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By M. Owen Lee

Richard Wagner's wisdom of and fervour for Greek drama used to be so profound that for Friedrich Nietzsche, Wagner was once Aeschylus come alive back. unusually little has been written concerning the pervasive impact of classical Greece at the quintessentially German grasp. during this dependent and masterfully argued booklet, popular opera critic Father Owen Lee describes for the modern reader what it could were wish to witness a dramatic functionality of Aeschylus within the theatre of Dionysus in Athens within the 5th century B.C. - anything that Wagner himself undertook to do on numerous events, imagining a functionality of The Oresteia in his brain, examining it aloud to his buddies, supplying his personal statement, and concerning the Greek vintage drama to his personal romantic view.

Father Lee additionally makes use of Wagner's writings on Greece and entries from his wife's diaries to solid new gentle on Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, Parsifal, and particularly the robust Ring cycle, the place Wagner made large use of Greek parts to provide structural harmony and dramatic credibility to his Nordic and Germanic myths. No opera fan, argues Father Lee, can relatively comprehend Wagner saving Brünhilde with out figuring out the Athena who, in Greek drama, first introduced justice to Athens.

Written with a readability and intensity of information that experience characterised all Father Lee's books at the classics of Greece and Rome and made his six different volumes of opera bestsellers, Athena Sings lines the profound effect - a power few song fanatics are conscious of - that Greek theatre and tradition had at the such a lot German of composers and his innovative musical dramas.

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Extra resources for Athena Sings: Wagner and the Greeks

Sample text

I think I'll nip out, drop by his house while he's preoccupied here, and look in on his wife. ) Or 'He's changing Homer! ) VI By 9:45 the second play is starting - the Choephoroi or Libation Bearers. This is the story familiar to operagoers from Richard Strauss's Elektra, It can be detailed quickly. The chorus now are twelve captive slave women brought by Agamemnon from Troy. They have been ordered to pour libations of wine at his tomb to appease his spirit and to ward off the terrible dreams Clytemnestra has been having through the seven years since she murdered him.

All is not well in the palace. He cannot say openly what he fears because 'an ox stands huge upon / my tongue/ The ox is of course Clytemnestra - that mannish woman who rules through terror. In the kind of proverb a simple man might use we have, combined, the soon-to-be pervasive patterns - a Wagnerian would say, the leitmotifs - of animal imagery and sexual ambivalence. The watchman descends to the skene to change his mask and costume. The actor who plays him will reap- 22 Athena Sings: Wagner and the Greeks pear later in two other roles.

Among the sixty or more authenticated and unauthenticated ancient musical fragments preserved for us, two, on papyrus, have been positively identified as being by Aeschylus's near contemporary Euripides. The first of these comprises only forty-seven scattered notes written over a choral ode from his Orestes; the other is a sustained musical line written over a quotation from his posthumously produced Iphigeneia at Aulis. And one of the other fragments may be by Aeschylus himself. It was discovered in 1918, on the reverse side of a papyrus containing a second-century AD Roman military document.

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