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Stories of the Wagner Opera   By: (1859-1929)

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First Page:

[Illustration: RICHARD WAGNER.]

STORIES OF THE WAGNER OPERA.

BY

H.A. GUERBER,

Author of

"MYTHS OF GREECE AND ROME," "MYTHS OF NORTHERN LANDS," "CONTES ET LÉGENDS," etc.

NEW YORK: DODD, MEAD, AND COMPANY. 1905.

Copyright 1895 , BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY.

University Press: JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.

Dedicated to my Friend, M.A. McC.

PREFACE.

These short sketches, which can be read in a few moments' time, are intended to give the reader as clear as possible an outline of the great dramatist composer's work.

The author is deeply indebted to Professor G.T. Dippold, to Messrs. Forman, Jackman, and Corder, and to the Oliver Ditson Company, for the poetical quotations scattered throughout the text.

CONTENTS. Page

Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes 7 The Flying Dutchman 23 Tannhäuser 38 Lohengrin 56 Tristan and Ysolde 72 The Master Singers of Nuremberg 88 The Nibelung's Ring. Rheingold 105 The Walkyrie 120 Siegfried 138 Dusk of the Gods 154 Parsifal 172

ILLUSTRATIONS. Page

Richard Wagner Frontispiece Banishment of Rienzi 7 Senta 23 Tannhäuser and Venus 38 Ortrud kneeling before Elsa 56 Tristan's Death 72 Walther crowned by Eva 88 The Rhine Maidens 105 Brunhilde discovering Siegmund and Sieglinde 120 Siegfried and Mime 138 Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens 154 Parsifal in the Enchanted Garden 172

[Illustration: BANISHMENT OF RIENZI.]

RIENZI,

THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES.

Wagner was greatly troubled in the beginning of his career about the choice of subjects for his operas. His first famous work, 'Rienzi,' is founded upon the same historical basis as Bulwer's novel bearing the same name, and is a tragic opera in five acts. The composer wrote the poem and the first two acts of the score in 1838, during his residence at Riga, and from there carried it with him to Boulogne. There he had an interview with Meyerbeer, after his memorable sea journey. Wagner submitted his libretto and the score for the first acts to that famous composer, who is reported to have said, 'Rienzi is the best opera book extant,' and who gave him introductions to musical directors and publishers in Paris. In spite of this encouraging verdict on Meyerbeer's part, Wagner soon discovered that there was no chance of success for 'Rienzi' in France, and, after completing the score while dwelling at Meudon, he forwarded it in 1841 to Dresden. Here the opera found friends in the tenor Tichatscheck and the chorus master Fisher, and when it was produced in 1842 it was received with great enthusiasm. The opera, which gave ample opportunity for great scenic display, was so long, however, that the first representation lasted from six o'clock to midnight. But when Wagner would fain have made excisions, the artists themselves strenuously opposed him, and preferred to give the opera in two successive evenings. At the third representation Wagner himself conducted with such success that 'he was the hero of the day.' This great triumph was reviewed with envy by the admirers of the Italian school of music, and some critics went so far in their partisanship as to denounce the score as 'blatant, and at times almost vulgar... Continue reading book >>




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