Bernd Weikl, Swastikas on Stage: Trends in the Productions of Richard Wagner’s Operas in German Theaters Today, tr. Susan Salms-Moss (Berlin: Pro-Business, 2015). 221 pp. €15.00. ISBN: 978-3-86460-305-1.
The far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has recently made cultural as well as political headlines in Germany. In late 2015, it obtained a preliminary injunction against Berlin’s Schaubühne using images of its members in Falk Richter’s FEAR. The party’s 2016 manifesto for Saxony-Anhalt, where it came second in regional elections, spoke of obliging museums, theatres and orchestras to offer a ‘positive’ view of their ‘homeland’. Cultural organisations should not only stage more classical German drama but do so in productions that ‘inspire identification with our country’. Cheered on by Facebook’s ‘Against Modern Opera Productions’ (AMOP) page, which chillingly declares that it is not a forum for discussion but for mobilisation and conceals its mysterious administrators under the cloak of anonymity, this Kulturkampf receives implicit support in this equally chilling book by Bernd Weikl. Weikl certainly seeks no anonymity. Whether his politics in more general terms resemble those of AfD and AMOP, I have no idea; I have no reason to think so. However, his wish to prohibit Wagner stagings that do not conform to his conception of their ‘pure form’ (a slightly odd, yet not entirely unreasonable, translation of his original, ‘bloße Form’), urging criminal action against those engaging in presumably ‘impure’ productions, marks a sad coda indeed to a highly distinguished musical career. For alas, if one of Weikl’s most celebrated Wagner roles were as Hans Sachs in Wolfgang Wagner’s almost incredibly banal Bayreuth Meistersinger, he seems to have taken Wolfgang the director as his model, rather than Wolfgang the daring recruiter of external directors from Patrice Chéreau to Stefan Herheim.
(This review was first published in The Wagner Journal, 10/2 (2016), 78-82. Please click here for subscription details.)
 ‘“Die Stimme der Bürger!” – unser Programm! Wahlprogramm zur Landtagswahl am 13. März 2016. “Wir für unsere Heimat”’. Manifesto of the Alternativ für Deutschland, Saxony-Anhalt
accessed 30 Mar. 2016, 20.
 I have not had opportunity to consult the German original (Bernd Weikl, Warum Richard Wagner in Deutschland verboten muss (Leipzig, 2014)), but Barbara Eichner, who has, tells me that ‘bloße Form’ is used for the equivalent phrase to the English blurb explanation, while the more troubling ‘rein’ [pure] is used frequently throughout the book.
 Christoph Richter, ‘Der Traum von der deutschen Leitkultur‘, Deutschlandfunk, 12 Mar. 2016, <http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/kulturpolitik-der-afd-der-traum-von-der-deutschen-leitkultur.691.de.html?dram:article_id=348240>, accessed 30 Mar. 2016.
 Richard J. Evans, Telling Lies About Hitler: The Holocaust, History, and the David Irving Trial (London, 2002).
 Thomas Mann, ‘Sufferings and Greatness of Richard Wagner’, in Essays of Three Decades, tr. Helen Lowe-Porter (New York, 1947), pp. 307–52. Mann’s celebrated address was delivered at the University of Munich on 10 February 1933, and was followed by the ‘Protest’ in the Münchner Neueste Nachrichten of 16/17 April, subsequent to the ‘national restoration of Germany [… having] taken on definite form’. It is reprinted and translated in Sven Friedrich, ‘Ambivalenz der Leidenschaft – Thomas Mann und Richard Wagner. Zum 125. Geburtstag Thomas Manns’, in Programmhefte der Bayreuther Festspiele (Bayreuth, 2000),
pp. 142, 150.
 That is the German-language version of AMOP, where the still harder-core material, semi-free from prying Anglophone eyes, appears. What seems to be a slight misquotation from Marcel Prawy, in which the Kiss me, Kate enthusiast and sometime Viennese dramaturge likens Regietheater to AIDS – ‘Das Regietheater ist für die Oper das, was Aids für den menschlichen Körper ist’ – has been posted approvingly on more than one occasion (e.g., 13 July 2015,
accessed 23 Mar. 2016). Protests met with all manner of abuse, homophobic,
misogynistic, racial and more, often from members with a curious pattern of
coincidentally having ‘liked’ Pegida pages.