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Wagner's Meistersinger: Performance, History, Representation

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Wagner's Meistersinger: Performance, History, Representation.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Nicholas Vazsonyi(Editor)

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Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg has been one of the most performed operas ever since its premiere in 1868. It was adopted as Germany's national opera ("Nationaloper"), not least because of its historical coincidence with the unification of Germany under Bismarck in 1871. The first section of this volume, "Performing Meistersinger," contains three commissioned articles from internationally respected artists - a conductor (Peter Schneider), a stage director (Harry Kupfer) and a singer (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau), all experienced in the performance of this unusually demanding 5-hour work. The second section, "Meistersinger and History," examines both the representation of German history in the opera and the way the opera has functioned in history through political appropriation and staging practice. The third section, "Representations," is the most eclectic, exploring in the first place the problematic question of genre from the perspective of a theatrical historian. The chronic issue of Wagner's chief opponent, Eduard Hanslick, and his musical and dramatic representation in the opera as Beckmesser, is then addressed, as are gender issues, and Wagner's own utterances concerning the opera.Contributors: Nicholas Vazsonyi, Peter Schneider, Harry Kupfer, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hans Rudolf Vaget, Lutz Koepnick, David B. Dennis, Klaus Van Den Berg, Thomas S. Grey, Lydia Goehr, Eva Rieger, Peter Höyng.Nicholas Vazsonyi is associate professor of German and comparative literature, University of South Carolina.

Intellectually speaking, this is a delicious tome . . . an indispensable book. Vazsonyi, Rochester University Press, and the individual essayists are to be roundly congratulated on an outstanding contribution to Wagnerian scholarship. WAGNER NOTES, Wagner Society of NYThis superb volume of essays . . . (is) the best ever published on 'Die Meistersinger' . . . a book that demands to be read by anyone interested in the politics of opera. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE (Barry Millington)A wonderfully wide-reaching introduction to the extensive field of "Meistersinger" scholarship. CHOICENicholas Vazsonyi has organized a collection of new writings whose eleven authors keep the reader up to date with this abundant literature. More than that, the diverse contributors he has chosen complement one another . . . what results is a book that fulfills its underlying interdisciplinary aim. For readers seriously interested in Wagner it will be both instructive and absorbing. THE OPERANicholas Vazsonyi has assembled a collection of essays that deal with aspects of the opera not necessarily addressed elsewhere, affirming the continuing relevance of the work. This book offers a collection of interdisciplinary studies that should supplement some of the more traditional literature on this seminal work by Wagner. MONATSHEFTE, 2006

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Book details

  • PDF | 432 pages
  • Nicholas Vazsonyi(Editor)
  • University of Rochester Press; New Ed edition (1 Sept. 2004)
  • English
  • 2
  • Music, Stage & Screen

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Review Text

  • By Doug Urquhart on 8 February 2009

    For a Wagnerite who had to miss Bayreuth this season, this was an entertaining set of essays, to read on the beach while the grandchildren built Valhalla in the sand. To continue the seaside metaphor, I think this book is best looked-at like one of those fascinating rock-pools - full of diverse creatures, some interesting, some mundane, some frankly grotesque, and a few surprises.There are a "critic's dozen" essays (like a "baker's dozen" but slightly less than expected, rather than more). The book is organized into three sections - Performing, History and Representation.The first section, including essays by Peter Schneider, Harry Kupfer, Fischer-Dieskau and Lydia Goehr, gives fascinating insights into the challenges of performing Wagner: Schneider's description of practicalities (such as reigning-in the Meisters, to avoid drowning out Walter at the end of Act 1), Kupfer's very clear understanding of the characters, and the dynamics linking them, and then back to practicalities, where Fischer-Dieskau describes the physical difficulties presented by the role of Sachs.The History section is much more of a mixed bag.The first essay is rather, er, academic in nature. If you find it amusing to read essays plagued by three-fold structure (here it comes, here it is, there it goes) , rampant neologisms, malicious use of nouns as verbs, strangely irrelevant illustrations and gratuitous use of the word 'paradigm', then you'll have a field day. If you can suppress the desire to strangle the author, so much the better.The second essay in this section is the outcome of an in-depth study of how Nazi propaganda used Wagner's works; the author had to plough through several hundred extremely unsavoury publications. The result may be surprising (and, I suspect, disappointing) to some - lashings of nationalism but not a trace of anti-semitism.The final essay in the section, presented as a modern interview with der Meister, is only partially successful. The old chap comes across as far too Politically Correct in my book.Three of the four essays in the final section resurrect the relatively modern 'controversy' that Wagner's works are steeped in antisemitism. The general impression from this section was that many Wagner experts follow the tried and trusted rule, as followed by drug squads all over the world : always bring your own evidence, in case you can't find any at the scene of the crime.The final essay in the book, by Eva Rieger, was a refreshing look at Meistersinger from a feminist point of view. I was particularly amused by the idea that Sachs renounced his claim on Eva as soon as he realized that she had chosen another man (much less damaging to the male ego). Right on target, Fraulein Rieger.Let's be very clear. This isn't Dieter Borchmeyer, but it's an entertaining read. Nicholas Vazonyi is an erudite and entertaining speaker, a splendid editor and an excellent translator, as the book shows. (Any thoughts about translating some of Wagner's essays, Herr Vazonyi? It's about time someone replaced those awful Ellis things.)Recommended Summer reading for Wagnerites. See you at Liebesverbot, in August. (review written in 2008)

  • By JarlathJennings on 31 December 2013

    Nicholas Varsony tries to take a different look at Wagner . ( see his book on Wagner and Branding). Worth a look

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