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Subject: Re: AC's question about Solit
From: "A.C. Douglas" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:A.C. Douglas
Date:Mon, 30 Mar 2009 02:20:06 -0400

text/plain (76 lines)

"Scott Tisdel" wrote:

> Has [Porges's] book been translated into English?  I would love to read it.

As I noted in my linked S&F piece on the Porges book, the English translation
(by Robert L. Jacobs) was published in 1983 by Cambridge University Press
under the title, _Wagner Rehearsing the Ring_, but which translation is,
unhappily, now long out of print (or was at last check in 2004).

In answer to "A.C. Douglas" writing:

> "[N]o  conductor, no producer, no director, no singer, no scenic designer,
> no anyone ought to be permitted to have anything to do with a production of
> the _Ring_ before first committing to memory and total understanding what
> Porges records in this book, and then swearing a sacred oath to never, on
> pain of horrid mutilation and death, depart from what's there written,
> remembering that what Porges recorded were *Wagner's* directions and
> insights on the _Ring_ and its performance, not his  own."

<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I wholeheartedly agree that Wagner's own directions  and insights on the
> "Ring" and its performance are not only valuable, but  indispensable to a
> basic understanding of the cycle and to any creative  processes that could
> possibly lead to a competent interpretation or staging  thereof.  That
> said, I have a question--or, rather, questions.
> To what degree are the "wishes" of a composer re  the interpretation
> and/or staging of his work holy writ?  Conductors and  directors of all
> stripes have given us "versions" of all sorts of operas that  are WIDELY
> considered to be highly competent but that have deliberately
> violated--sometimes grossly--the expressed wishes of the composer.
> [snip]
> So what makes Wagner sacrosanct? And if we're going to adhere  to Porges'
> written strictures on Wagner, don't we also have to forego all
> performances of "Parsifal" except at Bayreuth, as per Wagner's clearcut
> wish?  Let's not get caught up in the silly game of confusing insightful
> guides with holy gospel.

First, let me make it clear that Porges in his record wrote NO "strictures on
Wagner." Porges merely *reported* what Wagner said and did at those 1876
_Ring_ rehearsals.

That being cleared up, your question, "What makes Wagner sacrosanct," is
largely a straw man as concerns the matter of staging. Porges's record is a
record of how Wagner handled the musical and the dramatic elements of the
_Ring_, not its staging, concerning which staging Wagner was no better than
any man of the theater of his time. Those Porges-reported insights into
Wagner's musical and dramatic creative and performance mind are invaluable
not merely because Wagner was the work's creator -- its sole and *total*
creator; and let us not forget that Wagner was also considered to be perhaps
the greatest conductor of his time and not only of his own works, and
something of a magician as an actor -- but because Wagner was a transcendent
musico-dramatic genius the likes of which never existed before him -- not
even the sublimely transcendent Mozart -- and hasn't existed since. Anyone
who today imagines he can second-guess or better Wagner in matters musical
and dramatic in the performance of his operas is either a megalomaniacal
madman or a flat-out idiot.


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