"Wagner in Performance" by Barry Millington

Wagner in Performance Barry Millington, Stewart Spencer

Publication date:
19 Aug 1992
Yale University Press
224 pages: 279 x 216mm
19 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


Despite the voluminous literature on Wagner's operas, little has been published that does justice to all the elements of their performance. This book, addressed to both specialists and the opera-going public, brings together a team of authorities from around the world to examine the performance history and reception of Wagner's works in Europe and America.

Essays on conducting, singing, production, and stage design of Wagner's works explore the revolutionary nature of the composer's demands on his interpreters. The book raises profound aesthetic questions about the realization of opera on the stage: the authority of the composer vis-a-vis the director and the audience; the sanctity of the text, score, and stage directions; and the role of art itself in society. The volume also considers the explosion in popularity of Wagner's music dramas and their ability to assume new meanings—on stage and in recordings—for successive generations. It looks at the often vociferous debate over vocal and conducting styles, at the origins of Bayreuth, and at the impact of Wagner on the musical life of New York and Vienna. The book is certain to raise the level of discussion about opera production generally and to enhance our enjoyment of Wagner's works in the opera house.

"I was often surprised en passent by encountering facts I had not been aware of. . . . It was virtually impossible to dislike this book."?Gary Schmidgall, Wagner Notes

"A fascinating catalogue of changing tastes."?Michael White, Independent on Sunday

"A collection of outstandingly fine essays edited by Barry Millington and Stewart Spencer. . . . Each of the 10 essays maintains a very high standard; and what a relief to find no discussion of Wagner's racist opinions. Instead there is a fascinatingly off-beat contribution about his attitude towards water and hydropathy as it affected the genesis of The Ring."?Brian Newbould, Sunday Telegraph

"This volume provides the clearest demonstration yet of the vitality, breadth, and potential of the study of music in performance. . . . Musicologists and performers will find a wealth of information assembled here."?Jose A. Bowen, Performance Practice Review