MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Another Wagner Comedy

No, Die Meistersinger is not Wagner’s only comic opera. Ahead of Seattle Shakespeare Company’s new production of Measure for Measure, here’s a taste of the German’s operatic take on this “problem comedy.”

Reviewing a production of The Ban on Love at Glimmerglass Festival back in 2008, the critic Philip Kennicott remarked that this youthful outing “is 99 percent a study in everything the mature Wagner is not.”

Kennicott goes on to note:

Wagner turned away from so much of the spirited energy he let loose in “Liebesverbot.” When it premiered in 1836, he stood, briefly, for free love and revolution and the creative destruction of the collective libido. By the end of his life, in 1883, he viewed sexuality as a kind of sickness, and his final work, “Parsifal,” celebrated a monkish cult of men devoted to celibacy and arcane religious rituals.


“Liebesverbot” is fascinating — not because Wagner discarded its musical and ethical worldview, but because he would spend his life thrashing its remnants out of himself.

Filed under: Shakespeare, Wagner


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