Category Archives: Wagner

Finale 28 – Das Rheingold

Wagner wrote the librettos for the four Ring operas in reverse order. The music, however, was composed in the correct sequence. Das Rheingold lays the foundation for the long slog ahead. As it’s all in one act, allowing no chance for a bathroom break, it lasts only 2 hours and 20 minutes, give or take…


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Giuseppe Borgatti

Giuseppe Borgatti (1871-1950) was Italy’s first heldentenor. He was born and raised in rural northern Italy. Apparently he grew up illiterate. His voice was discovered during his compulsory military service. A wealthy patron sponsored both his musical and reading lessons. He made his operatic debut at age 21 as Gounod’s Faust. He became famous when…


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The Ghost in the Machine – A Cautionary Tale

This article is almost a quarter of a century old. I wrote it for a print magazine and then published it here more than a decade ago. It’s buried in the site’s archives. I thought I’d give it fresh exposure and accordingly am resurrecting it. There’s a companion piece that I may also renew. It…


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The Met Must Cancel Wagner

The Metropolitan Opera has recently sent two of its biggest stars down the wormhole – James Levine and Placido Domingo. Before we get to the big enchilada, the subject of this piece, there are lesser players whose memory must be erased. Enrico Caruso, he was a fanny picher and was arrested and fined for the…


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Finale 22 – Die Walküre

The end of the last act of Wagner’s second Ring opera reaches such an exalted level of artistic achievement that one is almost ready to overlook the awfulness of the personality that created it. No conductor since the beginning of the recording era interpreted Wagner’s music with the skill and insight as was displayed by…


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Operas in Which Everyone Dies

Death in opera is a frequent event. But there aren’t that many operas in which everyone goes to the final reward. I’m defining everyone as all of the principal roles. Here are five. I’m sure if I dug a little deeper or thought a little more effectively that I could find more. Addition to this…


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Die Walküre in HD 2019

Die Walküre is the best of Wagner’s four Ring operas. How do I know? Well, I can hear and the numbers also tell me so. Giuseppe Verdi was not only opera’s greatest composer, but also came up with the best system of evaluating the worth of an opera. “Look to the box office,” he said….


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Court Rules Wagner’s Music Dangerous to Health

I written about the medical danger to health associated with Parsifal, now a British court has added Die Walküre to the list of hazardous Wagner operas. Violist Christopher Goldscheider convinced the court that playing in a cramped orchestra pit during a 2012 rehearsal of the opera subjected him to a noise level which resulted in “acoustic…


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Siegfried Wagner – The Impossible Dream

Suppose you were the son of Richard Wagner and the grandson of Franz Liszt – would the chromosomal burden be too much to bear? We can prove the question by examining the career of Siegfried Wagner (1869-1930).  He was born to Richard and Cosima Wagner (1837-1930). Cosima was the illegitimate daughter of Franz Liszt. The…


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Recording of the Week – Birgit Nilsson 10 CD Set

Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005) was one of the vocal marvels of the 20th century. No recording, and she made many, can come close to the impact she made in performance. A voice of limitless power and reserve, she could be heard over the loudest orchestral din. Yet she could modulate her tone to whatever the score…


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