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Tag: Classical Music

Katharina Wagner Will Be Staying in Germany

Great-granddaughter of German composer Richard Wagner canceled a trip to Israel after the leaked news of the visit prompted criticism over her anti-Semitic ancestor.

Katharina Wagner was scheduled to visit the Jewish Country and invite the Israel Chamber Orchestra to open next summer’s Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany.

The visit, which according to Haaretz had been kept secret for a year, was leaked to the Israeli media to the reception of hot and cold reactions both from Israel and abroad.

Usually, Wagner’s works are not performed in Israel where he is unloved for his reputation as an outspoken anti-Semite whose work was venerated by Hitler.

Chairwoman of the orchestra’s board of directors, Erella Talmi told Israel’s Army Radio that the orchestra will play in the opening of the month-long festival of Richard Wagner operas.

“The decision was not to break a taboo,”

Said Talmi,

“The decision was to accept an invitation that showed a new openness.”

Hence, she drew a distinction between performing Wagner in Israel and abroad.

The new Austrian conductor of the orchestra, Roberto Paternostro is a friend of Katharina Wagner’s.
Some musicologists date the beginning of modern classical music to the first notes of Wagner’s Tristan – the Hendrix-esque “Tristan Chord”.

His music is especially known for its early introduction to 20th century atonality.

During the 1870’s, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was part of the composer’s in-crowd – and in fact, Nietzsche (also known to have an anti-Semitic edge, though less sharp) proposed in his first work, The Birth of Tragedy, that Wagner’s music is the “Dionysian rebirth of European culture in opposition to Appollonian rationalist decadence”.

A prolific writer, Wagner wrote a famous essay in 1850, “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Jewishness in Music”), a polemic in opposition to Jewish composers in general, and in particular one Giacomo Meyerbeer. He was also well-known for his mistreatment of German-Jewish composer and conductor, Hermann Levi.

Bravo di Opera di la Scala in the park

Summer is often a wonderful time to attend open air concerts. And such was the case Thursday evening when the world renown Italian opera theater, La Scala of Milan, put on a performance together with the Israel Opera Company in Gan Yehoshua in north Tel Aviv. The concert, in which a special open-air version of Verdi’s Requiem was performed, was given free by both the joint performers, and the Municipality of Tel Aviv, together with other sponsors, including the Israel Tourism Ministry, the Italian Embassy, and Subaru automobile importers.

operaFor those thousands of people who had the pleasure of attending this concert, including those of us who came to Tel Aviv by train to avoid all the traffic and parking problems, we weren’t disappointed, although we had to scramble to get chairs and not have to sit or lay on the grass like many aficionados did; as many of those who brought their own folding chairs with them had to leave them at the entrances to the concert site – some sort of stupid management policy, we reckoned. The sheer numbers of people who attended, many of whom even brought babies and small children along (who were as enthusiastic as their parents for the most part) would have made many think that Madona had decided to up her September concert date; which will be performed in the same location.

Things finally got underway at 9:15 pm after some introductory remarks by His Honor, Mayor Ron Huldai, who used the concert as a good platform to talk about the ongoing 100th anniversary celebrations for his city and to express his gratitude for the gracious participation of La Scala, said to be perhaps the finest opera house in the world, depending of which side of the Atlantic Ocean one lives on.

The only criticism regarding the hour and a quarter concert, was perhaps the type of opera itself that was performed, Verdi’s Requiem; which as opera aficionados know, is a very “heavy” and serious performance, with a great deal of religious connotations, especially in regards to Christianity. While not being real opera fans, but were there for the experience, we felt that there might have been some better choices for a mid-summer night’s open air performance; such as Verdi’s Il Trovatore (The Troubador) or even Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. For an audience which was at least 90% Jewish, and with many observant people in attendance, the subject matter of this performance left a bit to be desired.

Despite this minor issue, the concert was still worth attending, even though we had to leave about 10 minutes early (stepping over and around people sitting and lying on the grass) so as not to miss our train north, and thus missed the “grand finale”, fireworks and all.

If we go to Madonna’s gig, we’ll be sure to pitch up early.

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