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Bayreuth's new Meistersinger
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Bert Coules
2017-07-28 21:08:13 UTC
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I can't claim to be overly enthusiastic about this (showing tonight on the
German TV channel 3Sat) at least not on the strength of most of Act 2, which
is all I've so far caught. The combination of wildly OTT acting (presumably
deliberately so), a lack of realism in both action and setting, and the
production's Big Idea (Hey, let's set it at the Nuremberg Trials!) are not
exactly speaking to me.

But, according to The Guardian, this is "a reminder that Bayreuth can still
score palpable dramatic hits too" so what do I know?

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jul/27/die-meistersinger-von-nurnberg-bayreuth-wagner-antisemitism
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-29 00:39:52 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
I can't claim to be overly enthusiastic about this (showing tonight on the
German TV channel 3Sat) at least not on the strength of most of Act 2, which
is all I've so far caught. The combination of wildly OTT acting (presumably
deliberately so), a lack of realism in both action and setting, and the
production's Big Idea (Hey, let's set it at the Nuremberg Trials!) are not
exactly speaking to me.
But, according to The Guardian, this is "a reminder that Bayreuth can still
score palpable dramatic hits too" so what do I know?
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jul/27/die-meistersinger-von-nurnberg-bayreuth-wagner-antisemitism
Should be an education for me to see since I do not see any anti-semitism in this work at all
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-29 23:08:20 UTC
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Post by m***@gmail.com
Should be an education for me to see since I do not see any anti-semitism in this work at all
Haven't read it myself yet, but it may be the ignorant old canard about Beckmesser, which is fortunately being discredited these days.

Cheers,

Mike
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-29 23:50:09 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by m***@gmail.com
Should be an education for me to see since I do not see any anti-semitism in this work at all
Haven't read it myself yet, but it may be the ignorant old canard about Beckmesser, which is fortunately being discredited these days.
Cheers,
Mike
Well, I found a moment to look at it, and yes, it is. And I should have remembered it was that twerp Barry Kosky, whom I've come to loathe, and not just as a Wagner producer. But that's a good start. Here for your delectation is his Hanover Siegfried production:



Which is no doubt what got him the Bayreuth job.

His method seems to be to find the lowest common denominator of public perception, the more sensational and the less true or valid the better, and illustrate it. And Martin Kettle seems to be just as bad, in lauding it. But what can one do, except reflect that those who rise by fashion will also fall with it?

Mike
REP
2017-07-30 01:40:35 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by m***@gmail.com
Should be an education for me to see since I do not see any anti-semitism in this work at all
Haven't read it myself yet, but it may be the ignorant old canard about Beckmesser, which is fortunately being discredited these days.
Cheers,
Mike
http://youtu.be/flpnjTG4OMc
Who is paying to watch this scheisse? At this point, it's hard to believe there are any audiences left.

REP
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-31 12:18:49 UTC
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Post by REP
Who is paying to watch this scheisse? At this point, it's hard to believe there are any audiences left.
REP
It's done with public money and no audience accountability. Naturally you still get some takers, some because it's their only chance to hear it live, some because they've been brainwashed into thinking this is how it should be, but mostly the kind of people who don't care about opera as drama anyhow, and just go for the show. But, as the English National Opera experience has shown, sooner or later that audience withers and drifts away. And then opera itself is supposed to be in decline...

Cheers,

Mike
Hyperborean
2017-07-30 06:16:28 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by m***@gmail.com
Should be an education for me to see since I do not see any anti-semitism in this work at all
Haven't read it myself yet, but it may be the ignorant old canard about Beckmesser, which is fortunately being discredited these days.
Cheers,
Mike
http://youtu.be/flpnjTG4OMc
Which is no doubt what got him the Bayreuth job.
His method seems to be to find the lowest common denominator of public perception, the more sensational and the less true or valid the better, and illustrate it. And Martin Kettle seems to be just as bad, in lauding it. But what can one do, except reflect that those who rise by fashion will also fall with it?
Mike
Kettle is as clueless about Wagner as he is about politics.
Bert Coules
2017-08-01 07:58:12 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
http://youtu.be/flpnjTG4OMc
My word. I like to think I'm more tolerant than many towards modern
productions but, well...

Bert
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-30 04:42:27 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by m***@gmail.com
Should be an education for me to see since I do not see any anti-semitism in this work at all
Haven't read it myself yet, but it may be the ignorant old canard about Beckmesser, which is fortunately being discredited these days.
Cheers,
Mike
In his public statements about the work he said he accepted the supposed anti-Semitism as a given and worked from there and yes Beckmesser is turned into a Jewish caricature right out of the Volkischer Beobachter at the end of Act Two.
Hyperborean
2017-08-01 07:47:30 UTC
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I always thought there was more potential, if you are looking for anti-semitism in Wagners operas, in Parsifal rather than Meistesinger. Kundry, for instance, was Jewish, I think,in at least one of her incarnations.
m***@gmail.com
2017-08-01 10:25:32 UTC
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Post by Hyperborean
I always thought there was more potential, if you are looking for anti-semitism in Wagners operas, in Parsifal rather than Meistesinger. Kundry, for instance, was Jewish, I think,in at least one of her incarnations.
Why would you "look for" anti-Semitism in the Wagner operas. If you want to find anti-Semitism in any art form, you will.
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-08-02 12:10:18 UTC
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Post by m***@gmail.com
Why would you "look for" anti-Semitism in the Wagner operas. If you want to find anti-Semitism in any art form, you will.
That's true. But given the sheer verbal vitriol Wagner unleashed against Jews, it's not surprising that people expect to find it in his operas too. And some, of course, some are looking for confirmation of their received impressions, the Wagner=as proto-Nazi myth. It's significant that they have to struggle so hard to find anything, however unconvincing -- and often expose their own preconceptions, to put it politely, in doing so, as for example asserting "Mime must be meant to be Jewish because he's small, grasping and malicious". Er...really? So that's recognisable, is it?

Or Barry Millington's famous "between-the-lines" deduction (actually I think, borrowed from Theodor Adorno)that concealed within Beckmesser's song is an old folksong about a Jew in a thornbush. The facts that a) Wagner apparently concealed this so cunningly that audiences both in his own time and over nearly two centuries have totally failed to detect it b) such "coding" is entirely alien to Wagner, who was not afraid to shout his prejudices from the rooftops c) that such "deductions" have turned out to be totally bogus in other literary areas, such as Shakespeare, and d0 that you could just as well "detect" the presence of "Baa baa black sheep" or something equally foursquare in that plonking little tune, don't seem to deter him and his admirers. But even if it were true, if that's the best they can find -- a sort of homeopathic bigotry -- then the problem is virtually nonexistent too.

But Parsifal is a special case. I do think Kundry represents Wagner trying to settle and reconcile his anti-semitism with his more liberal and humane instincts, without of course admitting he might simply be wrong. Like some modern anti-hispanic/black/arab/white/(fill in race here) loudmouth eventually admitting that they're not exactly evil, it's not their fault exactly, and so on. Not very admirable, but much better than outright race hatred.

Cheers,

Mike
REP
2017-08-07 22:41:46 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by m***@gmail.com
Why would you "look for" anti-Semitism in the Wagner operas. If you want to find anti-Semitism in any art form, you will.
That's true. But given the sheer verbal vitriol Wagner unleashed against Jews, it's not surprising that people expect to find it in his operas too. And some, of course, some are looking for confirmation of their received impressions, the Wagner=as proto-Nazi myth. It's significant that they have to struggle so hard to find anything, however unconvincing -- and often expose their own preconceptions, to put it politely, in doing so, as for example asserting "Mime must be meant to be Jewish because he's small, grasping and malicious". Er...really? So that's recognisable, is it?
As I've said before:

- Jewish caricatures have negative characteristics.
- Villains have negative characteristics.

Therefore, any Wagner villain will look like a Jewish caricature to those who want to see it that way. There is literally nothing Wagner could have done to prevent these accusations. He could have written Faust, La Boheme, and Otello and people would still say that Mephistopheles/Benoit/Jago were Jewish caricatures.

In short, people who are obsessed with anti-semitism (as Wagner's critics are) will see it everywhere, even where it doesn't exist

REP
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-08-08 11:40:09 UTC
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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
REP
Very good points. Of course they're right in that Wagner was pretty obsessed with anti-semitism himself. The difference -- one they generally refuse to see -- is that it didn't dominate his life and work to the extent they assert it did, and nor is it the brutish, casual antisemitism which surrounded him in Germany, and was to manifest itself so horribly half a century after his death. His anti-semitic screeds are very minor, and mostly, it seems, dashed off in fits of irritation, like letters to the papers. Beyond those there are only grumbling remarks faithfully preserved by admirers, Cosima especially. It doesn't exactly amount to a credo. That's entirely consistent with its lack of presence in the works he cared about most, and in which his most humane and high-minded side is clearest. Their simple-minded bigot wouldn't be capable of creating such things, for the same reasons that no real art ever emerged from Nazi Germany.

Cheers,

Mike
b***@earthlink.net
2017-08-10 15:03:53 UTC
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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
REP
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."
b***@earthlink.net
2017-08-10 15:06:54 UTC
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On Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 11:03:54 AM UTC-4, ***@earthlink.net wrote:
In SIEGFRIED, Wagner distills racial purity down to its logical conclusion - incest - yet no one seems to be as offended by THAT.
I hit "post" too soon. Obviously, the incest occurs and is discussed at length in DIE WALKURE. The result of that union comes to the fore in SIEGFRIED.
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-08-02 11:42:52 UTC
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Post by Hyperborean
I always thought there was more potential, if you are looking for anti-semitism in Wagners operas, in Parsifal rather than Meistesinger. Kundry, for instance, was Jewish, I think,in at least one of her incarnations.
"Herodias warst du, und was noch..." Yes indeed. I think the Jewish reference is undeniable. Her story is precisely that of the Wandering Jew legend. Although actually Herodias was one of the Jewish princely class, daughter of one Aristobolus, and they were as much Graeco-Roman as Jewish. Wonder if Wagner knew that? Also, Herodias was already quite an old woman at the time of Jesus's death, and probably not in much of a position to laugh at him on his way to execution. So it's possible that Klingsor isn't being literal, just insulting, and Kundry was just some anonymous woman in the street. But meant to be Jewish, certainly.

However, by Wagner's standards she's a sympathetic portrayal, conflicted, knocking herself out to do good, certainly more sinned against than sinning. I've never seen anyone point out that Gurnemanz, the figure of wisdom, stops the squires bullying her, in very much the manner your average young German oaf might persecute a Jew, with the comment "Schuf' sie euch schaden je?" -- "What harm has she ever done you?" Was that Wagner's comment on such persecution? It squares with his general attitudes, at least in later life. All right, that's perhaps special pleading, but the incident is there and therefore has some significance.

Cheers,

Mike
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