Post by REP
In short, people who are obsessed with anti-semitism (as Wagner's critics are) will see it everywhere, even where it doesn't exist
I believe that Wagner's critics find it easy to obsess over ant-Semitism in MEISTERSINGER and SIEGFRIED largely due to the overt nationalism (flag-waving) within those works. In MEISTERSINGER, we have Sach's "heil'ge deutsche Kunst," which was enough to draw audible gasps from the Covent Garden audience in 2002. In SIEGFRIED, Wagner distills racial purity down to its logical conclusion - incest - yet no one seems to be as offended by THAT.
Of course, Wagner wrote during the initial unification of Germany, when overt nationalism was the order of the day for many. At the same time, Verdi was writing his own patriotic choruses to support the unification of *his* country. And again, no one winces during a modern-day rendition of "Va, pensiero" and "Patria oppressa."
In short, I understand directors exploring the dangers of the mob mentality in LOHENGRIN, but find disparaging remarks against Wagner's work because of unhealthy nationalism and supposed ant-Semitism to be questionable at best.
My primary issue with seeking/underlining anti-Semitism in Mime and Beckmesser is that the results don't make a lot of dramatic sense. No Jewish person would have reached Beckmesser's rank and position in 16th century Nuremburg. And to make Mime Jewish, you have to make Alberich Jewish, which I find to be even more of a dramatic stretch. (fwiw, my first Ring experience was the 1990s TV broadcast of the Schenk Ring. My initial reaction was that Zednik's Mime was playing gay/molester, not Jewish. I have no idea if that was anyone's intention or if that was where my mind was at the time.)
Regarding the new MEISTERSINGER, I would have an easier time buying Kosky's concept if it were Wagner's descendants who were on trial, not Wagner himself. He was long dead before Hitler gravitated towards his music. To attempt to de-legitimize Wagner because of Hitler is akin to hating the Beatles because Charlie Manson was fond of "Helter Skelter."