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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wickedly funny, and extremely useful!
In preparing for the Bayreuth Festival, I listened to the operas, reviewed the libretti, and read two books--Spotts' "Bayreuth," and Berger's "Wagner without Fear." Forget the snobbery of elitist Wagnerians--this is a great book. Berger's style is witty and irreverant, making it fun to read.
And it is extremely useful. He delivers an...
Published on 20 Aug. 1999

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars good start but fatally flawed finish
Berger's witty (and psuedo-witty) comments on the operas aren't bad and may even be amusing to the Wagnerian neophyte. Where he gets in trouble is the recordings and films section. Very poor. He neglects to mention that "Wagner" with Richard Burton may be well acted but the script is so stilted that sitting through it is almost hopeless. So it really can't...
Published on 19 Nov. 1998


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wickedly funny, and extremely useful!, 20 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Wagner without Fear: Learning to Love and Even Enjoy Opera's Most Demanding Genius (Paperback)
In preparing for the Bayreuth Festival, I listened to the operas, reviewed the libretti, and read two books--Spotts' "Bayreuth," and Berger's "Wagner without Fear." Forget the snobbery of elitist Wagnerians--this is a great book. Berger's style is witty and irreverant, making it fun to read.
And it is extremely useful. He delivers an insightful overview and commentary on each opera--then gives tips on how to survive a performance (when to eat, drink, and go to the restroom). This is a life-saver--especially before Act I of Parsifal.
His final chapter covers how to behave at the Bayreuth Festival (hint: you can pass out, but you cannot cough). I left my libretti behind, and took this book with me instead!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Enjoyable Wagner Overview!, 25 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Wagner without Fear: Learning to Love and Even Enjoy Opera's Most Demanding Genius (Paperback)
For those new to the world of Richard Wagner, this book provides a delightful overview. Starting with an introduction to the Wagner phenomenon (in which no one is ambivalent...you either love Wagner or hate him), proceeding through a biographical sketch, then on to studies of the major operas, CD and book recommendations, and much more, this book will serve as an excellent springboard to deeper studies. I would have like to have seen more discussion of leitmotiv, simply because it is so integral to understanding Wagner, but that information is certainly available in more detail elsewhere...particularly on the Cooke CD.
Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it avoids the snobbery that is so often found in Wagner discussions...it even serves as a guide to understanding the different types of Wagner fans and their diverse (to put it mildly) opinions.
This book reveals that Richard Wagner was one of the world's great geniuses, despite his many bizarre and distasteful characteristics...but then again, perhaps it merely confirms the old adage that the line between genius and insanity is precariously thin.
This book is highly recomended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for the non Wagner expert, 5 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Wagner without Fear: Learning to Love and Even Enjoy Opera's Most Demanding Genius (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book for its warmth and unpretentiousness. I enjoy opera and am not in any way an expert so many books go way over my head. Not this book which is written as the author is chatting to you. I found it most informative and have it by my side when watching a Wagner DVD. So, if you're like me, this could be a good introduction to the wonderful world of Wagner.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars good start but fatally flawed finish, 19 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Wagner without Fear: Learning to Love and Even Enjoy Opera's Most Demanding Genius (Paperback)
Berger's witty (and psuedo-witty) comments on the operas aren't bad and may even be amusing to the Wagnerian neophyte. Where he gets in trouble is the recordings and films section. Very poor. He neglects to mention that "Wagner" with Richard Burton may be well acted but the script is so stilted that sitting through it is almost hopeless. So it really can't be recommended. On recordings, he's badly off based and rather uninformed. He says the Dorati DUTCHMAN is "live" and shows why the principals were "electrifying". Wrong. The recording is from the studio (the LP set has photos of the studio set up), not live, and Dorati's conducting is so boring that it gives no electrification at all. Berger obviously has a problem with live recordings since he dismisses the superb 1943 Bayreuth recording as containing a cast no one knows or wants to know. Really? Abendroth was a superb conductor and Schoeffler's Sachs was, after Schorr, a benchmark. He also fails to mention this was the second cast and a recording with the first cast exists magnificently conducted by Furtwangler. He also has some odd idea that members of the SS sang in the chorus. Unlikely tho they were, of course, in the audience. And on and on. The book would've been a pleasant diversion had he stuck with the operas but the rest of his observations should be taken with more than a grain of salt - the whole margarita would be preferable. In the last analysis, this book belongs (with J.K. Holman's "bean-counting" RING book) in the bargain bin.
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