We went to Tristan und Isolde this evening. It is the most repulsive thing I ever saw or heard in my life. To have to sit through a while evening watching, listening to such love-lunacy till every feeling of decency was outraged, and to see not only the audience but the musicians delighted with it was--I may well say--the saddest experience of my whole artistic career. I held out till the end, as I wished to have heard it all. Neither of them does anything but sleep and sing during the second act, and the while of act III--quite forty minutes--Tristan occupies in dying--and they call that dramatic!!! Levi says Wagner is a better musician than Gluck. . . Are they all fools or am I a fool? The subject seems to me so wretched: a love-madness brought about by a potion--how is it possible to take the slightest interest in the lovers? It is not emotion, it is a disease, and they tear their hearts out of their bodies, while the music expresses it all in the most repulsive manner. I could go on lamenting over it for ever, and exclaiming against it.
[from The Composer as Listener, edited (and I imagine translated) by Irving Kolodin.]
Saturday, April 20, 2013
"Are they all fools or am I a fool?"
From Clara Schumann's diary entry dated September 8, 1875