on 27 October 1998
I will never forget the excitement of seeing this book on the shelf. Admittedly, the heavy emphasis on outstanding photography made me hesitant. But, having been to the Festival a couple of times (and having cut through many a book related to Wagner), I had to go with it. I was not disappointed. Indeed, I would be hard pressed to suggest a better written book on the festival, its relationship to Nazi Germany, the conflict of schools of interpretation, Wagnerism, or ... Wagner! This book sails and you are sorry when the trip is over. It also provides a serious, well-organized discussion of the development of Wagner's music and the characters who desired the association of the Wagner household. The musician, performer, historian, critic, biographer, and disciple will all be entertained.
on 15 June 1998
This book isn't just for Wagner buffs, or opera-goers generally. Fascinating for the way it weaves the history of the festival and the Wagner family into the overall context of German history in the 19th and 20th centuries, it should be enjoyed by a much wider audience. The growth of virulent nationalism, and the birth of National Socialism and all the evil that followed were intimately intertwined with the evolution of Bayreuth, and they are part of this highly interesting story.
At no point is this book dull or didactic. The story of the relationships between members of Wagner's family are engaging. The many photographs of the various productions, as well of members of the family and notables from the world of music, are well-chosen. The description of the intrigues and genius behind the design of the Festspielhall and the design of the operas make this a book for all who are interested in the theatre. A highly enjoyable work.
on 28 September 2012
It is an increasing and distressing trend for academic textbooks - let alone less exalted ones - to be published without being checked for errors. This volume has numerous sentences missing, contains a large number of contradictions (the conductor at the festspielhaus can/cannot see the singers; the rehearsals are generously long/unreasonably short), non sequiturs, garbled paragraphs, clumsy phrasing. I open the book at random to find: 'the only serious error in design [of the opera house] was in underestimating the size of the orchestra pit' (p48) - which probably means 'in failing to provide a sufficiently large orchestra pit [in the design]'.
To buy it is to condone it.