Posted inReview

The Ecstasy of Knowledge

Early in Wagnerism: Art and Politics In the Shadow of Music, a history of the cult of fandom devoted to the operas of 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner, Alex Ross drops a charming anecdote from the 1850s. Poet and critic Auguste de Gasperini told of being “subjugated” by Wagner’s music, suffering what Ross calls “an […]

Posted inEssay

What You Have Seen

The sepia photograph, taken over a century ago, shows Ottilie Metzer-Lattermann in a brimmed hat and pale summer dress, standing on a garden path in northern Bavaria. Today, that same garden is blooming with marigolds, geraniums, and bird of paradise flowers. The path moves uphill past shade trees and a waterlily pond, before turning right […]

Posted inReport

I Am Singing About Myself

Conversations with Black Otellos By · Title Image © Roy Peters · Date 06/09/2016 Introduction On a late night this past spring, I saw a headline in The Independent that would soon provoke exasperation in parts of the opera world, outrage in others: “Otello: Why is a white tenor leading the Royal Opera House’s new […]

Posted inPlaylist

Chains Are My Reward

While awaiting his execution by firing squad, the painter Cavaradossi sings, “I die in despair, and never before have I loved life so much!” It’s an aria of reverie, lament, and implicit protest against his captors. In this opera, Puccini’s “Tosca” (1900), power and evil aren’t abstractions: the chief of secret police has arrested and […]

Posted inInterview

Queen Of The Gods

“My heart is aghast, / my mind’s in a whirl” sings Fricka, goddess of marriage, hearth, home, and family, faced with her husband Wotan’s latest disruption to their family life. In Richard Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” the queen and king of the gods struggle over how to manage their and other people’s marriages, unruly […]