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Wagner and the Wonder of Art

Wagner and the Wonder of Art: An Introduction to Die Meistersinger

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    Wagner and the Wonder of Art
    Book Description:

    InWagner and the Wonder of Art, renowned opera expert M. Owen Lee provides an introduction to the opera and an analysis that will surprise even those veteran operagoers who may not have explored the work?s intricate structure and the emotional drama at its centre.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8511-6
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The First Stollen
    (pp. 3-26)

    WagnerʹsDie Meistersinger von Nürnberg, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, is a hymn to music – Germanyʹs music first, but finally the music of any land, so long as it is music fashioned out of both art and nature, inspiration and hard work, innovating spirit and respect for tradition. It is also a hymn to all of us, from whatever land, who have felt the joy of being human. And finally it is a hymn to that historical figure who, if I may speak of having a role model at age seventy-seven, has long been a role model for me, a...

  5. CHAPTER TWO The Second Stollen
    (pp. 27-38)

    Act II is all elder and linden blossoms,¹ moonlight, and midsummer madness, set in a cobbled street that winds between the slope-roofed houses of old Nuremberg.² It is growing dark, and the apprentices are putting up the shutters all through the city. And thereʹs a little malice in their song: on St Johnʹs eve, the summer solstice, everyone goes a little mad. Especially when it comes to love: the old man woos the young girl, the young boy woos the old maid. It seems as if all the town is aware that young David is courting old Magdalene and, conversely,...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Abgesang
    (pp. 39-62)

    Act III ofDie Meistersinger, the longest act in Wagner, is theAbgesang, or aftersong, in which the serious elements in the comedy, only hinted at in the twoStollenthat preceded it, darken and deepen both text and music.

    The act begins with a prelude that verges on the tragic. A solemn, searching theme sounds in the orchestra. Critics have rightly called it the Renunciation Theme:

    We have heard it before, half-submerged in the orchestra, in Act II, when Sachs sang his cobbling song to prevent Eva and Walther from eloping. But so much was going on in that...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Controversies
    (pp. 63-76)

    We now have to deal with two problems that in the last decade and a half have come increasingly to dominate discussions ofDie Meistersinger, problems that one of the most perceptive writers on Wagner has succinctly summed up as ʹthe streak of cruelty in the humiliation of Hanslich/Beckmesser, which may be there, and a bullying German imperialism in Sachsʹs final address, which is certainly not.ʹ¹

    Though Wagnerʹs opera conjures up a storybook Nuremberg – picturesque, idyllic, an emblem of the best of old German art and life – no one my age can completely dissociate it from the Nuremberg...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Wagner and the Wonder of Art
    (pp. 77-86)

    We begin this new broadcast season still feeling the loss of, and proudly remembering the selfless courage of, many people in this city and in this country. It may seem inappropriate to be remembering them with a comedy. ButDie Meistersingeris no ordinary comedy. It can help us, as all great art can. For it ponders the madness that sometimes affects human lives, even as it celebrates the mutual interdependence of our lives and, above all, the importance of art in our civilizations.

    One of the wonders ofDie Meistersingeris that it is a work of art that...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Recordings and DVDs
    (pp. 87-98)

    Given the length and complexity ofDie Meistersinger, it should come as no surprise that, though some of the recordings made of it are very fine indeed, no one of them does the work complete justice. (There is some music, as Artur Schnabel has reminded us, that is greater than it can be performed.) Out of the thirty-odd recordings that pass in and out of availability, I have selected ten that I have found, for various reasons, outstanding. At the time of printing, all of them are available on the labels indicated, though some may have to be specially ordered,...

    (pp. 99-108)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 109-126)
    (pp. 127-130)
    (pp. 131-134)