Thursday, 17 January 2013

What in Wotan's name is this?!

The Guardian appears to be offering an A-Z of Wagner during 2013. Fair enough: it is unlikely to be of great interest to those of us who are truly obsessed; it may, however, plausibly pique the interest of others. Yet the quality of entry 'A' for 'Alberich' does not bode well. Once again we hear about a work called the 'Ring Cycle'. Should not the newspaper's much-vaunted style guide inform its writers as to a correct form here? There are a few, but the 'Ring Cycle' is certainly not one of them. More to the point, should someone writing about Wagner not know at least the name of his magnum opus?

Wagner 'mainly' wrote the work 'backwards'? Oh no he didn't. I assume the claim that Alberich is (apparently) left standing at the end because Wagner forgot about him is intended to be amusing; there is, I suppose, no accounting for taste in humour. It surely cannot be intended seriously, given that Alberich in any case appears in Götterdämmerung.

However, most bewildering is this:

He [Alberich] has a brother called Mime, who is easily the most boring character in the Ring Cycle (Das Rheingold is followed in the sequence by Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung). Whenever Mime appears, take a toilet break.
 
Leave aside the inelegant language; leave aside the lack of italics, etc. Mime is 'easily the most boring character' in the Ring cycle? The character whose little, almost Schubert-like paean to old Nibelheim makes us realise what has been lost through Alberich's capitalisation? The character through whom Wagner's dramatic genius makes us feel the great misery of something akin to quotidian existence? The character who thereby actually becomes a credible focus for our sympathy, despite the very real evil of his proto-Nietzschean will to power? I can just about understand almost any reaction to Mime, but 'boring'? Surely one would simply have to hate Wagner to think so; in which case, might it not be better to desist from writing a Wagner A-Z? Perhaps once again, this is meant somehow to be amusing and/or ironic; I cannot imagine how or why.

6 comments:

Dan Schmidt said...

What the heck. I thought Fricka was the canonical most boring character in the Ring. I guess I've never seen Froh display much personality either, but he's not around much.

Mirto Picchi said...

OK, first: "Ring Cycle" makes my skin crawl, one of my major pet peeves. Is there no copy editor at the Guardian?
Second, one of my favorite scenes in "Der Ring des Nibelungen" has become the Wanderer/Mime (aka The Bore) one in "Siegfried."
I just can't say any more.
@Mirto_P

Zwölftöner said...

Sex-crazed toilet breaks in the deranged West Midlands, I don't know, it all sounds vaguely euphemistic. Euphemistic for what precisely, we'd perhaps we wiser not to ask. Any unresolved questions are more likely the oversight of the composer anyway.

The Wagnerian said...

It is an awful article but, I use the Ring Cycle capitalized also it must be said. In part because I'm to lazy to write Nibelungen and in part if you simply write either Wagner's Ring, or the ring, or even the Ring you risk getting the sort of response this rather ill-fated book did on Amazon (as I think I have mentioned before). Poor old DiGaetani : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Penetrating-Wagners-Ring-Capo-Paperback/dp/0306804379

The Wagnerian said...

By the way Mark - boring but related fact - while I was desperately trying to work out my 10th "captcha" to reply to your post, I was reminded that the worlds population spends 500, 000 per day, on average, completing internet captchas. True fact.

Oh well, off to add another hour to that total.

The Wagnerian said...

Sorry, that should have read, "500, 000 hours per day". Oh well, here goes another 6.