Richard Wagner’s "Parsifal," his final opera, was created in parallel with his greatest creations including "The Ring" and "Tristan." It took him just over 30 years and several revisions before it was finally presented in 1882.
It is viewed as his most refined and elaborate work and it at times leaves people feeling that it is too profound to even applaud. In a comic twist, this bothered the composer; when Wagner would applaud a certain scene he would be hushed by members of the audience.
I couldn’t have timed better the decision to replay my all time favorite Masterpiece Theatre Classic, "The Forsyte Saga," than the week the Metropolitan would broadcast its "Carmen." I had never really considered the fact that the two works and their heroine’s were so close; more sisters than cousins.
Lasting works that are so much a part of our lives and the general culture have often had the most improbable origins; it is one of music's greatest ironies.
The arduous birth of Wagner’s "The Ring" is the stuff of legends, and decades of work, sacrifice and immense debt. Berlioz' "Les Troyens" was a desperate, singular throw of the dice urged on by his correspondence with Liszt's mistress and his lifelong love of Virgil. But what about Verdi’s overwhelmingly popular "Rigoletto"? What happened there?
There are essentially two views of Puccini. To his admirers he is one of the most beloved, most lyrical and at times moving composers of the modern period -- and successful beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings.
Detractors, however, have a different view. For all the dramatic (or melodramatic) force of his music and his undeniable lyric gift, finally he is enthralled by the mob. His lucrative populism is almost an embarrassment, and the joke he once told about his talent: "God touched me, but with his little finger," is perhaps, a truer saying than his fans care to admit.