Headshot of La Cieca

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Together wherever we go

bert_binladenLa Cieca must say that, for a chick, Katharina Wagner sure doesn’t talk much. But perhaps her reticence is something of a blessing, since it prevents her from spouting such facile generalizations as “…’Die Meistersinger,’ Hitler’s favorite Wagner opera.”  

Your doyenne has two problems with this kind of talk—Anthony Tommasini‘s, she means, not Katharina’s: the Bayreuth doyette, as pointed out before, doesn’t say much, but what she does say is pretty level-headed if hardly revelatory.

Now, first of La Cieca’s Tommasini-issues (you see, she’s already thinking in German) is the factual question of what exactly was “Hitler’s favorite Wagner opera.”  Was it indeed Meistersinger? Well, some think so, yes, mostly critics writing in English. But not everyone agrees. Some say it was Rienzi the Führer most favored, in fact, Katharina herself agrees with that idea. Other sources (you can look these up yourself) suggest LohengrinParsifal or even Tristan und Isolde.

So I think the only thing that’s really safe to say is that Hitler was not a huge fanboy of Das Liebesverbot, though La Cieca as always stands ready to be contradicted on that point. But the “favorite” might be one of several, with the question further complicated by the “fact” that Hitler’s real Lieblingsopern were the non-Wagnerian works Tiefland and Die Lustige Witwe.

So anyway, just for the sake of the argument, let’s say we have some solid documentation that Hitler said at some point or another that Meistersinger was his favorite opera. And…? What’s the relevance here? We are talking about a complicated matter of personal (and certainly not entirely aesthetic) taste here, and then assigning that taste, what, a strong political and moral meaning? Or is there a suggestion that there is something inherently insidious in Meistersinger (Rienzi, Lohengrin, Die Lustige Witwe) that, what, appealed to Hitler’s depravity, enhanced it, inspired it?

Or is it just one of those non sequiturs that journalists occasionally throw in just to keep the reader interested? (“Among Michelle Obama‘s closest chums in that third grade class were Lady Gaga and Kim Jong-Il?”) Or is it the guilt-by-verbal-proximity Godwinning so favored by the likes of Manuela Hoelterhoff both in print and in conversation? (The answer to that question, La Cieca thinks, is probably the former: Tommasini is simply not the Evil Genius type.)

64 comments

  • Sanford says:

    MTT? And certainly not the JCC!

  • Alto says:

    Coincidentally, I’ve just now read in John Hooper’s mostly fine THE NEW SPANIARDS this awful example of what our doyenne is regretting. After mentioning that Spain was not involved in W.W. II, he says, “Their intellectuals have never wrestled with the conundrum of how the gas-ovens came to be stoked to the strains of Richard Wagner.”

    Can’t get much more simplistic that that.