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Thread: Dutchman, Tannhauser, Lohengrin..............

  1. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountmccabe View Post
    1. Der fliegende Holländer
    2. Lohengrin
    3. Tannhäuser

    I rank Holländer ahead of Siegfried and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Currently I might rank Tannhäuser below Rienzi, but I need to give it another chance.
    1. Tannhäuser - the 2nd act is a little tedious, but the themes are just beautiful
    2. Der fliegende Holländer - Perhaps Wagner's most taut opera, but also less distinctly him
    3. Lohengrin - I probably just need to spend more time with it

    My rankings have changed much in three years. True, I've seen Holländer twice since those ranks, but I've also seen my first two Tannhäuser live performances (and both more recently than my last Holländer), and I'm really entranced by the music.

    I've still never seen Lohengrin live, alas. Maybe next year.

    And Siegfried is now above them all, with Meistersinger at the bottom.
    Last edited by mountmccabe; Aug-10-2019 at 00:37.

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    Senior Member Dr. Shatterhand's Avatar
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    Lohengrin: Alpha. My favourite Wagner. Like a medieval tapestry come to life. It's his closest to "opera" (rather than music drama), and has an amazing number of great arias, duets, choruses... Almost every line of recitative has its own melody. Wagner has fused French grand opera with early Romantic German opera (Meyerbeer with Marschner, if you will) to form his own language. Act I is musically inspired throughout, with detachable numbers arising seamlessly from the text (again, as in grand opera). Act III does bog down in the bedroom scene (a "modern" reworking of Gluck's Alceste), but the public scenes - particularly the sublime Grail Narration - are impressive. When I went through my "WAGNER IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" stage (at 23), I used to sit in the dark, and listen to Jess Thomas singing "In fernem Land" in the kind of ecstatic fixation reserved for the end of Mahler II.

    Flying Dutchman: Alpha. Probably Wagner's most accessible opera. It has a lot of energy and brio, and great tunes - off the top of my head, the overture, the double chorus "Steuermann lass der Wacht", the storm music, the spinning chorus... Fast-paced, too.

    Tannhauser: Beta. Sounds a lot like Halévy, whom Wagner admired! (He devoted 20 pages to La reine de Chypre, which he wrote the piano score for, pointing to it as an example for German opera composers to follow.) It should have been a hit in Paris, if he hadn't omitted the obligatory middle-act ballet. (Ballet was an essential part of 18th and 19th century opera; we hear of interpolated operas in Mozart's Mitridate di Ponto, in Rossini, in Verdi. Audiences wanted a long musical evening: watch an act or so of opera, and then a ballet for light relief.) He's taken images from Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable - the tournament for the princess's hand, the Waverley hero wavering between supernatural evil and religious good, the saintly character kneeling at the cross, the orgiastic ballets - and revised them to create his own personal vision. Not entirely successful; many of the arias/numbers are excellent (it's probably got his highest number of hit pieces), but the story itself isn't terribly interesting. The Met production, though, is beautiful.
    Last edited by Dr. Shatterhand; Aug-10-2019 at 12:07.

  4. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Shatterhand View Post
    Lohengrin... Almost every line of recitative has its own melody.
    I've never thought of it like that before, but you're quite right. The entire opening scene of Act II is virtually an extended duet for Ortrud and Telramund.

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