much of it is declamatory so I would reserve judgement till I hear the third act duet.
REP
2015-11-20 04:41:03 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by wkasimer
Inclined to agree -- although given what one hears these days... I'd sooner have somebody a bit beefy than, say, Klaus Florian Vogt.<
I'd agree with that for every Wagnerian role except Lohengrin. While I certainly prefer a little more metal in the tone, Vogt is reasonably effective in the role.
Bill
Not for me, but it's a matter of taste. I'd regard an ideal Lohengrin as a judicious blend of visionary poetry and steel, and he doesn't have much of either for me. The nearest to perfect I can think of would be Sandor Konya, I think, who conveyed a real touch of the supernatural, with Alberto Remedios, much steelier, coming close -- the first Lohengrin I saw on stage. And I very much liked Domingo, in his Domingo-ish way, and the late Gosta Winbergh, and perhaps also Kollo, live, and Peter Hofmann; and though one can't judge by his brief recordings, Nicolai Gedda, representing a rather different balance, was also impressive.
Cheers,
Mike
I like Vogt, but I can see how he's not to everyone's tastes. His tone is unlike any other heldentenor.

I'm surprised you left out James King, though. I think he's quite effective in the Kubelik recording.

REP
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-01 13:17:59 UTC
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Post by REP
I like Vogt, but I can see how he's not to everyone's tastes. His tone is unlike any other heldentenor.
I'm surprised you left out James King, though. I think he's quite effective in the Kubelik recording.
REP
Unlike, certainly; I'm not sure whether I'd call him a Heldentenor at all. But it is a matter of taste.

King is very good, indeed, and I really enjoy the Kubelik recording as a whole; it was unfairly dismissed in favour of the Kempe when it first came out, partly because of Gwyneth Jones vis-à-vis Christa Ludwig, but I was very glad to re-assess it when it reappeared on CD -- I believe I gave it a five-star review. Janowitz is simply in a class of her own.

I still feel the Kempe is better, honking Otto Wiener notwithstanding, and Grummer rather late in her excellent career; Fischer-Dieskau and Ludwig, though, simply sweep the board for me, and Frick also. Between Thomas and King I feel there's little to choose; King might even be better, I wouldn't argue it. They both belong to the more earthbound Lohengrins -- not necessarily a bad thing, the character shouldn't sound too airy-fairy and detached, let alone as fluty as Vogt or as thin as Paul Frey. But when a tenor can combine a sufficiently heroic sound with a degree of poetic otherworldliness, that for me is nearer the ideal. I feel that he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically, it has to be done vocally.

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2015-12-01 15:09:36 UTC
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...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-01 18:38:38 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Oh... sigh...!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-02 17:39:24 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance. Remedios was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by sheer charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann; when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every female present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he did manage to suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well. Not so on the Met video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan Armstrong better than Eva Marton, who knows?

I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it suggests that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never going to work. Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that can't by its own nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk tale the taboo must be broken, the question must be asked, the intrusion removed and the mundane balance restored -- the balance, if you like, that Ortrud tipped the wrong way with her enchantment. It's on this balance that the dreamer, Elsa, is broken, as dreamers often are; or, more accurately, she breaks herself. I've never been sure whether she's meant to die at the end; I can't remember what Wagner had to say on the point, but I don't think it's explicit in the libretto. I think it subtler if she doesn't, but is left, as after another such supernatural seduction, "alone and palely loitering".

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2015-12-02 18:02:00 UTC
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Er, touché...
It wasn't meant to be congratulatory rather than critical, Mike.

And I agree with your comments on the core requirements for the part.
Remedios was far and away the finest Lohengrin I've seen, his initial impact
helped enormously by the staging, which had first the swan and then him
rising glitteringly into view upstage centre with an eerie smoothness: a
simple idea but very effective.

Time and again I think what a loss Graeme Matheson Bruce was. Very
un-tenorlike physically and a fine and intense actor, his Lohengrin (to say
nothing of his Siegfried) would surely have been exceptional.

Incidentally, and not I hope too far off topic, I was amazed to see Remedios
as an eerie and almost visionary Peter Grimes in the pub scene on that ENO
Gala video. I know he'd done the part but never at the Coli as far as I
know.

Bert
Bert Coules
2015-12-02 18:03:37 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
It wasn't meant to be congratulatory rather than critical, Mike.
Double damnation. "It WAS meant to be..." of course.

Apologies.

Bert
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-04 18:51:33 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Er, touché...
It wasn't meant to be congratulatory rather than critical, Mike.
I took it so, ie "was", but touché seemed quite a good answer. I did like that ENO production, although Michael Knight's designs might have been a bit airier; he seemed to be trying for something like the Sainte-Chapelle. And Margaret Curphey was a bit heavyweight for Elsa, as well as having trouble with her hips. But it was still memorable; I came down from Scotland on the day, was delayed and missed both lunch and dinner, but got through it on foul choc and nut bars and was still transported. I was younger then...
Post by Bert Coules
Time and again I think what a loss Graeme Matheson Bruce was. Very
un-tenorlike physically and a fine and intense actor, his Lohengrin (to say
nothing of his Siegfried) would surely have been exceptional.
I remember him well, poor fellow, though I saw him most often with Glyndebourne on Tour -- and most often in a non-singing, indeed non-existent role invented by the producer, Mine Host in Falstaff. It says something that he made a strong impression with his acting alone, as a foil for Jonathan Summers. But some time later I caught him in Gurrelieder in Leeds, and was very impressed indeed. It stretched him, but you felt that in a few years it wouldn't; alas, it wasn't to be. Tenors are an odd breed, though, in career; I saw Richard Berkeley Steele in a pro/am debut of a new and rather forgettable opera The Lambton Worm in the 70s and being impressed, then nothing more of him (except I think as a photographer) till he suddenly surfaced in Seattle covering Siegfried very successfully for Alan Woodrow
Post by Bert Coules
Incidentally, and not I hope too far off topic, I was amazed to see Remedios
as an eerie and almost visionary Peter Grimes in the pub scene on that ENO
Gala video. I know he'd done the part but never at the Coli as far as I
know.
Bert
Agreed. In fact the only place I can think of offhand was in Buenos Aires, where I remember running into a picture of him when I was being shown round the Teatro Colon (before they dusted it and spoilt it). Some time later I ran into his boots, too -- they have a huge underground vault just lined with racks of the things, and there were a pair of crumpled seaboots labelled "Grimes, S.Remedios". I never did find out what opera the giant purple platforms were for...

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2015-12-04 22:50:45 UTC
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Mike, thanks for all that. I got to know Graeme Matheson Bruce well when he
played Siegmund in the Wagner Society's Valkyrie (opposite, among others,
Rosalind Plowright as Fricka) and was impressed with his dramatic as well as
his vocal intensity, qualities amply demonstrated later at the ENO, most
memorably in Fidelio. Did you know that Peter Hall wanted him for Loge in
his Bayreuth Ring but was overruled by Solti who was determined to cast a
native German speaker?

The Valkyrie's conductor John Baird explored the possibility of doing
Siegfried with Matheson Bruce but it never happened, alas. The follow-up to
that Valkyrie was a Parsifal (staged thrust, in the Camperdown House
rehearsal studio, and directed by John Blatchley) in which he was quite
stunning.

Bert
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-05 18:52:26 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Mike, thanks for all that. I got to know Graeme Matheson Bruce well when he
played Siegmund in the Wagner Society's Valkyrie (opposite, among others,
Rosalind Plowright as Fricka) and was impressed with his dramatic as well as
his vocal intensity, qualities amply demonstrated later at the ENO, most
memorably in Fidelio. Did you know that Peter Hall wanted him for Loge in
his Bayreuth Ring but was overruled by Solti who was determined to cast a
native German speaker?
Actually I didn't, and am most interested -- although given the savaging the other Brits in that cast got, including Maldwyn Davies and Josephine Barstow, whom the German critics trashed as if she was some unknown provincial deadweight (and that opposite bloody croaking Franz Mazura!), it might have spared GMB some pain. It certainly doesn't seem to have done Davies' career any good; I haven't heard of him for quite a while. They treated non-Brits like Aage Haugland, with his strong Danish accent, much more tolerantly; they were just out for "the blood of an Englishman", or Welsh or whatever.

I can see Solti's point, especially at Bayreuth, but although the role might have suited his voice Manfred Jung was as useless a Loge as he was a Siegfried. I've no doubt a better cover could have been obtained when they sacked Goldberg, but Wolfgang seems to have wanted him - possibly for sabotage. Jung's published comments on working with Hall are certainly in line with WW's; he complains maliciously about learning nothing from him -- entirely unreasonably, since there was barely any time. I've no doubt GMB would have been an excellent Loge.

Cheers,

Mike
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-02 18:06:18 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some
tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary
one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and
suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance. Remedios
was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by sheer
charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite
appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann;
when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every female
present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he did manage to
suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well. Not so on the Met
video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan Armstrong better than Eva
Marton, who knows?
I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it suggests
that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never going to work.
Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that can't by its own
nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk tale the taboo must be
broken, the question must be asked, the intrusion removed and the mundane
balance restored -- the balance, if you like, that Ortrud tipped the wrong
way with her enchantment. It's on this balance that the dreamer, Elsa, is
broken, as dreamers often are; or, more accurately, she breaks herself. I've
never been sure whether she's meant to die at the end; I can't remember what
Wagner had to say on the point, but I don't think it's explicit in the
libretto. I think it subtler if she doesn't, but is left, as after another
such supernatural seduction, "alone and palely loitering".
Cheers,
Mike
Well, the libretto is very clear at this point:
"Sie"(Elsa) "sieht Lohengrin in der Ferne. Alle stoßen einen Klageruf
aus. Elsa sinkt in Gottfrieds Armen leblos zu boden."
Which reads in English translation:
She sees Lohengrin in the distance. A cry of lamentation goes up from
all. Elsa, in Gottfried's arms, sinks lifeless to the ground."

- What do you think, Sir? A suspicious death?
- Isurely think so, sergeant!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
REP
2015-12-03 21:43:37 UTC
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Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some
tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary
one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and
suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance. Remedios
was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by sheer
charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite
appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann;
when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every female
present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he did manage to
suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well. Not so on the Met
video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan Armstrong better than Eva
Marton, who knows?
I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it suggests
that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never going to work.
Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that can't by its own
nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk tale the taboo must be
broken, the question must be asked, the intrusion removed and the mundane
balance restored -- the balance, if you like, that Ortrud tipped the wrong
way with her enchantment. It's on this balance that the dreamer, Elsa, is
broken, as dreamers often are; or, more accurately, she breaks herself. I've
never been sure whether she's meant to die at the end; I can't remember what
Wagner had to say on the point, but I don't think it's explicit in the
libretto. I think it subtler if she doesn't, but is left, as after another
such supernatural seduction, "alone and palely loitering".
Cheers,
Mike
"Sie"(Elsa) "sieht Lohengrin in der Ferne. Alle stoßen einen Klageruf
aus. Elsa sinkt in Gottfrieds Armen leblos zu boden."
She sees Lohengrin in the distance. A cry of lamentation goes up from
all. Elsa, in Gottfried's arms, sinks lifeless to the ground."
- What do you think, Sir? A suspicious death?
- Isurely think so, sergeant!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
I don't know, Herman, "lifeless" is such a tricky word. In English, it can either mean "dead" or "unconscious." In other words, "literally lifeless" or "apparently lifeless!" Not a very good word to use if you're aiming for precision, but its ambiguity has made it a favorite among authors who want to ramp up the suspense at the end of a chapter, such as when a beloved character is attacked and falls "lifeless" to the ground.*

In German, "leblos" has the same ambiguous meaning, I believe. And personally, I've always fallen on the side of it meaning "unconscious" in Elsa's case, because uses it in other operas when the character is clearly swooning and not dead, for example, in Die Walkure, Act II:

"Sieglinde, die seinen Todesseufzer gehört, sinkt mit einem Schrei wie leblos zusammen."

Which (pardon the rough translation) basically says that Sieglinde sinks "leblos" to the ground when Siegmund is killed.

REP

* Tolkien employed such a technique on occasion, though I'm not sure he ever used the word "lifeless." Poor Pippin, for example, takes a nasty blow at the end of Book 5 of The Lord of the Rings, where "his eyes saw no more," and we have to wait until the end of Book 6 to find out that he's still alive. I guess his eyes saw no more -- until he regained consciousness, that is. If I remember right, a similar scenario occurs with Bilbo in The Hobbit.
REP
2015-12-03 21:45:17 UTC
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Woops. That should be "..because Wagner uses it in other operas..."

REP
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-03 22:59:17 UTC
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Post by REP
Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some
tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary
one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and
suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance.
Remedios was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by
sheer charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite
appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann;
when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every female
present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he did manage
to suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well. Not so on the
Met video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan Armstrong better than
Eva Marton, who knows?
I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it
suggests that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never
going to work. Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that
can't by its own nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk tale
the taboo must be broken, the question must be asked, the intrusion
removed and the mundane balance restored -- the balance, if you like, that
Ortrud tipped the wrong way with her enchantment. It's on this balance
that the dreamer, Elsa, is broken, as dreamers often are; or, more
accurately, she breaks herself. I've never been sure whether she's meant
to die at the end; I can't remember what Wagner had to say on the point,
but I don't think it's explicit in the libretto. I think it subtler if she
doesn't, but is left, as after another such supernatural seduction, "alone
and palely loitering".
Cheers,
Mike
"Sie"(Elsa) "sieht Lohengrin in der Ferne. Alle stoßen einen Klageruf
aus. Elsa sinkt in Gottfrieds Armen leblos zu boden."
She sees Lohengrin in the distance. A cry of lamentation goes up from
all. Elsa, in Gottfried's arms, sinks lifeless to the ground."
- What do you think, Sir? A suspicious death?
- Isurely think so, sergeant!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
I don't know, Herman, "lifeless" is such a tricky word. In English, it can
either mean "dead" or "unconscious." In other words, "literally lifeless" or
"apparently lifeless!" Not a very good word to use if you're aiming for
precision, but its ambiguity has made it a favorite among authors who want to
ramp up the suspense at the end of a chapter, such as when a beloved
character is attacked and falls "lifeless" to the ground.*
In German, "leblos" has the same ambiguous meaning, I believe. And
personally, I've always fallen on the side of it meaning "unconscious" in
Elsa's case, because uses it in other operas when the character is clearly
"Sieglinde, die seinen Todesseufzer gehört, sinkt mit einem Schrei wie leblos zusammen."
Which (pardon the rough translation) basically says that Sieglinde sinks
"leblos" to the ground when Siegmund is killed.
REP
[snip]

Sorry, REP, I do not agree, as there is a huge difference, "Elsa sinkt
[...] leblos zu boden", whereas "Sieglinde, [...] sinkt [...] *wie*
leblos zusammen". The difference is the word "wie", which means "as
if". So, Elsa falls lifeless on the ground, in my eyes as dead as a
dodo, and Sieglinde falls to the ground as if she were dead, so
unconscious.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
REP
2015-12-04 01:28:07 UTC
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Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by REP
Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some
tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary
one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and
suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance.
Remedios was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by
sheer charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite
appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann;
when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every female
present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he did manage
to suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well. Not so on the
Met video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan Armstrong better than
Eva Marton, who knows?
I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it
suggests that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never
going to work. Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that
can't by its own nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk tale
the taboo must be broken, the question must be asked, the intrusion
removed and the mundane balance restored -- the balance, if you like, that
Ortrud tipped the wrong way with her enchantment. It's on this balance
that the dreamer, Elsa, is broken, as dreamers often are; or, more
accurately, she breaks herself. I've never been sure whether she's meant
to die at the end; I can't remember what Wagner had to say on the point,
but I don't think it's explicit in the libretto. I think it subtler if she
doesn't, but is left, as after another such supernatural seduction, "alone
and palely loitering".
Cheers,
Mike
"Sie"(Elsa) "sieht Lohengrin in der Ferne. Alle stoßen einen Klageruf
aus. Elsa sinkt in Gottfrieds Armen leblos zu boden."
She sees Lohengrin in the distance. A cry of lamentation goes up from
all. Elsa, in Gottfried's arms, sinks lifeless to the ground."
- What do you think, Sir? A suspicious death?
- Isurely think so, sergeant!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
I don't know, Herman, "lifeless" is such a tricky word. In English, it can
either mean "dead" or "unconscious." In other words, "literally lifeless" or
"apparently lifeless!" Not a very good word to use if you're aiming for
precision, but its ambiguity has made it a favorite among authors who want to
ramp up the suspense at the end of a chapter, such as when a beloved
character is attacked and falls "lifeless" to the ground.*
In German, "leblos" has the same ambiguous meaning, I believe. And
personally, I've always fallen on the side of it meaning "unconscious" in
Elsa's case, because uses it in other operas when the character is clearly
"Sieglinde, die seinen Todesseufzer gehört, sinkt mit einem Schrei wie leblos
zusammen."
Which (pardon the rough translation) basically says that Sieglinde sinks
"leblos" to the ground when Siegmund is killed.
REP
[snip]
Sorry, REP, I do not agree, as there is a huge difference, "Elsa sinkt
[...] leblos zu boden", whereas "Sieglinde, [...] sinkt [...] *wie*
leblos zusammen". The difference is the word "wie", which means "as
if". So, Elsa falls lifeless on the ground, in my eyes as dead as a
dodo, and Sieglinde falls to the ground as if she were dead, so
unconscious.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Ah, thanks for pointing out the "wie" and its meaning. My German is quite elementary. What about this example from Parsifal?

"Er zieht Kundry, ganz erstarrt und leblos, aus dem Gebüsche hervor, trägt sie auf einen nahen Rasenhügel, reibt ihr stark die Hände und Schläfe, haucht sie an und bemüht sich in allem, um die Erstarrung von ihr weichen zu machen."

i.e. "He [Gurnemanz] drags Kundry, quite stiff and lifeless, out of the bushes..."

REP
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-04 09:16:21 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by REP
Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by REP
Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural
to the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors
physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some
tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary
one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and
suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance.
Remedios was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by
sheer charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite
appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann;
when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every
female present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he
did manage to suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well.
Not so on the Met video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan
Armstrong better than Eva Marton, who knows?
I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it
suggests that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never
going to work. Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that
can't by its own nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk
tale the taboo must be broken, the question must be asked, the
intrusion removed and the mundane balance restored -- the balance, if
you like, that Ortrud tipped the wrong way with her enchantment. It's
on this balance that the dreamer, Elsa, is broken, as dreamers often
are; or, more accurately, she breaks herself. I've never been sure
whether she's meant to die at the end; I can't remember what Wagner had
to say on the point, but I don't think it's explicit in the libretto. I
think it subtler if she doesn't, but is left, as after another such
supernatural seduction, "alone and palely loitering".
Cheers,
Mike
"Sie"(Elsa) "sieht Lohengrin in der Ferne. Alle stoßen einen Klageruf
aus. Elsa sinkt in Gottfrieds Armen leblos zu boden."
She sees Lohengrin in the distance. A cry of lamentation goes up from
all. Elsa, in Gottfried's arms, sinks lifeless to the ground."
- What do you think, Sir? A suspicious death?
- Isurely think so, sergeant!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
I don't know, Herman, "lifeless" is such a tricky word. In English, it can
either mean "dead" or "unconscious." In other words, "literally lifeless"
or "apparently lifeless!" Not a very good word to use if you're aiming for
precision, but its ambiguity has made it a favorite among authors who want
to ramp up the suspense at the end of a chapter, such as when a beloved
character is attacked and falls "lifeless" to the ground.*
In German, "leblos" has the same ambiguous meaning, I believe. And
personally, I've always fallen on the side of it meaning "unconscious" in
Elsa's case, because uses it in other operas when the character is clearly
"Sieglinde, die seinen Todesseufzer gehört, sinkt mit einem Schrei wie
leblos zusammen."
Which (pardon the rough translation) basically says that Sieglinde sinks
"leblos" to the ground when Siegmund is killed.
REP
[snip]
Sorry, REP, I do not agree, as there is a huge difference, "Elsa sinkt
[...] leblos zu boden", whereas "Sieglinde, [...] sinkt [...] *wie*
leblos zusammen". The difference is the word "wie", which means "as
if". So, Elsa falls lifeless on the ground, in my eyes as dead as a
dodo, and Sieglinde falls to the ground as if she were dead, so
unconscious.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Ah, thanks for pointing out the "wie" and its meaning. My German is quite
elementary. What about this example from Parsifal?
"Er zieht Kundry, ganz erstarrt und leblos, aus dem Gebüsche hervor, trägt
sie auf einen nahen Rasenhügel, reibt ihr stark die Hände und Schläfe, haucht
sie an und bemüht sich in allem, um die Erstarrung von ihr weichen zu
machen."
i.e. "He [Gurnemanz] drags Kundry, quite stiff and lifeless, out of the bushes..."
REP
Well, yes... that is language for you... Where Elsa drops dead,
literally, is Kundry 'only' quite stiff, after hibernating (as I see
it) and /seemingly/ lifeless. This 'seemingly' is *not* in the text,
that I do agree, but you get it from the context of the story. A very
short time before Gurnemanz dragged Kundry away, he had heard her
groaning. We do know that Kundry probably dies at the very end of the
story, a redeemed person - though there you can argue if "entseelt"
(lifeless again, literally "having lost her soul") meant that she
really dies. In my opinion, yes, as she saw the grail as a redeemed
person, who had lived so many ages a doomed and sinful life. Death as
the upperstate of redemption.
You'll find ths "Death as redemption" idea much earlier in Tannhäuser.
When at the very end Tannhäuser hears from Wolfram that he is saved
from damnation, he dies. There Wagner is very clear in his libretto,
"Er stirbt."
And in The Flying Dutchman you already find this idea of redemption by
death, again at the very, very end of that opera.

Now back to the ending of Lohengrin. With the help of a prayer by
Lohengrin, the swan is changed into Gottfried, Elsa's lost brother.
Lohengrin proclaims him Duke of Brabant, "Seht da den Herzog von
Brabant! Zum Führer sei er euch ernannt!" (See there, the Duke of
Brabant! He shall be named your leader!") There is actually no more
place for Elsa, now her brother luckily returned. Wagner kills her off
as it is time for 'new beginnings', at least in my opinion.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Edward A. Cowan
2015-12-05 04:32:00 UTC
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"Und in dem Wie -- darin liegt der ganze Unterschied". (Marschallin in _Der Rosenkavalier_) Librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal did have a way with words, no? <g> --E.A.C.
Post by Herman van der Woude
Sorry, REP, I do not agree, as there is a huge difference, "Elsa sinkt
[...] leblos zu boden", whereas "Sieglinde, [...] sinkt [...] *wie*
leblos zusammen". The difference is the word "wie", which means "as
if". So, Elsa falls lifeless on the ground, in my eyes as dead as a
dodo, and Sieglinde falls to the ground as if she were dead, so
unconscious.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-04 18:18:27 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by REP
I don't know, Herman, "lifeless" is such a tricky word. In English, it can either mean "dead" or "unconscious." In other words, "literally lifeless" or "apparently lifeless!" Not a very good word to use if you're aiming for precision, but its ambiguity has made it a favorite among authors who want to ramp up the suspense at the end of a chapter, such as when a beloved character is attacked and falls "lifeless" to the ground.*
I have certainly seen lifeless used to mean simply "unconscious" in English, especially in the late 18th and early 19th century....
Post by REP
In German, "leblos" has the same ambiguous meaning, I believe.
....and I'm sure I have in German as well, though I'd be hard put to it to say where -- and not with the "wie" either, which I wouldn't have remembered as an ambiguity. Certainly "atemloss", without breath, is used to suggest mere unconsciousness at that time. My books are still in appalling confusion, but I'll have a look in Goethe first, and whatever poetry and libretti I can lay hands on.

Personally I find Elsa dropping dead, of grief one presumes, rather too pat, and prefer to think she just collapses, but that's a modern reaction The melodramatic death probably appealed more to 19th-century sensibilities. On the other hand, it does give Ortrud rather too much of a revengeful victory, albeit Pyhrrhic, to be consistent with the Christian theme. The loss of Lohengrin is Elsa's own fault, but the condition she broke was extreme, and the loss of her life seems rather rough as a penalty.

Cheers,

Mike
Richard Partridge
2015-12-04 20:27:09 UTC
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Post by REP
Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some
tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary
one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and
suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance. Remedios
was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by sheer
charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite
appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann;
when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every female
present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he did manage to
suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well. Not so on the Met
video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan Armstrong better than Eva
Marton, who knows?
I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it suggests
that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never going to work.
Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that can't by its own
nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk tale the taboo must be
broken, the question must be asked, the intrusion removed and the mundane
balance restored -- the balance, if you like, that Ortrud tipped the wrong
way with her enchantment. It's on this balance that the dreamer, Elsa, is
broken, as dreamers often are; or, more accurately, she breaks herself. I've
never been sure whether she's meant to die at the end; I can't remember what
Wagner had to say on the point, but I don't think it's explicit in the
libretto. I think it subtler if she doesn't, but is left, as after another
such supernatural seduction, "alone and palely loitering".
Cheers,
Mike
"Sie"(Elsa) "sieht Lohengrin in der Ferne. Alle stoßen einen Klageruf
aus. Elsa sinkt in Gottfrieds Armen leblos zu boden."
She sees Lohengrin in the distance. A cry of lamentation goes up from
all. Elsa, in Gottfried's arms, sinks lifeless to the ground."
- What do you think, Sir? A suspicious death?
- Isurely think so, sergeant!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
I don't know, Herman, "lifeless" is such a tricky word. In English, it can
either mean "dead" or "unconscious." In other words, "literally lifeless" or
"apparently lifeless!" Not a very good word to use if you're aiming for
precision, but its ambiguity has made it a favorite among authors who want to
ramp up the suspense at the end of a chapter, such as when a beloved character
is attacked and falls "lifeless" to the ground.*
In German, "leblos" has the same ambiguous meaning, I believe. And personally,
I've always fallen on the side of it meaning "unconscious" in Elsa's case,
because uses it in other operas when the character is clearly swooning and not
"Sieglinde, die seinen Todesseufzer gehört, sinkt mit einem Schrei wie leblos zusammen."
Which (pardon the rough translation) basically says that Sieglinde sinks
"leblos" to the ground when Siegmund is killed.
REP
* Tolkien employed such a technique on occasion, though I'm not sure he ever
used the word "lifeless." Poor Pippin, for example, takes a nasty blow at the
end of Book 5 of The Lord of the Rings, where "his eyes saw no more," and we
have to wait until the end of Book 6 to find out that he's still alive. I
guess his eyes saw no more -- until he regained consciousness, that is. If I
remember right, a similar scenario occurs with Bilbo in The Hobbit.
Mike-

Wouldn't the meaning of "wie leblos" be a little different from just
"leblos?" I would think it could best be translated as "as if lifeless."


Dick Partridge
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-05 00:16:56 UTC
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Post by Richard Partridge
Post by REP
Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some
tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary
one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and
suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance.
Remedios was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by
sheer charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite
appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann;
when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every female
present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he did manage
to suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well. Not so on the
Met video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan Armstrong better than
Eva Marton, who knows?
I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it suggests
that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never going to
work. Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that can't by its
own nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk tale the taboo
must be broken, the question must be asked, the intrusion removed and the
mundane balance restored -- the balance, if you like, that Ortrud tipped
the wrong way with her enchantment. It's on this balance that the dreamer,
Elsa, is broken, as dreamers often are; or, more accurately, she breaks
herself. I've never been sure whether she's meant to die at the end; I
can't remember what Wagner had to say on the point, but I don't think it's
explicit in the libretto. I think it subtler if she doesn't, but is left,
as after another such supernatural seduction, "alone and palely
loitering".
Cheers,
Mike
"Sie"(Elsa) "sieht Lohengrin in der Ferne. Alle stoßen einen Klageruf
aus. Elsa sinkt in Gottfrieds Armen leblos zu boden."
She sees Lohengrin in the distance. A cry of lamentation goes up from
all. Elsa, in Gottfried's arms, sinks lifeless to the ground."
- What do you think, Sir? A suspicious death?
- Isurely think so, sergeant!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
I don't know, Herman, "lifeless" is such a tricky word. In English, it can
either mean "dead" or "unconscious." In other words, "literally lifeless" or
"apparently lifeless!" Not a very good word to use if you're aiming for
precision, but its ambiguity has made it a favorite among authors who want
to ramp up the suspense at the end of a chapter, such as when a beloved
character is attacked and falls "lifeless" to the ground.*
In German, "leblos" has the same ambiguous meaning, I believe. And
personally, I've always fallen on the side of it meaning "unconscious" in
Elsa's case, because uses it in other operas when the character is clearly
"Sieglinde, die seinen Todesseufzer gehört, sinkt mit einem Schrei wie leblos zusammen."
Which (pardon the rough translation) basically says that Sieglinde sinks
"leblos" to the ground when Siegmund is killed.
REP
* Tolkien employed such a technique on occasion, though I'm not sure he ever
used the word "lifeless." Poor Pippin, for example, takes a nasty blow at
the end of Book 5 of The Lord of the Rings, where "his eyes saw no more,"
and we have to wait until the end of Book 6 to find out that he's still
alive. I guess his eyes saw no more -- until he regained consciousness, that
is. If I remember right, a similar scenario occurs with Bilbo in The Hobbit.
Mike-
Wouldn't the meaning of "wie leblos" be a little different from just
"leblos?" I would think it could best be translated as "as if lifeless."
Dick Partridge
Dick, That is exactly what I wrote to REP yesterday. That little German
word "wie" makes a huge difference.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-05 18:09:05 UTC
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Post by Richard Partridge
Mike-
Wouldn't the meaning of "wie leblos" be a little different from just
"leblos?" I would think it could best be translated as "as if lifeless."
Dick Partridge
Well, yes, that's the point made by several people. The "wie" makes it a clear simile. But you will find "as if lifeless" and "lifeless" used as equivalents in 18th and 19th century English, whereas in modern English it would only be understood as "dead". The same seems to have been true in German, and indeed in French as well, sometimes. In that case the "wie" or "as if" is omitted, for dramatic effect if you like, but the expression then becomes metaphoric. Or, of course, literal; but when a literary type really wanted to depict someone literally falling dead, they tended to be a bit more flowery about it -- though that wasn't always true of Wagner. Hence the question!

Cheers,

Mike
A.C. Douglas
2015-12-05 18:42:01 UTC
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The use of that little German "wie" poses a real conundrum in the text of _Tristan_ as I discussed in a lengthy 2004 S&F entry titled "Isolde's 'Liebestod' -- Or Is It?" (http://www.soundsandfury.com/soundsandfury/2004/08/isoldes_iliebes.html)

The introductory grafs read as follows:

=== Begin Quote ===
Famous even among those who are not particularly fond of Wagner's music-dramas is Isolde's third-act _Tristan und Isolde_ swan song, commonly called the Liebestod (Love-death). This is Isolde's closing apostrophe (also the last thing sung in the music-drama) wherein, kneeling by the fallen body of her dead lover, the dead-by-his-own-hand Tristan, she, in ecstatic transport, sees him alive, his figure in splendor shining before her on high amid perfumed billows, on seeing which and rhapsodizing upon it to some of the most affectingly beautiful music ever written (drawn from the love music of the second act), she finally sinks apparently lifeless onto Tristan's corpse as the orchestra, the music-drama's principal voice, sounds for the first and only time the harmonic resolution that has been repeatedly evaded throughout the music-drama's entire length.

The question is: At music-drama's close, should we take it that Isolde is dead or not? To ninety-nine percent of those who know this work, even to those who consider they know it well, the question would seem absurd. Of course she's dead!, would be the astonished response. Isn't her closing apostrophe called the Liebestod?

Well, actually, no, it's not. Or rather, Wagner himself didn't refer to it as such. He reserved Liebestod to refer to the prelude to the music-drama's first act, and referred to Isolde's closing apostrophe as the Verklärung (Transfiguration).

So, which is it? A death or a transfiguration? Or both? When we consult the score itself, always the only permissible authority in such matters, we find Wagner being somewhat ambiguous on the matter -- at least at first glance. His stage directions at this point read:

"Isolde sinkt, wie verklärt, in Brangänes Armen sanft auf Tristans Leiche. Große Rührung und Entrücktheit unter den Umstehenden. Marke segnet die Leichen (Isolde, as if transfigured, sinks in Brangäne's arms gently onto Tristan's corpse. Deep emotion and state of rapture (or exaltation, or ecstasy) among the onlookers. Marke blesses the corpses [that lie about him])."

It's that little word "wie" ("as if") in "wie verklärt" that's the culprit.

So, how are we to understand the final resolution of this music-drama? A tragic double suicide, or ... What?
=== End Quote ===

ACD
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-05 19:05:18 UTC
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Post by A.C. Douglas
So, how are we to understand the final resolution of this music-drama? A tragic double suicide, or ... What?
=== End Quote ===
ACD
Unfortunately the only way to "understand" this definitely is the way ACD always denies before cockcrow, namely to go back to the original legends on which Wagner specifically drew. In all of these, absolutely all, the Tristan and Isolde figures are united in death. You'd need to be pretty perverse to assert that Wagner intended otherwise, especially given all the eros/thanatos imagery throughout the libretto.

With Elsa there's no such guidance. The legends -- which appear to have been invented to fill an embarrassing gap in the family tree -- were never very concerned with the lady in question and more with the mysterious nobility of the Swan Knight. They don't say she dropped dead on the spot, though, certainly.

Cheers,

Mike
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-05 19:15:39 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by A.C. Douglas
So, how are we to understand the final resolution of this music-drama? A tragic double suicide, or ... What?
=== End Quote ===
ACD
Unfortunately the only way to "understand" this definitely is the way ACD always denies before cockcrow, namely to go back to the original legends on which Wagner specifically drew. In all of these, absolutely all, the Tristan and Isolde figures are united in death. You'd need to be pretty perverse to assert that Wagner intended otherwise, especially given all the eros/thanatos imagery throughout the libretto.
With Elsa there's no such guidance. The legends -- which appear to have been invented to fill an embarrassing gap in the family tree -- were never very concerned with the lady in question and more with the mysterious nobility of the Swan Knight. They don't say she dropped dead on the spot, though, certainly.
Cheers,
Mike
Yes for me the only way their love can be resolved is in death - so death is its logical conclusion. Or you can look at another way and say "it doesn't matter whether they are physically alive or dead- emotionally they are together in death"
A.C. Douglas
2015-12-05 19:31:44 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Unfortunately the only way to "understand" this definitely is the way
ACD always denies before cockcrow, namely to go back to the original
legends on which Wagner specifically drew.
As I wrote (in my quoted S&F piece): "When we consult the score itself, ALWAYS THE ONLY PERMISSIBLE AUTHORITY IN SUCH MATTERS [emphasis added], we find Wagner being somewhat ambiguous on the matter...."

That's what I wrote and that's what I meant. As always, Wagner's sources are Wagner's business and none of ours (except as a matter of intellectual curiosity).

ACD
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-05 20:06:09 UTC
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Post by A.C. Douglas
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Unfortunately the only way to "understand" this definitely is the way
ACD always denies before cockcrow, namely to go back to the original
legends on which Wagner specifically drew.
As I wrote (in my quoted S&F piece): "When we consult the score itself, ALWAYS THE ONLY PERMISSIBLE AUTHORITY IN SUCH MATTERS [emphasis added], we find Wagner being somewhat ambiguous on the matter...."
That's what I wrote and that's what I meant. As always, Wagner's sources are Wagner's business and none of ours (except as a matter of intellectual curiosity).
ACD
Idiot
Bert Coules
2015-12-05 19:48:05 UTC
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I've always assumed, possibly incorrectly, that "Mark blesses the corpses"
refers at least primarily to those of Tristan and Isolde. Quite apart from
anything else, the prospect of him wandering around the stage pausing at
every corpse is a tad absurd and would surely detract from the solemnity and
focus of the ending of the show.
A.C. Douglas
2015-12-05 21:38:30 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
I've always assumed, possibly incorrectly, that "Mark blesses the
corpses" refers at least primarily to those of Tristan and Isolde. Quite
apart from anything else, the prospect of him wandering around the stage
pausing at every corpse is a tad absurd and would surely detract from
the solemnity and focus of the ending of the show.
Indeed it would and so perfectly absurd. Any director who was imbecile enough to even suggest staging it that way ought to be subject to summary dismissal. Marke first blesses the lifeless bodies of Tristan and Isolde and then simply turns to face the bodies strewn about the stage (all of whom are his countrymen) and blesses them all with a single grand and heartfelt gesture.

ACD
A.C. Douglas
2015-12-05 21:44:11 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
I've always assumed, possibly incorrectly, that "Mark blesses the
corpses" refers at least primarily to those of Tristan and Isolde. Quite
apart from anything else, the prospect of him wandering around the stage
pausing at every corpse is a tad absurd and would surely detract from
the solemnity and focus of the ending of the show.
Indeed it would and so perfectly absurd. Any director who was imbecile enough to even suggest staging it that way ought to be subject to summary dismissal. Marke first blesses the lifeless bodies of Tristan and Isolde and then simply turns to face the bodies strewn about the stage (all of whom are his countrymen) and blesses them all with a single grand and solemn heartfelt gesture.

ACD
Richard Partridge
2015-12-05 21:09:20 UTC
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Raw Message
On 12/5/15 1:09 PM, Mike Scott Rohan, at
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Richard Partridge
Mike-
Wouldn't the meaning of "wie leblos" be a little different from just
"leblos?" I would think it could best be translated as "as if lifeless."
Dick Partridge
Well, yes, that's the point made by several people. The "wie" makes it a clear
simile. But you will find "as if lifeless" and "lifeless" used as equivalents
in 18th and 19th century English, whereas in modern English it would only be
understood as "dead". The same seems to have been true in German, and indeed
in French as well, sometimes. In that case the "wie" or "as if" is omitted,
for dramatic effect if you like, but the expression then becomes metaphoric.
Or, of course, literal; but when a literary type really wanted to depict
someone literally falling dead, they tended to be a bit more flowery about it
-- though that wasn't always true of Wagner. Hence the question!
Cheers,
Mike
I've wondered about what happened to Elektra at the end of Strauss's opera.
In the myth, as I recall, she lives on and in due course marries Orestes'
companion. But the stage directions for the opera, as I recall (I can't put
my hands on my copy of the libretto), say she "stürzt zusammen," which
sounds pretty serious but may allow a chance for survival.


Dick Partridge
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-06 10:05:02 UTC
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Post by Richard Partridge
On 12/5/15 1:09 PM, Mike Scott Rohan, at
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Richard Partridge
Mike-
Wouldn't the meaning of "wie leblos" be a little different from just
"leblos?" I would think it could best be translated as "as if lifeless."
Dick Partridge
Well, yes, that's the point made by several people. The "wie" makes it a clear
simile. But you will find "as if lifeless" and "lifeless" used as equivalents
in 18th and 19th century English, whereas in modern English it would only be
understood as "dead". The same seems to have been true in German, and indeed
in French as well, sometimes. In that case the "wie" or "as if" is omitted,
for dramatic effect if you like, but the expression then becomes metaphoric.
Or, of course, literal; but when a literary type really wanted to depict
someone literally falling dead, they tended to be a bit more flowery about it
-- though that wasn't always true of Wagner. Hence the question!
Cheers,
Mike
I've wondered about what happened to Elektra at the end of Strauss's opera.
In the myth, as I recall, she lives on and in due course marries Orestes'
companion. But the stage directions for the opera, as I recall (I can't put
my hands on my copy of the libretto), say she "stürzt zusammen," which
sounds pretty serious but may allow a chance for survival.
Dick Partridge
Oh she's dead but again the physicality doesn't matter 0 in Strauss opera revenge was everything to her and once she had it she had no reason to live any longer
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-07 11:39:35 UTC
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Oh she's dead but again the physicality doesn't matter 0 in Strauss opera revenge was everything to her and once she had it she had no reason to live any longer
As far as Hofmannsthal's conception of the story goes, that's right. But there isn't a single "right" version. Variations in Greek myth were entirely common -- look at the number of versions of the Argonaut story, or all the women Theseus was supposed to have married and deserted. Having characters live on and marry was often an extension of myth intended to associate them with a particular town or region, or its local hero/deity,something like that. It may be that she died in the original version but perhaps not; women didn't count for so much in Greek society, one way or the other, so it's Orestes the Furies pursued, not her (pace Idomeneo, which suggests otherwise).

Cheers,

Mike
REP
2015-12-05 23:14:59 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
But you will find "as if lifeless" and "lifeless" used as equivalents in 18th and 19th century English, whereas in modern English it would only be understood as "dead".
Not true, I'm afraid. I've encountered the "apparently dead" usage of lifeless in modern fiction more than once. The first instance that comes to mind is this one from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

'"We attacked a teacher... We attacked a teacher...," Hermione whimpered, staring at the lifeless Snape with frightened eyes.'

REP
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-07 11:31:34 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
But you will find "as if lifeless" and "lifeless" used as equivalents in 18th and 19th century English, whereas in modern English it would only be understood as "dead".
'"We attacked a teacher... We attacked a teacher...," Hermione whimpered, staring at the lifeless Snape with frightened eyes.'
REP
Interesting -- I accept the correction, but it's certainly an unusual use these days. I wonder if Rowling was being deliberately slightly old-fashioned, or whether it might be something she picked up in her reading. It's not especially Scottish, which some of her expressions are.

Cheers,

Mike
Richard Partridge
2015-12-07 16:06:57 UTC
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On 12/7/15 6:31 AM, Mike Scott Rohan, at
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by REP
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
But you will find "as if lifeless" and "lifeless" used as equivalents in
18th and 19th century English, whereas in modern English it would only be
understood as "dead".
Not true, I'm afraid. I've encountered the "apparently dead" usage of
lifeless in modern fiction more than once. The first instance that comes to
'"We attacked a teacher... We attacked a teacher...," Hermione whimpered,
staring at the lifeless Snape with frightened eyes.'
REP
Interesting -- I accept the correction, but it's certainly an unusual use
these days. I wonder if Rowling was being deliberately slightly old-fashioned,
or whether it might be something she picked up in her reading. It's not
especially Scottish, which some of her expressions are.
Cheers,
Mike
It's only a children's book, of course, even if an exceptionally good one.
I expect she was looking for a melodramatic effect.


Dick Partridge
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-09 17:52:39 UTC
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Post by Richard Partridge
It's only a children's book, of course, even if an exceptionally good one.
I expect she was looking for a melodramatic effect.
Dick Partridge
True, though I'd never say "only" a children's book. Speaking as both writer and editor, they're much harder to write. And though I rather dislike Rowling as a person and have no opinion of her style, she's definitely got something; it's no accident there are also adult editions of her books here. It's possible to get away with a great deal more bull in a self-consciously "adult" book (how else does one explain the career of, say, Michel Houllebeque?. Children are easier to baffle, perhaps, at first, but they're a lot less tolerant. And many great writers have written great books for children -- Robert Louis Stevenson, for one. There is an artistic vision IMHO which transcends generations, and I think Wagner is actually a prime example -- it goes with both his unfettered imagination, his unselfconsciousness personal and artistic, and less admirably, his extreme self-centredness and tendency to tantrums....

Cheers,

Mike
REP
2015-12-09 18:56:42 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Richard Partridge
It's only a children's book, of course, even if an exceptionally good one.
I expect she was looking for a melodramatic effect.
Dick Partridge
True, though I'd never say "only" a children's book. Speaking as both writer and editor, they're much harder to write. And though I rather dislike Rowling as a person and have no opinion of her style, she's definitely got something; it's no accident there are also adult editions of her books here. It's possible to get away with a great deal more bull in a self-consciously "adult" book (how else does one explain the career of, say, Michel Houllebeque?. Children are easier to baffle, perhaps, at first, but they're a lot less tolerant. And many great writers have written great books for children -- Robert Louis Stevenson, for one. There is an artistic vision IMHO which transcends generations, and I think Wagner is actually a prime example -- it goes with both his unfettered imagination, his unselfconsciousness personal and artistic, and less admirably, his extreme self-centredness and tendency to tantrums....
Cheers,
Mike
Well, I'm glad your judgement isn't clouded like so many writers who seem personally offended by Harry Potter's success.

I've found that Richard's reaction is fairly common. There's a great deal of pressure from the literary establishment to dismiss Harry Potter as "only a children's series," in the same way that The Hound of the Baskervilles is only a detective novel, The Lord of the Rings is only a fairy tale, etc. As a result, people fear being ridiculed for liking it, or at least liking it too much. More so because it still bears the curse of being both fairly new and exceedingly popular.

But I think the series has great literary value. I reread it last spring, along with many of my own childhood favorites -- The Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc. -- and not even the glamour of nostalgia could tip the scales in the latter's favor; Harry Potter was better.

I do have qualms with the series as a whole (the quality seems to decline after the third book), but I'm comfortable saying that the first book is a masterpiece of children's literature, and the third book is a full-fledged literary masterpiece.

REP
A.C. Douglas
2015-12-09 20:47:07 UTC
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There's a great deal of pressure from the literary establishment to
dismiss Harry Potter as "only a children's series," in the same way that
The Hound of the Baskervilles is only a detective novel, The Lord of the
Rings is only a fairy tale, etc. [...] But I think the series has great
literary value. I reread it last spring, along with many of my own
childhood favorites ... and not even the glamour of nostalgia could tip
the scales in the latter's favor; Harry Potter was better.
I most heartily agree re, the literary value of Rowling's _Potter_ books and wrote at length about it in a 2004 S&F entry titled "Harry Potter And The Literary Elitist" (http://tinyurl.com/j5gushz).

An extract:

=== Begin Quote ===
I'm late to the party, I know, having only in the past month taken up the Harry Potter books, compelled finally by the unprecedented publishing success of the series. I'm no fan of genre fiction generally, and near the very bottom of my list is fantasy fiction (I managed to slog through the first book of _The Lord of the Rings_ trilogy many years ago, but just barely), edged out of last place only by science fiction, a genre I most heartily loathe largely because of its hey-look-at-me use of the weird and paradoxical in physical and astronomic theory, and because of its risible literary pretensions.

I've now read Books 1-4 of the Harry Potter series, and I'm somewhat chagrined to confess I found them all rather charming (which is, after all, only fit), even fairly engaging in a quick-read sort of way (it took me some five days to read all four books; all 1800 pages worth). J.K. Rowling is clearly a storyteller of considerable narrative gift who immediately calls to mind no-one so much as the Conan Doyle of the classic Sherlock Holmes tales, and a writer of a not inconsiderable fantastical imagination. The Harry Potter books are, for the most part, a clever and skillful patchwork of fairytale, saga, and mythological motifs and devices intelligently and imaginatively applied with a soupçon of _Star Trek_ and _Star Wars_, and a fair bit more than a soupçon of Tolkien, and of English boarding school movies cum Nancy Drew and Andy Hardy.

And, surprisingly, it all somehow works.

One might be tempted to level the charge that the motifs and devices, as well as the various character types that act them out in the Potter books, are cliché or stereotypical, but one would be wrong. They're neither clichés nor stereotypes but archetypes, which is why, in the hands of someone with the requisite imaginative narrative gift, they all can be employed again and again, and still remain fresh, and psychologically resonant and affective.
=== End Quote ===

There follows a not trivial objection to the series (so much of it as I'd read so far at the time) but the piece closes with the sentences: "It's not often a gifted storyteller like Ms. Rowling comes along, and when one does, we quite naturally want the maximum she's capable of providing. Ms. Rowling, I'm convinced, is capable of more."

ACD
Richard Partridge
2015-12-10 15:34:57 UTC
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Post by REP
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Richard Partridge
It's only a children's book, of course, even if an exceptionally good one.
I expect she was looking for a melodramatic effect.
Dick Partridge
True, though I'd never say "only" a children's book. Speaking as both writer
and editor, they're much harder to write. And though I rather dislike Rowling
as a person and have no opinion of her style, she's definitely got something;
it's no accident there are also adult editions of her books here. It's
possible to get away with a great deal more bull in a self-consciously
"adult" book (how else does one explain the career of, say, Michel
Houllebeque?. Children are easier to baffle, perhaps, at first, but they're a
lot less tolerant. And many great writers have written great books for
children -- Robert Louis Stevenson, for one. There is an artistic vision IMHO
which transcends generations, and I think Wagner is actually a prime example
-- it goes with both his unfettered imagination, his unselfconsciousness
personal and artistic, and less admirably, his extreme self-centredness and
tendency to tantrums....
Cheers,
Mike
Well, I'm glad your judgement isn't clouded like so many writers who seem
personally offended by Harry Potter's success.
I've found that Richard's reaction is fairly common. There's a great deal of
pressure from the literary establishment to dismiss Harry Potter as "only a
children's series," in the same way that The Hound of the Baskervilles is only
a detective novel, The Lord of the Rings is only a fairy tale, etc. As a
result, people fear being ridiculed for liking it, or at least liking it too
much. More so because it still bears the curse of being both fairly new and
exceedingly popular.
But I think the series has great literary value. I reread it last spring,
along with many of my own childhood favorites -- The Wizard of Oz, The Phantom
Tollbooth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc. -- and not even the glamour
of nostalgia could tip the scales in the latter's favor; Harry Potter was
better.
I do have qualms with the series as a whole (the quality seems to decline
after the third book), but I'm comfortable saying that the first book is a
masterpiece of children's literature, and the third book is a full-fledged
literary masterpiece.
REP
I read all the Harry Potter books and I enjoyed them a lot, but I would not
call them literature. She plots a very interesting story and tells it well,
but her style is nothing remarkable and her characters have no depth. I
won't retract the word "only."


Dick Partridge
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-17 21:32:42 UTC
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Well, I'm glad your judgement isn't clouded like so many writers who seem personally offended by Harry Potter's success.
They always are, when it isn't theirs. Mind you, when you know how little even an apparently successful writer actually makes, Rowling's riches do seem a bit out of proportion to her objective quality. I've been among the top-earning 5% of British writers, but Rowling and just a couple of others have apparently accounted for something more than 85% of *all* literary earnings. I don't blame some people for finding that a little top-heavy. The more so, given her weaknesses.
Post by REP
I've found that Richard's reaction is fairly common. There's a great deal of pressure from the literary establishment to dismiss Harry Potter as "only a children's series," in the same way that The Hound of the Baskervilles is only a detective novel, The Lord of the Rings is only a fairy tale, etc. As a result, people fear being ridiculed for liking it, or at least liking it too much. More so because it still bears the curse of being both fairly new and exceedingly popular.
But I think the series has great literary value. I reread it last spring, along with many of my own childhood favorites -- The Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc. -- and not even the glamour of nostalgia could tip the scales in the latter's favor; Harry Potter was better.
I do have qualms with the series as a whole (the quality seems to decline after the third book), but I'm comfortable saying that the first book is a masterpiece of children's literature, and the third book is a full-fledged literary masterpiece.
REP
I have my reservations. I must admit. To say she owes a lot to other writers is a vast understatement, from Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (a real classic) to The Worst Witch series, which depict a witching school all too like Hogwarts (a name owed to Geoffrey Willans' Molesworth books). And the sillinesses in the early books and the ponderous self-importance of the later ones are hers alone. Personally, while I admire much of her invention and the way she catches childrens' characters and attitudes, I prefer the films; they clean up and intensify her narratives. But I would never underestimate her storytelling ability, her clever quirks even if they don't always work, or patronize her for appealing to children and adults at the same time; so yes, she does seem to be a new classic. In any case she lives not far from me in Edinburgh*, so I don't want her sending the goons round...

Cheers,

Mike


*Near Merchiston Castle School, a crumbling pile which very probably inspired Hogwarts. Edinburgh schoolboys playing rugby certainly inspired quidditch, waking up in the san included (happened to me once or twice). While Olivander's shop looks *exactly* like my own old school outfitters, creepy counterman and all. Come to that, Rowling wrote much of the first book in my own favourite coffee-house, the Laigh (now closed, alas). I must have favoured the wrong end of the table.
Richard Partridge
2015-12-10 15:26:51 UTC
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On 12/9/15 12:52 PM, Mike Scott Rohan, at
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Richard Partridge
It's only a children's book, of course, even if an exceptionally good one.
I expect she was looking for a melodramatic effect.
Dick Partridge
True, though I'd never say "only" a children's book. Speaking as both writer
and editor, they're much harder to write. And though I rather dislike Rowling
as a person and have no opinion of her style, she's definitely got something;
it's no accident there are also adult editions of her books here. It's
possible to get away with a great deal more bull in a self-consciously "adult"
book (how else does one explain the career of, say, Michel Houllebeque?.
Children are easier to baffle, perhaps, at first, but they're a lot less
tolerant. And many great writers have written great books for children --
Robert Louis Stevenson, for one. There is an artistic vision IMHO which
transcends generations, and I think Wagner is actually a prime example -- it
goes with both his unfettered imagination, his unselfconsciousness personal
and artistic, and less admirably, his extreme self-centredness and tendency to
tantrums....
Cheers,
Mike
I can't think of Jo Rowling without thinking of that poor Portuguese fellow
she was married to briefly. They had some violent rows and at one point he
physically threw her out of the house. How he must kick himself now! He
may be a real S.O.B., but it's hard not to feel a little sorry for him.


Dick Partridge
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-03 01:43:44 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
...he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to
the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically...
And the award for the Finest Wagnerian Understatement of 2015 goes to...
Er, touché. But I did say "suggest" rather than embody or personify. Some tenors can suggest a quite reasonable-looking hero, but a fairly ordinary one. But I have seen one or two who just about managed to look right and suggest the essential otherworldliness, at least at stage distance. Remedios was one, before the waistline set in. Domingo carried it off by sheer charisma and a look of Hispanic nobilitas which was probably quite appropriate for Montsalvat. But the palm must surely go to Peter Hofmann; when he popped up on the Bayreuth video (in the white tights) every female present went simply gooey, and some males too no doubt, yet he did manage to suggest something a bit higher and more remote as well. Not so on the Met video, IMHO; maybe he just responded to Karan Armstrong better than Eva Marton, who knows?
I do think the supernatural quality is essential, though, because it suggests that for all the good will and Elsa's devotion this is never going to work. Lohengrin is an intrusion into reality, an anomaly that can't by its own nature be sustained. With the inevitability of folk tale the taboo must be broken, the question must be asked, the intrusion removed and the mundane balance restored -- the balance, if you like, that Ortrud tipped the wrong way with her enchantment. It's on this balance that the dreamer, Elsa, is broken, as dreamers often are; or, more accurately, she breaks herself. I've never been sure whether she's meant to die at the end; I can't remember what Wagner had to say on the point, but I don't think it's explicit in the libretto. I think it subtler if she doesn't, but is left, as after another such supernatural seduction, "alone and palely loitering".
Cheers,
Mike
Not only did Peter look like the perfect Swan Knight - his acting was so natural, sweet and noble. I found Armstrong a bit wrong vocally as Elsa - the voice too heavy and awkwardly produced - the opening night audience agreed which infuriated her husband Gotz Friedrich so much he refused to take his curtain calls
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-04 18:00:50 UTC
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Post by Jay Kauffman
Not only did Peter look like the perfect Swan Knight - his acting was so natural, sweet and noble. I found Armstrong a bit wrong vocally as Elsa - the voice too heavy and awkwardly produced - the opening night audience agreed which infuriated her husband Gotz Friedrich so much he refused to take his curtain calls
So I heard. But some people found her voice too light, oddly enough -- no doubt compared to the likes of Marton. Like you, I felt production might have been the problem, but she was by no means intolerable and acted well, as she had when I heard her in other roles in Munich and elsewhere. I heard her in the flesh as Brunnhilde a few years later (also a Friedrich staging) and while she wasn't bad it still seemed more of a middle-weight heroic voice, really stretched by the Immolation. Possibly Elsa's lyrical line exposed problems one could overlook in Brunnhilde's more vigorous phrasing.

Cheers,

Mike
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-04 18:12:51 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
Not only did Peter look like the perfect Swan Knight - his acting was so
natural, sweet and noble. I found Armstrong a bit wrong vocally as Elsa -
the voice too heavy and awkwardly produced - the opening night audience
agreed which infuriated her husband Gotz Friedrich so much he refused to
take his curtain calls
So I heard. But some people found her voice too light, oddly enough -- no
doubt compared to the likes of Marton. Like you, I felt production might have
been the problem, but she was by no means intolerable and acted well, as she
had when I heard her in other roles in Munich and elsewhere. I heard her in
the flesh as Brunnhilde a few years later (also a Friedrich staging) and
while she wasn't bad it still seemed more of a middle-weight heroic voice,
really stretched by the Immolation. Possibly Elsa's lyrical line exposed
problems one could overlook in Brunnhilde's more vigorous phrasing.
Cheers,
Mike
When I was in Bayreuth at the time, I found Hofmann-Armstrong more or
less the perfect couple for their roles. Two young looking and very
well singing persons.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-04 18:35:52 UTC
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Post by Herman van der Woude
When I was in Bayreuth at the time, I found Hofmann-Armstrong more or
less the perfect couple for their roles. Two young looking and very
well singing persons.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Yes, indeed. Singers who both look and sound like that are so rare it seems a little ungrateful to quibble about the absolute details of their voices. OK, Armstrong wasn't the greatest vocally, Hoffmann could sound dry on an off night and moved awkwardly after his motorcycle crash, but they were still an enhancement to the stage experience. I remember spotting Hoffmann offstage in San Francisco, with his then wife Deborah Sasson, who was singing a Rhinemaiden, and even on the street they made a really striking couple.

Equally, though, a really good and committed singer can overcome his appearance, at least to a very large extent. Jon Frederic West's Siegfried at Stuttgart, in a dismal production, just looked like a fat oaf, but when I saw him at the Met, though he was still just as fat, his sheer sparkle (despite the fact that he was walking with a stick offstage) and characterful singing really made me accept him as readily as Siegfried Jerusalem, or even more so, because his good humour was both more apparent and more convincing. Hoffmann was good in slightly darker roles, temperamentally (a superb Max in Freischutz, Siegmund of course and Florestan); even if he had the power for Siegfried, I don't feel it would have suited him.

Cheers,

Mike
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-04 18:46:08 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Herman van der Woude
When I was in Bayreuth at the time, I found Hofmann-Armstrong more or
less the perfect couple for their roles. Two young looking and very
well singing persons.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Yes, indeed. Singers who both look and sound like that are so rare it seems a
little ungrateful to quibble about the absolute details of their voices. OK,
Armstrong wasn't the greatest vocally, Hoffmann could sound dry on an off
night and moved awkwardly after his motorcycle crash, but they were still an
enhancement to the stage experience. I remember spotting Hoffmann offstage in
San Francisco, with his then wife Deborah Sasson, who was singing a
Rhinemaiden, and even on the street they made a really striking couple.
Equally, though, a really good and committed singer can overcome his
appearance, at least to a very large extent. Jon Frederic West's Siegfried at
Stuttgart, in a dismal production, just looked like a fat oaf, but when I saw
him at the Met, though he was still just as fat, his sheer sparkle (despite
the fact that he was walking with a stick offstage) and characterful singing
really made me accept him as readily as Siegfried Jerusalem, or even more so,
because his good humour was both more apparent and more convincing. Hoffmann
was good in slightly darker roles, temperamentally (a superb Max in
Freischutz, Siegmund of course and Florestan); even if he had the power for
Siegfried, I don't feel it would have suited him.
Cheers,
Mike
Mike, I see what you mean. In short, Lohengrin, Siegmund (not
Siegfried) and Parsifal, to stay with Wagner, were Hoffmann's roles.
All other - not sure, even if he could vocally cope with the demands.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Bert Coules
2015-12-04 23:33:28 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Yes, indeed. Singers who both look and sound like
that are so rare it seems a little ungrateful to
quibble about the absolute details of their voices.
I think the most striking example of this for me was Helge Brilioth in a
complete Covent Garden Ring. He'd been criticised for his Siegfried in on
the Karajan Götterdämmerung recording as being far too lightweight, but on
stage he was so compelling, so refreshingly active and youthful, that any
deficiencies were scarcely evident.

Bert
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-04 18:58:25 UTC
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Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
Not only did Peter look like the perfect Swan Knight - his acting was so
natural, sweet and noble. I found Armstrong a bit wrong vocally as Elsa -
the voice too heavy and awkwardly produced - the opening night audience
agreed which infuriated her husband Gotz Friedrich so much he refused to
take his curtain calls
So I heard. But some people found her voice too light, oddly enough -- no
doubt compared to the likes of Marton. Like you, I felt production might have
been the problem, but she was by no means intolerable and acted well, as she
had when I heard her in other roles in Munich and elsewhere. I heard her in
the flesh as Brunnhilde a few years later (also a Friedrich staging) and
while she wasn't bad it still seemed more of a middle-weight heroic voice,
really stretched by the Immolation. Possibly Elsa's lyrical line exposed
problems one could overlook in Brunnhilde's more vigorous phrasing.
Cheers,
Mike
When I was in Bayreuth at the time, I found Hofmann-Armstrong more or
less the perfect couple for their roles. Two young looking and very
well singing persons.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
I felt the same way about Hofmann=-Altmeyer. They actually looked like brother and sister and very easy to look at
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-04 19:38:24 UTC
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Post by Jay Kauffman
Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
Not only did Peter look like the perfect Swan Knight - his acting was so
natural, sweet and noble. I found Armstrong a bit wrong vocally as Elsa -
the voice too heavy and awkwardly produced - the opening night audience
agreed which infuriated her husband Gotz Friedrich so much he refused to
take his curtain calls
So I heard. But some people found her voice too light, oddly enough -- no
doubt compared to the likes of Marton. Like you, I felt production might
have been the problem, but she was by no means intolerable and acted well,
as she had when I heard her in other roles in Munich and elsewhere. I
heard her in the flesh as Brunnhilde a few years later (also a Friedrich
staging) and while she wasn't bad it still seemed more of a middle-weight
heroic voice, really stretched by the Immolation. Possibly Elsa's lyrical
line exposed problems one could overlook in Brunnhilde's more vigorous
phrasing.
Cheers,
Mike
When I was in Bayreuth at the time, I found Hofmann-Armstrong more or
less the perfect couple for their roles. Two young looking and very
well singing persons.
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
I felt the same way about Hofmann=-Altmeyer. They actually looked like
brother and sister and very easy to look at
I know what you mean, it was, as they call it, the "chemistry" between
the two singers, Hofmann-Armstrong, Hofmann-Altmeyer..., and they all
had not only good looks, but also good voices, which is not too bad for
opera ;-)
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-02 00:15:50 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by REP
I like Vogt, but I can see how he's not to everyone's tastes. His tone is unlike any other heldentenor.
I'm surprised you left out James King, though. I think he's quite effective in the Kubelik recording.
REP
Unlike, certainly; I'm not sure whether I'd call him a Heldentenor at all. But it is a matter of taste.
King is very good, indeed, and I really enjoy the Kubelik recording as a whole; it was unfairly dismissed in favour of the Kempe when it first came out, partly because of Gwyneth Jones vis-à-vis Christa Ludwig, but I was very glad to re-assess it when it reappeared on CD -- I believe I gave it a five-star review. Janowitz is simply in a class of her own.
I still feel the Kempe is better, honking Otto Wiener notwithstanding, and Grummer rather late in her excellent career; Fischer-Dieskau and Ludwig, though, simply sweep the board for me, and Frick also. Between Thomas and King I feel there's little to choose; King might even be better, I wouldn't argue it. They both belong to the more earthbound Lohengrins -- not necessarily a bad thing, the character shouldn't sound too airy-fairy and detached, let alone as fluty as Vogt or as thin as Paul Frey. But when a tenor can combine a sufficiently heroic sound with a degree of poetic otherworldliness, that for me is nearer the ideal. I feel that he has to suggest something immediately miraculous or supernatural to the other characters, and since this is beyond most tenors physically, it has to be done vocally.
Cheers,
Mike
I know I am in the minority regarding the second Kempe since I am a fan of his but I find Kubelik much more involved and dramatic. Maybe its the EMI recording (Theater an der Wien) but the brass and the choir have very little impact and that hurts in this opera. But I also find Kempe himself not as alive as in the earlier Urania version - as rough as that can be it has an immediacy missing from the EMI. Between King and Thomas I agree thet are both fairly earthbound and foursquare - I guess solid is a good word. Grummer was late in the day but I far prefer her to Janowitz who sings beautifully and almost totally without inflection or drama - she bores me here. I am a great admirer of Frick but he was far below par in the EMI in a constant struggle with the upper register and often losing - Ridderbusch is much better and the plangency of tone that for me ruins his Hagen is perfect for the King and gives him a badly needed humanity. Wiener is a total write off.
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-02 18:20:01 UTC
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I know I am in the minority regarding the second Kempe since I am a fan of his but I find Kubelik much more involved and dramatic. Maybe its the EMI recording (Theater an der Wien) but the brass and the choir have very little impact and that hurts in this opera. But I also find Kempe himself not as alive as in the earlier Urania version - as rough as that can be it has an immediacy missing from the EMI. Between King and Thomas I agree thet are both fairly earthbound and foursquare - I guess solid is a good word. Grummer was late in the day but I far prefer her to Janowitz who sings beautifully and almost totally without inflection or drama - she bores me here. I am a great admirer of Frick but he was far below par in the EMI in a constant struggle with the upper register and often losing - Ridderbusch is much better and the plangency of tone that for me ruins his Hagen is perfect for the King and gives him a badly needed humanity. Wiener is a total write off.
My preference goes slightly the other way, but only slightly. I don't think Frick is a problem, given what most of his rivals sound like -- certainly not compared to his unhappy EMI Sarastro for Klemperer a few years earlier -- and I find him meatier and more characterful than Ridderbusch, good as he is. I felt the same hearing both of them live. (I must admit I may be slightly biased because I loathed R on my only encounter -- a bloated unregenerate old Hitlerjugend; Frick was not untarred by the same brush, but a much more amiable character by all accounts.) Janowitz -- well, she's so often called cold and inexpressive, but I don't find her so. A rotten stage actress, yes, which may not have helped; the best you could call her was stately, though she managed quite well in Bernstein's Fidelio. But I do hear expression in her Elsa and Sieglinde, even if it's not as upfront as some; it helps that she inhabits the music, if that's not too abstruse an expression, so naturally. Which isn't to run down Grummer, whom I would really liked to have heard on stage -- although I gather she wasn't that great an actress either. Kempe's conducting as against Kubelik? Neither's perfect, for me; Kempe is sometimes a bit foursquare, as you suggest, but then I find Kubelik sometimes just that bit too expansive -- in Lohengrin's arrival, for example, where Kempe keeps the tension a bit better wound. And Act II generally works better for me under Kempe, both the dark opening and the daylight festivities; but it's a pretty narrow margin, they're both so good, and Kubelik has the better recording, though that only became more apparent on CD IMHO. Overall I prefer Kempe's pacing, just. But along with Abbado I think they're my favourites among the legit recordings, although it's surprising how well the score works in the hands of unpretentious but stagewise conductors like Stein and Nelsson, and how badly with some greats -- Karajan, Solti and my biggest disappointment, Leinsdorf. Barenboim's better, but doesn't match the two Ks. I haven't heard all the Bayreuth versions -- are there any especially good ones?

Cheers,

Mike
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-03 01:38:47 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
I know I am in the minority regarding the second Kempe since I am a fan of his but I find Kubelik much more involved and dramatic. Maybe its the EMI recording (Theater an der Wien) but the brass and the choir have very little impact and that hurts in this opera. But I also find Kempe himself not as alive as in the earlier Urania version - as rough as that can be it has an immediacy missing from the EMI. Between King and Thomas I agree thet are both fairly earthbound and foursquare - I guess solid is a good word. Grummer was late in the day but I far prefer her to Janowitz who sings beautifully and almost totally without inflection or drama - she bores me here. I am a great admirer of Frick but he was far below par in the EMI in a constant struggle with the upper register and often losing - Ridderbusch is much better and the plangency of tone that for me ruins his Hagen is perfect for the King and gives him a badly needed humanity. Wiener is a total write off.
My preference goes slightly the other way, but only slightly. I don't think Frick is a problem, given what most of his rivals sound like -- certainly not compared to his unhappy EMI Sarastro for Klemperer a few years earlier -- and I find him meatier and more characterful than Ridderbusch, good as he is. I felt the same hearing both of them live. (I must admit I may be slightly biased because I loathed R on my only encounter -- a bloated unregenerate old Hitlerjugend; Frick was not untarred by the same brush, but a much more amiable character by all accounts.) Janowitz -- well, she's so often called cold and inexpressive, but I don't find her so. A rotten stage actress, yes, which may not have helped; the best you could call her was stately, though she managed quite well in Bernstein's Fidelio. But I do hear expression in her Elsa and Sieglinde, even if it's not as upfront as some; it helps that she inhabits the music, if that's not too abstruse an expression, so naturally. Which isn't to run down Grummer, whom I would really liked to have heard on stage -- although I gather she wasn't that great an actress either. Kempe's conducting as against Kubelik? Neither's perfect, for me; Kempe is sometimes a bit foursquare, as you suggest, but then I find Kubelik sometimes just that bit too expansive -- in Lohengrin's arrival, for example, where Kempe keeps the tension a bit better wound. And Act II generally works better for me under Kempe, both the dark opening and the daylight festivities; but it's a pretty narrow margin, they're both so good, and Kubelik has the better recording, though that only became more apparent on CD IMHO. Overall I prefer Kempe's pacing, just. But along with Abbado I think they're my favourites among the legit recordings, although it's surprising how well the score works in the hands of unpretentious but stagewise conductors like Stein and Nelsson, and how badly with some greats -- Karajan, Solti and my biggest disappointment, Leinsdorf. Barenboim's better, but doesn't match the two Ks. I haven't heard all the Bayreuth versions -- are there any especially good ones?
Cheers,
Mike
Yes the 1953 is awfully good - Keilberth was surprisingly effective in the 1950s and his 53 Lohengrin has real urgency in Act One and some incredibly beautiful playing later on (the musical interlude after the first Elsa Otrud scene in Act Two e.g.) You also have the superb Elsa of Steber - the voice is exactly the right weight and timbre (it is often cast too lightly). and she is involved and 'on" She is up against Varnay in her prime as Ortrud - so insinuating and truly a believer in the old religion. Telramund is Uhde who is dry of voice but SO dramatic - and never self pitying the way Fi-Di can sometimes seem. Royalty is not too well served since Greindl has his usual wobble and Hans Braun is as usual dull as his Herald. Now for Windgassen - he has his usual attractive timbre abut there are pitch problems her is sometimes tired (he also sang all the Siegfrieds in 1953), But the whole is much more than the some of the parts and the live ambience adds a lot. Very nicely transferred on Naxos - also available on Teldec,

Also the 1959 Bayreuth Lohengrin has Konya, Grummer, Gorr and Blanc all in their primes under Matacic - WOW!!!!
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-03 01:39:55 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
I know I am in the minority regarding the second Kempe since I am a fan of his but I find Kubelik much more involved and dramatic. Maybe its the EMI recording (Theater an der Wien) but the brass and the choir have very little impact and that hurts in this opera. But I also find Kempe himself not as alive as in the earlier Urania version - as rough as that can be it has an immediacy missing from the EMI. Between King and Thomas I agree thet are both fairly earthbound and foursquare - I guess solid is a good word. Grummer was late in the day but I far prefer her to Janowitz who sings beautifully and almost totally without inflection or drama - she bores me here. I am a great admirer of Frick but he was far below par in the EMI in a constant struggle with the upper register and often losing - Ridderbusch is much better and the plangency of tone that for me ruins his Hagen is perfect for the King and gives him a badly needed humanity. Wiener is a total write off.
My preference goes slightly the other way, but only slightly. I don't think Frick is a problem, given what most of his rivals sound like -- certainly not compared to his unhappy EMI Sarastro for Klemperer a few years earlier -- and I find him meatier and more characterful than Ridderbusch, good as he is. I felt the same hearing both of them live. (I must admit I may be slightly biased because I loathed R on my only encounter -- a bloated unregenerate old Hitlerjugend; Frick was not untarred by the same brush, but a much more amiable character by all accounts.) Janowitz -- well, she's so often called cold and inexpressive, but I don't find her so. A rotten stage actress, yes, which may not have helped; the best you could call her was stately, though she managed quite well in Bernstein's Fidelio. But I do hear expression in her Elsa and Sieglinde, even if it's not as upfront as some; it helps that she inhabits the music, if that's not too abstruse an expression, so naturally. Which isn't to run down Grummer, whom I would really liked to have heard on stage -- although I gather she wasn't that great an actress either. Kempe's conducting as against Kubelik? Neither's perfect, for me; Kempe is sometimes a bit foursquare, as you suggest, but then I find Kubelik sometimes just that bit too expansive -- in Lohengrin's arrival, for example, where Kempe keeps the tension a bit better wound. And Act II generally works better for me under Kempe, both the dark opening and the daylight festivities; but it's a pretty narrow margin, they're both so good, and Kubelik has the better recording, though that only became more apparent on CD IMHO. Overall I prefer Kempe's pacing, just. But along with Abbado I think they're my favourites among the legit recordings, although it's surprising how well the score works in the hands of unpretentious but stagewise conductors like Stein and Nelsson, and how badly with some greats -- Karajan, Solti and my biggest disappointment, Leinsdorf. Barenboim's better, but doesn't match the two Ks. I haven't heard all the Bayreuth versions -- are there any especially good ones?
Cheers,
Mike
Small point - Fricks Sarastro and Heinrich are both from 1964,
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-04 18:05:42 UTC
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Small point - Fricks Sarastro and Heinrich are both from 1964,
Knew I should have checked when dealing with you! But I believe the Flute was recorded first, a debut for both Janowitz and Popp, and thought it was a couple of years earlier. I don't think Frick's problems were of that period only, as I remember his Sarastro arias on 45 singles display very similar unsteadiness. He seems to have shaken it off later on, though, and it was nothing compared to some of his contemporaries.

Cheers,

Mike
REP
2015-12-03 21:29:23 UTC
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I like Vogt, but I can see how he's not to everyone's tastes. His tone is unlike any other heldentenor.
I'm surprised you left out James King, though. I think he's quite effective in the Kubelik recording.
REP
Unlike, certainly; I'm not sure whether I'd call him a Heldentenor at all. But it is a matter of taste.
Oh, yes, I should have said that his tone is unlike any other tenor singing Heldentenor roles. Even with all the subjectivity surrounding the term, I don't think anyone would include Vogt on a list of Heldentenors.

REP
wkasimer
2015-11-20 14:25:15 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
Inclined to agree -- although given what one hears these days... I'd sooner have somebody a bit beefy than, say, Klaus Florian Vogt.<
I'd agree with that for every Wagnerian role except Lohengrin. While I certainly prefer a little more metal in the tone, Vogt is reasonably effective in the role.
Bill
The nearest to perfect I can think of would be Sandor Konya, I think, who conveyed a real touch of the supernatural, with Alberto Remedios, much steelier, coming close -- the first Lohengrin I saw on stage. And I very much liked Domingo, in his Domingo-ish way, and the late Gosta Winbergh, and perhaps also Kollo, live, and Peter Hofmann; and though one can't judge by his brief recordings, Nicolai Gedda, representing a rather different balance, was also impressive. <
Heppner? He was very impressive in the role at the Met, and his first recording is terrific, or would have been if the surroundings had been better....

I'm also fond of Siegfried Jerusalem's recording - he's the only one who sings Lohengrin's entrance in recognizable meter and key.

Bill
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-01 12:59:16 UTC
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On Friday, November 20, 2015 at 2:25:17 PM UTC, wkasimer wrote:
<
Post by wkasimer
Heppner? He was very impressive in the role at the Met, and his first recording is terrific, or would have been if the surroundings had been better....
I didn't hear Heppner at the Met, or indeed anywhere else, but the recording is pretty good, I agree, or rather he is. I just find others a bit more -- individual? characterized? Something like that, especially in the case of Konya and Gedda.

Cheers,

Mike
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-06 10:15:06 UTC
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First release
http://www.mdt.co.uk/wagner-lohengrin-bjoner-varnay-hopf-bohme-hans-knappertsbusch-orfeo-3cds.html
He's trying hard to scale that unwieldy voice down -


A. X. Douglas
2015-12-26 18:53:43 UTC
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Indeed it is perfectly inadmissible. Any schweinhund who was imbecile enough to even suggest staging it that way ought to be subject to a firing squad. As I suggested in Sounds and Fury twice. Marke disrespects them all with an unnamed gesture. Which I would perform on all of you were we gathered in one place physically. And so you would know who is koenig here.

AXD
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-27 18:48:58 UTC
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Indeed it is perfectly inadmissible. Any schweinhund who was imbecile enough to even suggest staging it that way ought to be subject to a firing squad. As I suggested in Sounds and Fury twice. Marke disrespects them all with an unnamed gesture. Which I would perform on all of you were we gathered in one place physically. And so you would know who is koenig here.
AXD
"Hans Sachs war klug und wollte
nichts von Herrn Markes Glück...."

And a happy new year to you too, our little ray of sunshine.

Mike
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-27 18:56:37 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by A. X. Douglas
Indeed it is perfectly inadmissible. Any schweinhund who was imbecile enough to even suggest staging it that way ought to be subject to a firing squad. As I suggested in Sounds and Fury twice. Marke disrespects them all with an unnamed gesture. Which I would perform on all of you were we gathered in one place physically. And so you would know who is koenig here.
AXD
"Hans Sachs war klug und wollte
nichts von Herrn Markes Glück...."
And a happy new year to you too, our little ray of sunshine.
Mike
Or is this Jay sending ACD up, as opposed to ACD?

Cheers,

Mike
Richard Partridge
2015-12-27 20:08:23 UTC
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On 12/27/15 1:56 PM, Mike Scott Rohan, at
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by A. X. Douglas
Indeed it is perfectly inadmissible. Any schweinhund who was imbecile enough
to even suggest staging it that way ought to be subject to a firing squad.
As I suggested in Sounds and Fury twice. Marke disrespects them all with an
unnamed gesture. Which I would perform on all of you were we gathered in one
place physically. And so you would know who is koenig here.
AXD
"Hans Sachs war klug und wollte
nichts von Herrn Markes Glück...."
And a happy new year to you too, our little ray of sunshine.
Mike
Or is this Jay sending ACD up, as opposed to ACD?
Cheers,
Mike
It looks to me like some imposter pretending to be A. C. Douglas. I think
such behavior is to be deprecated. Some of us have complaints about the way
Douglas posts, but two wrongs don't make a right. The civil tone of this
newsgroup will decline very rapidly if we accept this sort of thing.


Dick Partridge
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-27 21:25:13 UTC
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Post by Richard Partridge
On 12/27/15 1:56 PM, Mike Scott Rohan, at
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by A. X. Douglas
Indeed it is perfectly inadmissible. Any schweinhund who was imbecile
enough to even suggest staging it that way ought to be subject to a firing
squad. As I suggested in Sounds and Fury twice. Marke disrespects them
all with an unnamed gesture. Which I would perform on all of you were we
gathered in one place physically. And so you would know who is koenig
here.
AXD
"Hans Sachs war klug und wollte
nichts von Herrn Markes Glück...."
And a happy new year to you too, our little ray of sunshine.
Mike
Or is this Jay sending ACD up, as opposed to ACD?
Cheers,
Mike
It looks to me like some imposter pretending to be A. C. Douglas. I think
such behavior is to be deprecated. Some of us have complaints about the way
Douglas posts, but two wrongs don't make a right. The civil tone of this
newsgroup will decline very rapidly if we accept this sort of thing.
Dick Partridge
I think Dick is right and that this one was an imposter. This was in no
way ACD's style of writing, how much he may be convinced of himself.
So, let us forget this AXD (mind the X in stead of the C!) as soon as
possible! It does remind me of the times in the past when we had all
sorts of wouldbe neo-nazis around.
But, please, let's move on into a new and happy new year for us all!
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-28 01:14:51 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by A. X. Douglas
Indeed it is perfectly inadmissible. Any schweinhund who was imbecile enough to even suggest staging it that way ought to be subject to a firing squad. As I suggested in Sounds and Fury twice. Marke disrespects them all with an unnamed gesture. Which I would perform on all of you were we gathered in one place physically. And so you would know who is koenig here.
AXD
"Hans Sachs war klug und wollte
nichts von Herrn Markes Glück...."
And a happy new year to you too, our little ray of sunshine.
Mike
Or is this Jay sending ACD up, as opposed to ACD?
Cheers,
Mike
No not me
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-12-30 18:22:39 UTC
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Post by Jay Kauffman
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Or is this Jay sending ACD up, as opposed to ACD?
Cheers,
Mike
No not me
Oh good, and sorry if I traduced you even in suspicion -- but you and I are probably the "usual suspects" re ACD, and it weren't me either, guv. I agree, it's a silly thing to do -- apart from anything else, he sends himself up more effectively than anyone else could.

So I'll just echo Herman and wish you all the compliments of the season -- even ACD, in fact.

Cheers,

Mike
Herman van der Woude
2015-12-30 18:42:48 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Or is this Jay sending ACD up, as opposed to ACD?
Cheers,
Mike
No not me
Oh good, and sorry if I traduced you even in suspicion -- but you and I are
probably the "usual suspects" re ACD, and it weren't me either, guv. I agree,
it's a silly thing to do -- apart from anything else, he sends himself up
more effectively than anyone else could.
So I'll just echo Herman and wish you all the compliments of the season --
even ACD, in fact.
Cheers,
Mike
I couldn't agree more ;-)
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Jay Kauffman
2015-12-30 20:23:13 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Or is this Jay sending ACD up, as opposed to ACD?
Cheers,
Mike
No not me
Oh good, and sorry if I traduced you even in suspicion -- but you and I are probably the "usual suspects" re ACD, and it weren't me either, guv. I agree, it's a silly thing to do -- apart from anything else, he sends himself up more effectively than anyone else could.
So I'll just echo Herman and wish you all the compliments of the season -- even ACD, in fact.
Cheers,
Mike
Same to you and Debbie Jay

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