Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Lighter Side of Wagner

You didn’t think there was one, did you? you’re right of course, but performances of Wagner certainly lend themselves to pantomimic hilarity. Before I hit you with the continuation of that serious stuff about the Tristan Chord I’ll just mention one.

In Wagner’s opera ‘Lohengrin’ our hero first appears borne onstage by a swan. (Yes I know.) The usual arrangement is that some sort of boat-like fairground-type swan is drawn across from (say) stage left to stage right, fairly far upstage, by a cable in a concealed track in the stage floor. On one occasion a famous tenor came dashing into the wings a few moments too late; the cue had been given and the swan, empty, was trundling across stage. Our tenor turned to a stagehand and said ‘Excuse me, do you happen to know what time the next swan leaves?’

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