Creativity or desecration?

Posted on 10, Jun, 2015 in Uncategorized

Creativity or desecration?

I did not see the Castorf Ring but John Manger’s review makes me glad I did not.  He mentions Bayreuth productions that did nothing except “annoy/irritate/alienate.”  I have seen three different Rings at Bayreuth and all of them annoyed, irritated or alienated to varying degrees.

My book Richard Wagner: The Lighter Side, is a collection of interesting facts, quips, quotes, anecdotes and inspirational tales from the life and works of the man from Saxony. It comprises mostly non-controversial  material  but I took the opportunity to include a lengthy intermission piece titled Creativity or Desecration. It covers three of my objections to Regie productions of The Ring and the other works.

1.  Directors who seek to win attention by shocking the audience. Schlingensief’s Parsifal and Castorf’s Ring are two obvious examples. Such productions certainly get a lot of media attention and maybe that is the objective. But they also help people like me build a list of directors whose work I will never see again.

2 Productions that introduce irrelevant creativity like airplane themes, telecoms engineers working in the background, or a circle of candles on a table to represent magic fire. Some may see such elements as creative. To me, they are confusing and irrelevant and get in the way of Wagner’s story telling.

3. Productions where what we see is in direct conflict with what we hear. The ENO Ring had Brunnhilde put to sleep on the rock by white-coated thugs wielding hypodermic needles while Wotan stands to one side and watches.  We see this ugliness while listening to some of the most beautiful and emotional music ever written. That’s desecration in my book.

My own annoyance, irritation and alienation showed when I wrote: “Maybe we should follow the example of Peter Finch in the film Network. Open the windows now, put your head outside and shout to your
neighbors, ‘I’m a Wagnerian, I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’”

My views are supported by several prominent Wagnerians who agreed to be quoted in my book. I leave it to others to defend some of the productions that I find so irrelevant, confusing or offensive.

Terry Quinn

For more details about Terry’s book “Richard Wagner: The Lighter Side” see here.

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