By M. Owen Lee
Richard Wagner's wisdom of and fervour for Greek drama used to be so profound that for Friedrich Nietzsche, Wagner used to be Aeschylus come alive back. unusually little has been written concerning the pervasive impact of classical Greece at the quintessentially German grasp. during this based and masterfully argued publication, well known opera critic Father Owen Lee describes for the modern reader what it could possibly were wish to witness a dramatic functionality of Aeschylus within the theatre of Dionysus in Athens within the 5th century B.C. - anything that Wagner himself undertook to do on a number of events, imagining a functionality of The Oresteia in his brain, examining it aloud to his associates, delivering his personal observation, and pertaining to the Greek vintage drama to his personal romantic view.
Father Lee additionally makes use of Wagner's writings on Greece and entries from his wife's diaries to solid new gentle on Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, Parsifal, and particularly the powerful Ring cycle, the place Wagner made wide use of Greek components to offer structural solidarity and dramatic credibility to his Nordic and Germanic myths. No opera fan, argues Father Lee, can rather comprehend Wagner saving Brünhilde with out understanding the Athena who, in Greek drama, first introduced justice to Athens.
Written with a readability and intensity of information that experience characterised all Father Lee's books at the classics of Greece and Rome and made his six different volumes of opera bestsellers, Athena Sings lines the profound impression - a power few track fanatics are conscious of - that Greek theatre and tradition had at the so much German of composers and his innovative musical dramas.
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Extra info for Athena Sings: Wagner and the Greeks
Athena leads them, torch in hand, in a shining processional across the orchestra and out of the theatron till they pass out of sight to make their home under the nearby Areopagus, the place of Athens's ancient court of justice. The music of the aulos comes to a halt. Overhead the sun stands high in the sky of Zeus. What do we say now as we rise from out seats? Perhaps that the crimson of the tapestry used to kill a king became the colour of the robes in which the Furies vested themselves to play a new, constructive role in a democ- 42 Athena Sings: Wagner and the Greeks racy.
Intuitive versus rational. Familial versus political. Neither side is right. A synthesis is needed. A jury of twelve just citizens, that democratic Athenian invention, is called to decide its outcome. The vote splits. Athena herself must cast the deciding vote. And she does - for mercy. Athena is, of course, the patron spirit of our Athens. She is also the deity who embodies in her one radiant person both the male and the female. Born fully grown and fully armed from the brain of Zeus, she is the feminine incarnation of male wisdom.
And Wagner liked them less. He could hardly tolerate Euripides at all. It was Aeschylus who obsessed him when he wrote the Ring text. It was Aeschylus he read in the afternoon through the years when he set the Ring to music in the morning. And in Aeschylus the real dramatic element is the chorus, interpreting in the orchestra the real meaning of what the actors are acting in front of the skene. The chorus sees everything at a deeper, intuitive, unconscious level while the actors hardly see anything at all, hardly know why they are acting as they do.
Athena Sings: Wagner and the Greeks by M. Owen Lee