Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wagner, Buddhism, and "Parsifal"

The talk given by Paul Schofield on April 19, 2008, for the Boston Wagner Society was a terrific success. Mr. Schofield, a Buddhist monk and the author of "The Redeemer Reborn: 'Parsifal' as the Fifth Opera of Wagner's 'Ring,'" gave a very thought-provoking lecture on how the main influence on Wagner was not Schopenhauer or Feuerbach, as is commonly assumed, but Buddhist thought. This novel idea needs to be taken very seriously, as it makes eminent sense and there is a lot of documentation to back it up.
The audience at this well-attended lecture listened with rapt attention and asked so many questions that the event went long past the expected ending time.
We hope that Mr. Schofield will expand on his thesis and write a second book, this time on how Wagner's music, rather than librettos, was influenced by Buddhism.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Die Walkuere at the Met

I listened to the first two acts of a broadcast of "Die Walkuere" at the Met with great anticipation. This performance marked the long-awaited return of conductor Lorin Maazel and augured well. Unfortunately, Maazel's conducting lacked any frisson and was executed with military precision, so counter-intuitive for Wagner. Luckily, the tenor Clifton Forbis (Siegmund) came to the rescue by singing his heart out. His music was full of passion and care. At times his notes were inaccurate, but I readily forgave him. The other singers were more than up to the task also. James Morris as Wotan was in fine form and gave a nuanced rendition, at least vocally. Lisa Gasteen's high notes seemed to be missing, but she was a powerful Bruennhilde.

What was Act 3 like? Please feel free to add your thoughts and impressions about the entire performance.