Well, I know that is impractical, and I am not suggesting you don’t deserve equal time, but I would need at least that to learn everything I would like to learn before my journey is over. It might take me most of that time just to understand Germany’s Richard Wagner.
As many of you know, I began studying opera on my own about a year ago. Prior to that, I never wanted anything to do with the opera. My wife tried so many times to get me to attend a performance, but she would have had an easier time moving a mule. However, as I began to investigate what opera was all about, I found a striking connection between opera and literature. As an archetypal literary critic, I saw similarities between classic novels and opera performances that could not be denied.
My interest was particularly sparked by a television performance of Tristan and Isolde, a tale of two star-crossed lovers as tragic as Romeo and Juliet. Not many people I know ever read Tristan and Isolde, so I was intrigued by the performance. The result was a newfound interest in something I had never experienced.
In university classes, when I stressed the importance of acquiring knowledge, I always told my students, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” I believe that. We should never knock what we do not understand. Understanding opera on the other hand can be complicated. I have a great deal to learn.
In my research, I found Wagner to be jealous, dishonest, bigoted, racist, hypocritical, sexist, and one arrogant human being. Nevertheless, those less-than-admirable qualities do not negate the brilliance of his artistic work. The man revolutionized opera.
Of all his creations, I am finding the Ring cycle, or more specifically The Ring of the Nibelungs, to be the most fascinating. To me, the impact upon the world of opera was similar to that of the Star Wars trilogy created by George Lucas upon Hollywood.
My whole point is that brilliance knows no boundaries. Right or wrong, good or bad, we should respect the artistic work of fellow human beings, especially when they enter the realm of genius.
. . .