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Tell me what it takes to tolerate Wagnerian opera, please.

I love opera - from Monteverdi through Purcell and Handel and the baroque to Mozart and the classical, into Gluck and then through the German, French and Italian traditions. I love the Romantics. I'm catholic in my tastes and enjoy the range of styles. And I like the later comers, through Britten and into the contemporary scene. I go, see, listen, and support.

But I cannot "get" Wagner - especially later Wagner. I've seen most of his works (almost all filmed, not live) and it mostly seems overwrought, overly portentous with unconvincing plotting, falsely mythic, and dull. Even when the universe is exploding, it feels like a big ball of bullshit. God, those dreary scorings and the pacing and spirit of an army of slugs heading slowly into the sea.

Not everything, of course - individual motifs and the occasional aria, duo or combination are stirring. But it's rare, and a tiny part of the whole dull affair. As a composer he is so fucking ungenerous and full of himself. Blah blah blah ad infinitum. I read Shaw's essays and wonder what the hell he was hearing.

SO what do I need to do to experience what others do? How do I care? I thought it would take me getting older, but I'm as mature now as I'm going to be, and if anything I'm less patient. I can sit through almost anything, but not the Ring. Or Parsifal. Or T&I. Etc.

by Anonymousreply 2905/10/2013

Some say about Wagner's music, "It really isn't as bad as it sounds." I say, "Yes, it really *is* as bad as it sounds."

What you need isn't "what it takes," but rather the ability to accept that you agree with the latter statement. For me, "enjoy" and "Wagner" are only used together in a sentence like this.

by Anonymousreply 105/09/2013

It's very possibly just not for you. I love Wagner, but I also tend toward the German operas in general and things that are "denser" than your average "Figaro". This is not to degrade any of it, it's a matter of taste.

I love the scope and the speed of Wagner - when I go see one of his operas, I know I'm in for a long immersive experience. The better I get to know it, the more I find myself totally engaged.

I also think there's nothing wrong with letting your mind wander a bit, and just basking in the sound and the atmosphere of where you are and what's going on. God knows some of the Wotan soliloquies can meander on for a while without much happening musically. But I even accept those as a part of the whole.

Personally I'm not so into the Italian stuff. I like the "Traviatas" and the "Bohemes" just fine, but I'd never go out of my way to see them. But a Wagner, or a Strauss, or (I can't believe I'd say this) a Berg? I'm there.

Different strokes. Totally fine if it's not your bag, but for me and many others, it transports me to a place nothing else in music does. Yeah it's pretentious and overblown and the guy was a Grade-A dickhead a lot of the time and who was unfortunately co-opted by some truly evil motherfuckers, but it grabs me. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up just thinking about the opening of Act Two of "Parsifal". Nothing in opera makes me cry like the last 15 minutes of "Walküre", though a great orchestra thundering through Siegfried's Funeral March comes close.

"Rienzi", though? Overblown bullshit. No argument here.

by Anonymousreply 205/09/2013

Just make it Nazi themed, and people will talk about it non stop!

by Anonymousreply 305/09/2013

OP, I have really tried to embrace the operas but I just cannot "connect" with them.

by Anonymousreply 405/09/2013

OP, it's okay if you don't like Wagner.

I adore his operas myself, and it's not because of my German ancestry, or my interest in ancient European pagan religions. I just think the music is beautiful. So lush, so romantic, so filled with emotion! And so complex, if you look at it in detail or try to sing it, but it's the feeling that makes it work for me and not the technicalities.

Now, can someone tell me how to appreciate Bel Canto?

by Anonymousreply 505/09/2013

If you like opera you don't necessarily like all opera, just as if you like rock and roll you don't like all rock and roll.

I love most 19th century opera, but I cannot stand anything before Mozart (like Gluck and Handel), and I'm not even as fond of Mozart as other people are. I love some 20th century opera (Strauss, Benjamin Britten, John Adams, Bartok) but cannot stand more cerebral stuff (Die Soldaten, Berg).

I love Wagner, but many people don't.

by Anonymousreply 605/09/2013


by Anonymousreply 705/09/2013

I agree with the others, it's "okay" to not like Wagner. But if you're asking for the best way to enjoy it, I would say do your homework. Know the plot before you go, and get familiar with the motifs. Listen to the music around the house. Work out to Die Walkure.

I've gone through years where I've loved Wagner, and years where I've hated it. But if you really make an effort, it can be sublime.

by Anonymousreply 805/09/2013

I think knowing the motivic structure of the operas and their philosophical concepts gives the auditor a much greater appreciation of the Wagner canon (check out the annotated RING libretti, published by Phaidon, for a comprehensive overview). It took me a LONG time to get to that place, years of study, in fact (and I'm a musician), and I'm a much bigger fan as a result. Wagner's grasp of myth is quite profound, his music extraordinarily beautiful and his theatrical concepts, however limited by their Victorian dramaturgy, audacious and astounding.

by Anonymousreply 905/09/2013

No one has yet said, "just smoke copious amounts of pot, silly." So I will say it.

by Anonymousreply 1005/09/2013

All the Wagner you need to know...

by Anonymousreply 1105/09/2013

I vaguely remember liking Wagner in music class I love minor keys and haunting sad music. Was he a biz or did the nazis just love his music?

by Anonymousreply 1205/09/2013

I used to adore Vaggghnuh, but the portentousness slowly started to grate and I finally just drifted away.

by Anonymousreply 1305/09/2013

This is a white people's thread.

by Anonymousreply 1405/09/2013

The British wit Frank Muir, I think it was, quipped, "A Wagner opera is where you go in at 6 pm, and four hours later you look at your watch and it says 6.20."

by Anonymousreply 1505/10/2013

"Was he a biz"

A what?

by Anonymousreply 1605/10/2013

Wagner is the shit, yo. Fuck all y'all!

by Anonymousreply 1705/10/2013

Phil Spector is a huge Wagner fan.

by Anonymousreply 1805/10/2013

Being an opera fan doesn't mean you have to like all of it. I love Wagner, mostly, though I find Meistersinger a bore. I love Meyerbeer and hate Gounod. Find most of Rossini's "serious" operas tedious and forgettable, but have a soft spot for Zandonai's Francesa. It's impossible to tell what people will or won't like--as it is, no one's really quite sure why any piece of music appeals to an individual person (though there are theories). Why worry about it? You're only missing something if you're convinced you're missing something, and if that's the case, you'll go about working on developing an appreciating for it. But keep in mind the fact they you just might never be successful at that. And that's okay.

by Anonymousreply 1905/10/2013

Even as a casual Wagner fan, this always makes me laugh.

by Anonymousreply 2005/10/2013

Wagner was one of the greatest of all composers. But his works are not for all tastes. They demand attention and patience, and a certain degree of obsession, I must admit. They are not inherently 'dull', but many experience them that way. Give me Wagner over Donizetti/Rossini/Bellini any day.

by Anonymousreply 2105/10/2013

I often freestyle over Wagner.

by Anonymousreply 2205/10/2013

It's not my tastes either OP.

by Anonymousreply 2305/10/2013

He was a rabid anti Semite

by Anonymousreply 2405/10/2013

Has anyone been to the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth?

by Anonymousreply 2505/10/2013

OP--You are clearly knowledgeable about music so you know this is a silly request. You either like it or you don't. It's not a matter of argument or persuasion. Wagner is not a man I admire, to say the least, and his adoption by the Nazis is another turn-off. I don't want to like the music, but I've been hooked since I first heard parts of Siegfried's Funeral March in the soundtrack of Excalibur.

by Anonymousreply 2605/10/2013

Michael's turning you into an opera queen.

by Anonymousreply 2705/10/2013

I once had a chance to get tickets, r26, but couldn't make it for scheduling reasons. I get the order form every year. One of these days, Wotan willing.

by Anonymousreply 2805/10/2013
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