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Thread: Richard Wagner

  1. #16
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clouds Weep Snowflakes View Post
    Anyone into his operas? I think he was very talented, and the fact he was quite an anti-Semite and inspiration to Hitler and his operas are not conducted publicly in Israel because of that (though thankfully selling them for private use is perfectly legal) doesn't diminish the talent he had; Theodor Herzl himself admired Wagner's operas!
    I own these on CDs:

    Parsifal
    Tristan and Isolde
    The Flying Dutchman

    What else should I get?

    Now for another question; do you enjoy listening to music without speaking the language? I enjoy music in Latin and German (^Wagner) without speaking them (though I wished I would, I actually wanted to learn German but my family didn't want me to), though people commonly say my English is very good.
    What Wagner as animal lover has to do with this.

    I understand you live in Israel? For Wagner's music, you can maybe prevent some discussion if you get the Wagner set as conducted by your countryman:

    81QBkrDa7hL._SL1500_ (1).jpg

    The horrendous links to nationalism and antisemitism are rightfully connected to Wagner and also partly to his music. In his defense, it was Wagner's family (especially his wife Cosima and his daughter-in-law Winifred) that connected the dots and turned Wagner's heritage into a cultural centre for Nazi's and consequently his music into the soundtrack for the holocaust. Apart from all of this, Wagner was a turning point in musical history. You hear his musical influence in works of Bruckner, Mahler and Hugo Wolf, who I can all highly recommend for future exploration.

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  3. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    In his defense, it was Wagner's family (especially his wife Cosima and his daughter-in-law Winifred) that connected the dots and turned Wagner's heritage into a cultural centre for Nazis.
    From what I've read, I get the impression that Cosima was even more antisemitic than her husband.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clouds Weep Snowflakes View Post
    Now for another question; do you enjoy listening to music without speaking the language?
    Yes. I don't speak Russian or Czech, but that hasn't stopped me loving the fine operas of Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Janáček.
    I enjoy music in Latin and German without speaking them (though I wished I would, I actually wanted to learn German but my family didn't want me to)
    I studied Latin and French at school, but I gained an understanding of Italian from listening to opera (although I don't really speak Italian). I became pretty fluent in German just by listening to, and singing, Wagner and Schubert (my German friends find it hard to believe that I haven't had formal tuition in the language, but it's quite true). I was chatting to some local people in German during an interval at Bayreuth and they thought I was Dutch; as I'm British, I took that as a great compliment to my spoken German!

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  6. #19
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    I would watch all the operas (from the flying dutchman on) with subtitles first. I think despite all the greatness, it's a tough repertoire to dive into, not made for beginners.

    On video, this was my playlist

    Hollander: W. Nelsson, Bayreuther Festspiele
    Tannhäuser: C. Davis, Bayreuther Festspiele
    Lohengrin: C. Abbado, Wiener Staatsoper
    Tristan und Isolde: D. Barenboim, Bayreuther Festspiele (I go for the Jean Pierre Ponelle production)
    Meistersinger: J. Levine, Metropolitan Opera (Mind Ben Heppner who doesn't look the part for many members here)
    Ring des Nibelungen: P. Boulez, Bayreuther Festspiele
    Parsifal: H. Stein, Bayreuther Festspiele (Staging); A. Pappano, Covent Garden (Acting) (really well sung by both casts)

    I don't speak German either but it took long time to start appreciating the 10 operas and their plots. Seeing that you just knew that a Ring is a cycle of 4 operas, I welcome you to this world and beg you for patience with Wagner.

  7. #20
    Member JoeSaunders's Avatar
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    WOOHOO I ACTUALLY FOUND SOME PICTURES OF HIS DOGS!!!!!

    This is Russ:


    This is Marke:


    This is Fasolt:


    This is Fafner:


    (Those four pics are apparently scan-ins from Hans von Wolzogen's Richard Wagner und die Tierwelt, third edition)

    Oh, and this is Pohl:

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  9. #21
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    ^^^

    Marke is also buried at Bayreuth, next to Wagner's - and Russ's - grave. I've been there many times, and I've noticed that people occasionally leave chews and dog-biscuits on the dogs' graves instead of flowers, which is a nice touch

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  11. #22
    Senior Member WildThing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    I would watch all the operas (from the flying dutchman on) with subtitles first. I think despite all the greatness, it's a tough repertoire to dive into, not made for beginners.

    On video, this was my playlist

    Hollander: W. Nelsson, Bayreuther Festspiele
    Tannhäuser: C. Davis, Bayreuther Festspiele
    Lohengrin: C. Abbado, Wiener Staatsoper
    Tristan und Isolde: D. Barenboim, Bayreuther Festspiele (I go for the Jean Pierre Ponelle production)
    Meistersinger: J. Levine, Metropolitan Opera (Mind Ben Heppner who doesn't look the part for many members here)
    Ring des Nibelungen: P. Boulez, Bayreuther Festspiele
    Parsifal: H. Stein, Bayreuther Festspiele (Staging); A. Pappano, Covent Garden (Acting) (really well sung by both casts)

    I don't speak German either but it took long time to start appreciating the 10 operas and their plots. Seeing that you just knew that a Ring is a cycle of 4 operas, I welcome you to this world and beg you for patience with Wagner.
    It really just depends on the individual. You say this repetoire wasn't made for the beginner, yet for myself coming from a background of mostly pop music and with a strong interest in cinema and theatrical arts, I took to Wagner immediately and his music is largely what inspired me to explore classical music in general. Personally I found it much more difficult to learn to appreciate large scale, abstract, instrumental musical forms without lyrics.

    My only concern about telling someone new to Wagner to become acquainted to him through video is the difficulty in finding performances that are exceptional musically as well as compelling dramatically and which stay true to Wagner's conception. I'm afraid many productions available on video would be downright confusing for someone who had little idea what the original plot was; and even when they are actually coherent with the music and text, the acting can often be quite stiff and dull, as in the 80s Levine Met Ring. The good thing about the great audio recordings of the works is they come with a synopsis and allow you to follow along with the libretto and picture the action in your mind's eye.
    Last edited by WildThing; Mar-12-2019 at 12:27.

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  13. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    I'm afraid many productions available on video would be downright confusing for someone who had little idea what the original plot was; and even when they are actually coherent with the music and text, the acting can often be quite stiff and dull, as in the 80s Levine Met Ring. The good thing about the great audio recordings of the works is they come with a synopsis and allow you to follow along with the libretto and picture the action in your mind's eye.
    I agree totally. Other good things about audio recordings is that they're easy to listen to on the move (e.g. on your phone/iPod), and are more conducive to repeated exposure than videos, which in turn makes it easier to get familiar with the music. For example, I've got three Ring Cycles on DVD (Boulez, Barenboim and Schønwandt) and, whilst I really enjoyed all three, I've only watched them a handful of times in total. In contrast, I must have listened to the Solti, Karajan and Böhm Rings more than a hundred times over the years, and there are many other Rings I have on audio (e.g. Furtwängler, Goodall, Keilberth) which I've listened to on multiple occasions.

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  15. #24
    Member sharkeysnight's Avatar
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    Those are some darn cute dogs. I've only seen Meistersinger and the first two parts of the Ring cycle, so I have some catching up to do, but Meistersinger is one of my favorite operas. Looking forward to next year's Dutchman here in Toronto!

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    Senior Member Barelytenor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clouds Weep Snowflakes View Post
    A ring? What do you mean by that?
    Wow. We gonna have to do some serious trainin' here.

    https://www.wagnerheim.com/

    On the plus side, I am un petit peu jaloux of someone who has no idea of the delights in store ...

    Kind regards,

    George

  17. #26
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    It really just depends on the individual. You say this repetoire wasn't made for the beginner, yet for myself coming from a background of mostly pop music and with a strong interest in cinema and theatrical arts, I took to Wagner immediately and his music is largely what inspired me to explore classical music in general. Personally I found it much more difficult to learn to appreciate large scale, abstract, instrumental musical forms without lyrics.

    My only concern about telling someone new to Wagner to become acquainted to him through video is the difficulty in finding performances that are exceptional musically as well as compelling dramatically and which stay true to Wagner's conception. I'm afraid many productions available on video would be downright confusing for someone who had little idea what the original plot was; and even when they are actually coherent with the music and text, the acting can often be quite stiff and dull, as in the 80s Levine Met Ring. The good thing about the great audio recordings of the works is they come with a synopsis and allow you to follow along with the libretto and picture the action in your mind's eye.
    Most people of a certain age discovered Wagner before videos were available, and I too would recommend beginning with the best (mainly older) audio recordings, following along with the libretto, and letting the music conjure the mise en scene, which no music does as vividly as Wagner's. As with reading great literature, you will form your own mental images of what the operas are like. The down side to this is that you may never be satisfied with any production you'll subsequently see on video or in the opera house. It's virtually impossible to do visual justice to these imaginative creations, but the music pretty well says it all on its own.

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  19. #27
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reichstag aus LICHT View Post
    From what I've read, I get the impression that Cosima was even more antisemitic than her husband.
    From all accounts an absolutely poisonous woman - even more so than her husband. Unfortunately, however, it was Wagner's own views that gave the seed bed to turn his works into a cultural heritage for the Nazis. Without Wagner's own input the Nazis would have had nothing to play with.
    Last edited by DavidA; Mar-12-2019 at 18:34.

  20. #28
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    As I have said before, Wagner tends to do me on length but there are patches that are really fine music. If only he'd had some competition from a librettist as Verdi did things might have been better. Of course, to Wagner buffs everything is incomparable and he could do no wrong, but to those of us less convinced he might have done better if he'd have realised the old maxim 'less is more'.
    Having said that, a good place to start with Wagner is with excerpts from The Ring or the love duet in Tristan. I was playing the duet in the Kleiber version and was amazed at the lightness Kleiber gets into the music - quite astonishing. And Price is a gloriously sung Isolde.

  21. #29
    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Most people of a certain age discovered Wagner before videos were available, and I too would recommend beginning with the best (mainly older) audio recordings, following along with the libretto, and letting the music conjure the mise en scene, which no music does as vividly as Wagner's.
    I would also recommend beginning with an audio recording. And based on my own youthful experience, I would suggest following along, not with the libretto, but with a piano-vocal score (one which includes both original and translated text). If you read music even a little bit, a reduced score can give you a visual counterpart to what you're hearing and a firmer initial grasp of Wagner's compositions. Hopefully your local library has such resources available.
    Alan

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  23. #30
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amfortas View Post
    I would also recommend beginning with an audio recording. And based on my own youthful experience, I would suggest following along, not with the libretto, but with a piano-vocal score (one which includes both original and translated text). If you read music even a little bit, a reduced score can give you a visual counterpart to what you're hearing and a firmer initial grasp of Wagner's compositions. Hopefully your local library has such resources available.
    I was able to do this as well. I took the scores out of my local city library and played through them at the piano - not very well, but well enough to savor their delights and learn some valuable things about music. It was wonderful to be able to pause and repeat passages whenever I wanted to. Fifty years later I still keep the score to Parsifal on my piano (as Puccini did, by the way, for inspiration) and open it whenever I'm in the mood for some harmonic enchantment.

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