Being Wagner

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(by Simon Callow) (2017) Wagner was the Richard Nixon of Art: Revered, and reviled. Hugely accomplished and hugely flawed. Shining Knight and Scaly Dragon. So many words have been written by him, about him, for him and against him that when our literary friend Janelle sent us this book as a gift, it evoked a wan sigh – another Wagner book by an enthusiastic amateur, you might say!  Quelle Horreur you might say! Well, you all ought to be ashamed of yourselves!  This is a lovely book, full of sound insight and as easy to slip between its sheets as…

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Parsifal Swans in to Sydney

August 15, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, RELIGION, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |
"Give me an hour, and you'll forget all about that silly mug..." (Temptation of Percival by Arthur Hacker, 1894)

"Give me an hour, and you'll forget all about that silly mug..." (Temptation of Percival by Arthur Hacker, 1894)

(Concert version, Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, 14 August 2017) We landed in Sydney secure in the knowledge that Jonas Kaufmann was already here and in fine form.  Out initial impressions of Sydney town c. 2017 were as favourable as always, except for the subsequent days when “strategic, environmental burn-offs” doused all in plumes of thick blue smoke, smoke much less tasty than that found second-hand in a cigar bar. In any case: Parsifal. This, Wagner’s “work of farewell to the world” has managed to become P’s favourite Wagner Opera, despite Tristan, despite Meistersinger, yes, even despite the Ring. Its music is so…

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Playing With Fire – Staging “The Ring”

July 12, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, HISTORY, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |
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[This article originally appeared in the Newsletter of the Richard Wagner Society of SA, # 282, July 2017] “When Art Meets Politics.” This was the essence of Dr. Peter Bassett’s text in a thoroughly entertaining and salutary talk to the Richard Wagner Society of South Australia on 18 June, entitled ‘Playing with Fire – the pursuit of a Wagner performance tradition in Adelaide 1995 – 2005’. President Geoffrey Siedel introduced Dr Bassett, who was uniquely placed to cover this topic, having completed a PhD on it, as well as being closely involved with the productions that comprised Adelaide’s Wagner Decade…

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Parsifal

May 29, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |
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At the Met (2013) (DVD 2014) “Laughter, cries of fury and howls of anguish rang out intertwined and tangled, blood flowed everywhere, nails dug bloodily into fat flesh. With a feeling of sorrow and depression Klingsor awoke for a few minutes. His eyes, wide open, stared at the bright gap in the wall. The faces of the embattled women still lingered, and he recognized and named many of them…in a hoarse voice, still caught up in the dream, he said: “Children, stop it! You’re lying you know, you’re deceiving me, you know; it’s not each other you should be tearing…

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BDS on Wagner

May 16, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, MUSIC, POLITICS, Ulalume, WAGNER |
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Forget the picket at Max Brenner’s, the Jewish chocolatiers!  There’s a Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement against the playing of Wagner‘s works in Israel.  We learn from an interesting piece in ‘The Australian’ of 13 May 2017, by Vic Alhadeff, the chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, that there is a longstanding unofficial ban, despite recent attempts to overcome it by such luminaries as Daniel Barenboim. Mr Alhadeff refers, as part of his case, to the repulsive pamphlet, “Jewry in Music” which is certainly strident and virulent, but might more properly be seen as a reflection of Wagner’s…

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