Cutting to the core about Wagner

Is the German Romantic opera composer the biggest successful egotist in the history of art? (He couldn’t even compose an effective symphony, yet look, he couldn’t trust anyone else with a libretto, either.)

He was definitely stuck in a Madonna/whore complex regarding women and, more specifically, women within further Roman Catholic entanglements like relics and grails and a sword or spear or two. Where was Freud? Talk about symbolism? It all gets pretty lurid, even before we get to the serious limitations regarding his immortals. I wouldn’t call them gods, exactly, but rather something more like today’s tainted celebrities and political hopefuls. What losers! So badly dressed, at that.

He definitely wouldn’t have gone for today’s fashion supermodels, either. Everything in his world is hefty, leading to some of the most sumptuous music ever. Seems nobody ever asked how he really felt about his mother. Give me some more sumptuous scoring, please.

And yes, he goes way over the top, including the seemingly endlessly boring stretches of boredom.

As Mark Twain said, he’s not nearly as bad as he sounds.

Not that he can apparently help it.

But then, as critic Alex Ross has elaborated, he’s also the foundation of Hollywood, from the plots and scenery all the way up. Think of the thousands involved in each movie and then the music.

For years now, I’ve been explaining opera as the movies of their time. Turns out to be more accurate than I imagined.

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