Lordy Lordy Someone’s Five Times Forty!

Today is the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner’s birth. Here is an ideal performance by the great Waltraud Meier of what has come to be known as the “Liebestod” (love-death*)–the last music in Tristan und Isolde.


*although certain friends and I refer to it as the love-frog.

8 responses to “Lordy Lordy Someone’s Five Times Forty!”

  1. T-Mo says:

    I know this is probably tacky to bring up on his birthday, but what do you make of the whole anti-Semitic take on Wagner? I sure like the operas, but I find the history troubling.

    Have you seen Lisztomania, Ken Russell’s fantastically bizarre biopic of Liszt? As you see, Wagner doesn’t come off so well. That’s Cosima guiding FrankeNazi-Wagner’s arm on the guitar/machine gun, Liszt (Roger Daltrey) in prison, and Hans von Bulow vainly trying to stop the slaughter. I know this clip is an exaggerated interpretation, but there is still

    Is it all just latter-day appropriation? Can you help me stop worrying and learn to love the Ring?

  2. Bryan says:

    I should mention here that I love Cosima Wagner’s twitter: @CosimaWagner

  3. T-Mo says:

    Gah! Poor editing to comment #1. Got distracted by work. Work! Bloody, bloody work. Jobs are for chumps.

  4. Smearcase, Mr. says:

    I’ve never seen Lisztomania, but as to Wagner and his anti-Semitism, it just feels wholly immaterial to me, so I’ve never gone to great lengths to find out its exact dimensions. Anti-semitism was hardly uncommon and you’d have to cross a whole lot of art off your list if you wanted to avoid any taint of it.

    Perhaps I’m lucky that I’m not the most text-based opera listener…things like Parsifal that are ostensibly a shonde fur di yidn, well…Parisfal is gibberish to begin with. Here’s a sample of the plot from Wikipedia:

    “Klingsor’s magic castle. Klingsor conjures up Kundry, waking her from her sleep. He calls her by many names: First Sorceress, Hell’s Rose, Herodias, Gundryggia and, lastly, Kundry. She is now transformed into an incredibly alluring woman, as when she once seduced Amfortas. She mocks Klingsor’s mutilated condition by sarcastically inquiring if he is chaste (“Ha ha! Bist du keusch?”), but she cannot resist his power. Klingsor observes that Parsifal is approaching and summons his enchanted knights to fight the boy. Klingsor watches as Parsifal overcomes his knights, and they flee. Klingsor wishes destruction on their whole race.”


    So I go to Parsifal and, ideally, if I’m not tired or worried about some bullshit from the day, I go to kind of a hypnotic place and bask in the music, which is repetitive and exquisite. It’s important that there is singing and that there are words, but it doesn’t matter a lot to me what they are. Probably nobody up there on the stage wants to kill the Jews. The music doesn’t want anything because it’s music. Wagner doesn’t hate anyone because he’s dead.

  5. T-Mo says:

    That’s pretty much what I did until I paid attention to the whole unification of Germany subtext of the Ring and then read the Wiki on Cosima after viewing Lisztomania. Now I can relax a little. I do recommend a viewing of the movie. It’s hilariously over the top, worth it just for the scene of Roger Daltrey riding a 10-foot cock.

  6. Farrell Fawcett says:

    This is the kind of post that I don’t get anywhere anywhere else in all my social media comings and goings. Thank you Smearcase for bringing this to my life.

  7. Bryan says:

    The spam filter appears to be misfiring, but you have to admit these robot commentators have such lovely names. I especially love “sss – pandora charms.”

  8. Bryan says:

    Following up on 6 to say yes, thanks for posting this. What a stunning clip.