THE WANDERING TRAVELLER
KELLY FERJUTZ delves further
into Richard Wagner and the
forthcoming symposium in Ohio
In many ways, Richard Wagner is like an orange. You look at it and see one thing -- one entity. But when you remove the outer peeling, what is discovered is multiple segments of varying sizes, varying colors and varying sweetness. Sometimes, you discover seeds. It is this facet of the orange that most resembles the varying presentations of the Third International Wagner Symposium to be held in Canton, Ohio, USA, next weekend, 11-13 May 2007.
Wagner's Ring Cycle -- the four operas telling the tale of the Nibelungen and the search for gold and love and fame and prestige -- has been called the greatest, and most astonishing, example of creative art by one person in known history. Or at least in Western Civilization. And that's only referring to four operas! He wrote a total of thirteen, although there may be a few additional fragments somewhere. He wrote words, music and libretto, and designed the sets and costumes, as well. He wrote Lieder and French Mélodie. He (sort of) designed the ultimate in opera houses -- Bayreuth in Germany's Bavarian province. He knew he was a genius even if no one else did!
His first opera Die Feen was completed before his 21st birthday, and immediately, he started the second one, Das Liebesverbot. Not long before his 23rd birthday it was premièred in Magdeburg. However, Die Feen didn't fare so well, not having its first performance until five years after the composer's death.
From that point on, Wagner turned into a wanderer, amazingly so when one considers the conditions of roads and carriages and travel at that time. This aspect will be the subject of the first of Jeffrey Buller's talks about Wagner: Wagner and the Wanderer. Dr Buller is a classicist at Florida Atlantic University, and was for several years the English-speaking lecturer at Bayreuth. Wagner is known for wandering because of what might be considered meddling in political affairs. Certainly he should have paid attention to them, but perhaps not quite as fervently as he did. Dr Buller sees the wanderer from three vantage points: the traveler as a person, the place traveled to, and the travels through time. 'Every work of Wagner features a wandering traveler', adds Dr Buller. 'This is a reflection from his own life, and how that affects the traveler from being always on the road, not having a home of his own.'
Copyright © 3 May 2007
Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA