Wagner and the Art of the Theatre


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Patrick Carnegy

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The production of Wagner’s operas is fiercely debated. In this groundbreaking stage history Patrick Carnegy vividly evokes the—often scandalous—great productions that have left their mark not only on our understanding of Wagner but on modern theatre as a whole. He examines the way in which Wagner himself staged his works, showing that the composer remained dissatisfied with even the best of his productions.
After Wagner’s death the scenic challenge was taken up by the Swiss visionary Adolphe Appia, by Gustav Mahler and Alfred Roller in Vienna, and by Otto Klemperer and Ewald Dülberg in Berlin. In Russia the Bolsheviks reinvented Wagner as a social revolutionary, while cinema left its indelible imprint on the Wagnerian stage with Eisenstein’s Die Walküre in Moscow in 1940.
Hitler famously appropriated Wagner for his own ends. Patrick Carnegy unscrambles the interaction of politics and stage production, describing how post-war German directors sought a way to bury the uncomfortable past. The book concludes with a critique of the iconoclastic interpretations by Patrice Chéreau, Ruth Berghaus, and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.

Formerly a music critic for the Times and dramaturg at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Patrick Carnegy has lectured, broadcast, and published widely on Wagner, opera, and the theatre.
“[A] massive undertaking… This book is truly epic in its scope, and it will certainly become one of the standard reference works in English, not only in Wagner but on twentieth-century stagecraft.” - Patrick O’Connor, Literary Review

"...long meditated as well as meticulously researched...its overview is magisterial, and, despite its considerable length, the crisply organised structure and unfailing lucidity of the prose make it worth the effort of a thorough and continuous reading."---Rupert Christiansen, The Spectator

"...one of the most marvellous books I have read this year...Patrick Carnegy recounts with deep scholarship combined with good humour, Wagner's obsession with special effects."---A.N. Wilson, The Daily Telegraph

"Well produced and illustrated, and fairly priced - for opera fans this is a must."---Malcolm Hayes, Classic FM Magazine

"... Carnegy has already provided a rich panoply of alternative questions and answers from across the years. The notes are not footnotes but are otherwise a joy, allowing for some Gibbonesque diversions."---Mike Ashman, Opera, May 2007

"Carnegy has managed to out-Wagner Wagner - spending 40 years writing about a century of Wagnerian productions... Carnegy was rewarded when his book won the Royal Philharmonic Society prize for 'creative communication.'"---Stephen Moss, The Guardian

"Clearly reasoned, well written, and superbly documented, this is a magnificent achievement. . . . Essential. All readers; all levels."—Choice

"Carnegy vividly evokes the often scandalous great productions that have left their mark not only on our understanding of Wagner but on modern theater as a whole."—OPERA America Newsline

"Magisterial. . . . This is a book essential to any devoted Wagnerian. . . . Every page has something of insight and interesting detail to offer. Wagner and the Art of the Theatre will be a primary text for years to come."—Stanley Hauer, Southern Humanities Review

"It's rare that I fall in love with a book early in its Introduction, but Patrick Carnegy's Wagner and the Arts of the Theatre is such a work. . . . [It] is essential reading for anyone looking to navigate the culture wars on stage, to learn how production concepts are really conceived and developed, or to enjoy one of the best performing arts books in recent memory."—William Fregosi, Wagner Notes

"One is immensely grateful for the vast territory that Patrick Carnegy charts. . . . With fresh research integrated with his keen dramaturgical perspective, Carnegy succeeds in keeping the focus on the theatre, in an exceptionally vivid yet realistic way. Opera production history has gained another benchmark study."—Katherine R. Syer, Music and Letters

"A deeply rewarding book."—Opera News

Winner of the George Freedley Memorial Award Special Jury Prize awarded by the Theatre Library Association
Winner of the Creative Communication Award awarded by the Royal Philharmonic Society

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2007 by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300197150
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
480 pages, 7 1/2 x 9 1/4
100 b/w illus.