Talk: Hannes Heer “Bürokratie, Judentum, Theaterdirektion: Richard Wagner und Wien”


Vienna was the city in which Richard Wagner experienced his greatest triumphs in the 1860s and 1870s and where the Wagner cult peaked for the first time. But the image of the maestro in Vienna was decisively influenced by the years 1861 to 1863 and the failure to organize the premiere of Tristan and Isolde commissioned by the Court Opera. He blamed this occurrence on the incompetence of the opera house management and the opposition by the influential Jewish critic Eduard Hanslick.
 
When this experience looked to repeat itself after the premiere of the Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Munich in 1868 – Hanslick had written a scathing criticism, and the Vienna Court Opera delayed the performance, in spite of its contractual obligation – Wagner’s dislike of the Jews turned into outright anti Semitism. The apparent disdain by the theaters of the time made him even more determined to set up his own festival theater.
 
After the scandal surrounding the premiere of Meistersinger in Vienna in 1870 and the disastrous rehearsals conducted by him on new productions of Tannhäuser and Lohengrin at the Court Opera in 1875, he broke off contact with Vienna and was interested thereafter only in how much he would receive from there in royalties.

Lecture by Hannes Heer, historian