The Forbidden Naiad of Wagner’s Music

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Het Concert-Gebouw. Wagner’s die Walküre conducted by Jaap van Zwede, Singers Stuart Skelton (Siegmund), Anja Kampe (Sieglinde), and bariton Kwangchul Youn (Hunding). It was a brilliant performance, way above my expectation.

The Trouw’s review gets a badly wrong, in a way. It complains about the lack of staging, acting, forceful drama. It does not give enough credit to great singing of Anja Kampe (Sieglinde) and unblievable force in Skelton’s “Wälse! Wälse!” palpable at the bottom of my feet.

For me Wagner is not about drama, I don’t need any dramatic effect to be immersed in Wagner’s naiad. The music and singing is more than enough. Even Nietzche in his most anti-Wagnerian mode admitted this much.

But quite apart from the magnétiseur and fresco-painter Wagner, there is another Wagner who lays aside small gems: our greatest melancholiac in music, full of glances, tendernesses, and comforting words in which nobody has anticipated him, the master in tones of a heavy-hearted and drowsy happiness.

What is tenderness in Wagner, you ask. Listen to Knappertsbutsch’s performance of the Prelude to Act III of Wagner’s Meistersinger. The morning music for the one who has not slept all night.

I think I have become one of the most corrupted Wagnerians.