Season & Tickets

Ring Symposium I

Symposium I: Tuesday, August 6

As of July 30, 2013 this event is currently SOLD OUT.

Why (and how) does Wagner’s Ring evoke extreme devotion and aversion?

10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Pre-orders for box lunches are no longer available. A limited number of box lunches will be available for sale at noon at McCaw Hall.


Lydia Goehr

Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University

“Aversion and Diversion: How Parody and Satire Have Influenced the Reception of the Ring Cycle"

There is an enormously interesting history about which particular Ring themes were chosen for parody and satire as these works entered the domains of popular culture in many countries through cartoons, television, radio, etc. (Anna Russell to name but one example) How and why did opera, especially Wagner’s, become a theme for politics through the use of illustration and cartoons? In what ways does the nature of the Ring’s themes explain its enormous impact on different kinds of audiences in different countries?

Roger Parker

Professor of Music at King’s College London

"Wagner's 'Italian friends': The Ring and Others Cross the Alps"

In 2013, the year that celebrates the births of both Wagner and Verdi, it may be instructive to look again at the ways in which Italian operatic culture came to terms with the Wagner invasion of the later nineteenth century and beyond. On the Italian peninsula, as almost everywhere else, the emergence of Wagner (first his theories, then, more confusing still, the operas) proved traumatic and divisive, intersecting as it did with a general sense of cultural decline in the shaky first decades of the new nation state. Verdi himself was ambivalent, respecting Wagner the musician but incensed by his influence on young Italians. Puccini heard Tristan and despaired that Italian composers were, by comparison, "mandolinists"; but Puccini's operas show a more robust confrontation with the Wagnerian shadow, the mighty Ring included. On this sunnier side of the Alps, the issue of wagnerismo was inescapably tied up with nationalism: with anxiety about an Italian identity that had been for so long enmeshed in now-antiquated ideas of bel canto. The fact that aspects of this ancient debate still linger (witness the furore raised by the fact that La Scala has celebrated Wagner more extensively than Verdi in 2013) is just one indication of its deep roots and lasting influence.

Speight Jenkins &
Stephen Wadsworth

Lunchtime Q&A. (Lunch Purchase required)*.

Order Box LunchOrder your Box Lunch for the Symposium in advance (please note this should be purchased separately from your Symposium ticket).

Maestro Asher Fisch at the Piano

"Musical Revolution in the Ring"

Kenneth Reinhard

Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA

Wagner and the Jews: How Do Contemporary Productions Address the Question of Anti-Semitism in Wagner’s Works?

The question of Richard Wagner’s personal and/or musical anti-Semitism became a topic of enormous controversy during and after World War II, when Hitler was a frequent guest at Bayreuth. Nevertheless, during Wagner’s lifetime a disproportionately large portion of his most ardent fans were Jewish, and the Jewish Wagnerite is by no means the exception today. Arguments about Wagner’s anti-Semitism, however, often seem to stagnate in the rival claims of “bad man” and “great music.” Can this deadlock be resolved by focusing on the following issues: what features of the Ring and other of Wagner’s operas have lead critics to accuse him of anti-Semitism? And what does Wagner actually say in his infamous essay, “Jewishness in Music”? Moreover, how do contemporary productions of Wagner’s operas address the question of anti-Semitism in his works? How can modern directors reinterpret his operas in ways that bring out perhaps neglected or latent textual meanings -- not for the sake of sanitizing Wagner, but perhaps to criticize him, or to retrieve subtler meanings that are often ignored or simplified?

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 10:00 AM

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