[NOTE: This entry has been updated (1) as of 9:11 PM Eastern on 31 Aug. See below.]
On a venerable online opera discussion group, there began a discussion on the text (libretto) of Wagner's Parsifal. One member commented preposterously that the text of Parsifal was "preposterous" and contained as well "white supremacist and sexist implications [and] a palpably phony[-]baloney Christianity shot through with bigotry." Another, more generally and more soberly, commented:
If Wagner had a flaw as a librettist, it's that he was not ruthless enough about trimming interesting "color" details he had unearthed in his research. There are places in MEISTERSINGER and PARSIFAL where it is difficult to get a clear emotional through-line because there is so much talk about minutiae of the Mastersingers' tablatur [sic] or the complicated relationship between the Grail and the Liturgy, for example.Bypassing our, um, corrective response to the former commenter, we responded to the latter:
While I never had a problem dramatically with the setting forth of the minutiae of "the complicated relationship between the Grail and the Liturgy" in _Parsifal_ as its dramatic pace fit well with the dramatic pace of the rest of the music-drama, I for years had a problem feeling the same way about the lengthy, detailed, dramatically disproportionate explanation of the technical requirements a song must meet in order to be considered a song worthy of a Mastersinger not to even speak of a song worthy of a prize. But little by little I came to realize that without that lengthy, detailed explanation the audience would never really feel or get a real sense of just what Walther was up against in creating a new song for the competition much less a song worthy of a prize from the Mastersingers — in this case, THE prize. Once I understood that, the lengthy, detailed explanation of the technical requirements a song must meet in order to be considered a song worthy of a Mastersinger and a prize seemed just the right thing dramatically, its disproportionateness a purposeful (if dramatically risky) creative act on Wagner's part. Lesson learned: never second-guess a transcendent creative genius. If you imagine there's something amiss with a work of his (or hers) you will invariably find in the end that the fault was with your understanding, not the work.We await the static our above closing graf is almost certain to bring.
Update (9:11 PM Eastern on 31 Aug): Didn't have to wait long for the static to arrive.
Ah, does Mr. Douglas even suspect the implications of his last paragraph? One wonders...To which we responded:
Mr. Douglas is indeed aware of "the implications" of said paragraph. But then, it very much depends on who one considers to be a member of that very exclusive Transcendent Creative Genius club. In the domain of opera, one may, for instance, consider, say, Verdi to be among their number. But with all due respect to Verdi's great creative gift, I do not. In the domain of opera, I consider but two composers to be members of that very exclusive club: Mozart and Wagner, and so in this case my referenced paragraph applies to them exclusively.We expect more. Or perhaps not, given our above quoted response.