The psychological dimension of Richard Wagner's operas has long been associated with the ideas of Arthur Schopenhauer, yet Wagner had begun absorbing elements of contemporary psychological thought into his stage works as early as the 1830s, twenty years before he engaged with the philosopher's writings. As Katherine Syer demonstrates, the composer incorporated imagery and metaphors with the potential to infuse his psychologically charged dramas with latent political meaning. His operatic visions convey a sense of urgency intimately bound up with the era's crises and instabilities. In Wagner's Visions, Syer offers a detailed examination of Die Feen, Wagner's least known complete opera, as well as new analytical insights into Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser/, Lohengrin, and the four Ring dramas. Her study of the ways Wagner probed the inner experiences of his protagonists explores the impact of neglected yet crucial artistic influences. These include the fables of the eighteenth-century Venetian playwright Carlo Gozzi, the Iphigenia operas of Christoph Willibald Gluck, and the legacy of the martyr Theodor Körner. During the Napoleonic Wars, which raged as Wagner was born, Körner's poetry became the lingua franca of the revolutionary movement to liberate and unify Germany. A Humboldt Fellowship recipient, Syer is Assistant Professor of Musicology and Theatre Department Faculty Affiliate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Subjects: Music, Political Science