Academic journal article Notes

Wagner's Mastersinger, Hitler's Siegfried: The Life and Times of Max Lorenz, Tannhauser in 80 Minuten, Opernparodie Nach der Gleichnamigen Oper Von Richard Wagner

Academic journal article Notes

Wagner's Mastersinger, Hitler's Siegfried: The Life and Times of Max Lorenz, Tannhauser in 80 Minuten, Opernparodie Nach der Gleichnamigen Oper Von Richard Wagner

Article excerpt

Wagner's Mastersinger, Hitler's Siegfried: The Life and Times of Max Lorenz. DVD. Directed by Eric Schulz and Claus Wischmann. Leipzig: EuroArts Music International, 2009, 2008. 2056928. $24.99.

Tannhauser in 80 Minuten, Opernparodie nach der gleichnamigen Oper von Richard Wagner. DVD. With Robert Meyer and Neue Wiener Concert Schrammeln. Music by Car] Binder. Libretto by Johann Nestroy. [Germany]: Phoenix Music Media, 2008. 804. $29.99.

Max Lorenz is acclaimed universally as one of the greatest Wagnerian tenors of all time, but his reputation has been tarnished somewhat over the years by his alliance with the Bayreuth Festival during the years when Winifred Wagner openly accepted Hitler and the Nazi party as partners in reinvigorating the festival after years of decline. Lorenz made his debut there in 1933 and became the most highly prized singer on the roster, particularly as Siegfried. Like many artists of that time, Lorenz chose to distance himself from politics and stayed in Germany for his art. He was married to a Jew and was known to be homosexual, but his artistic clout saved him and his family. While he figured prominently in the Nazi propaganda that came out of Bayreuth, he was never a party member and after the war was allowed to travel abroad to perform, including to New York and Paris. In his later years he was highly regarded as a teacher and mentor, with the American heldentenors James King and Jess Thomas among his students.

This recent documentary makes no attempt to hide Lorenz' association with the Nazis, but it docs not judge him, and it does cite his protection of his Jewish family and homosexual colleagues at Bayreuth. The focus of the film is Lorenz the artist, and the many audio and video clips of him attest to his greatness. Preeminent among the commentators are the singers Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Rene Kollo, Waldemar Kmentt, and Hilde Zadek, and it is delightful to watch their expressions as they listen to Lorenz sing: smiles, raised eyebrows, knowing glances, and lip-synced text reveal their admiration for their colleague. Film clips include a dress rehearsal for the 1934 Gotterdamrnerung at Bayreuth with Frida Leider and several television appearances from the 1960s, with performances of Strauss' song "Zueignung" and (Hello's death from Verdi's opera, in which the technique may be going but the passion and vocal beauty are still there. …

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