1835 Wagner Ban on Love

SATURDAY, July 25, 2020

This is silly music, and great fun…

Never in a million years would I guess that Wagner wrote this. The title in German is Liebesverbot, but the opera is about Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, so I have no idea where the title came from. Did Wagner know the music of Rossini? It would certainly seem so.

A total disaster as an opera…

Wiki says:

Wagner conducted the premiere in 1836 at Magdeburg. Poorly attended and with a lead singer who forgot the words and had to improvise, it was a resounding flop and its second performance had to be cancelled after a fist-fight between the prima donna’s husband and the lead tenor broke out backstage before the curtain had even risen; only three people were in the audience. It was never performed again in Wagner’s lifetime.

So, there was a fight, the “fat lady” couldn’t remember the words, the tenor had some kind of meltdown, the theatre had less than five people. If ever there was a colossal flop, this is it. I guarantee most people do not even know the existence of this opera and therefore have never heard the overture. I’d guess Gilbert and Sullivan, or Rossini. Wagner? Never.

A very clear recording…

I listened to several interpretations, and most seemed a bit muddy, too much reverb. This starts a bit slower and is clear as slashing knives. I would say this is an unexpected gem.

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