by RIP RENSE
A BOO FOR SWED
Here’s one more healthy “boo,” not for the L.A.
Opera's "Die Walkure," but for L.A.
Times critic Mark Swed, not only for being less than forthcoming
in his Apr. 5
critique, but for hauling out the trivializing cliché of the
“Ride of the Valkyries” being used in “Apocalypse Now,” and most
important, for the de rigueur reference to Wagner’s
Perhaps this very
politically correct critic felt a need to keep up his
credentials with the Anti-Defamation League, but his remark was
off-the-subject, gratuitous, and astoundingly stupid. (Is it
coincidence that the Times laid off its arts editor a couple
weeks ago?) Here it is:
"This Freyer production is not to everyone's
taste; no production of any merit, confrontational or
conventional, is or should be. Wagner’s world is highly
provocative, shockingly banal, morally offensive, emotionally
transcendental, astonishingly wise and, when wrong-headed,
dangerously so. Accept it all on face value, and you may want
to keep company with Hitler."
Keep company with
Hitler. Wow. Let’s analyze this, as Swed certainly didn’t.
REVIEWS L.A. OPERA'S "DIE WALKURE"
No one would
intelligently argue that The Ring is not a story of
how deceit, cunning, cruelty, blind obedience to authority and
tradition, racial pride/supremacy (the race of gods) lead
inevitably to self-destruction. How a hierarchy is brought down
by its own arrogance, ambition, avarice. Wagner was an
anti-Semite, of course, at a time when anti-Semitism lacked the
connotative horror of Nazi mass-murder. In recent years, it
seems that every article or set of program notes about the
composer is duty-bound to mention this sorry fact, and Swed
really went out of his way to shoehorn it in.
The story of “Der Ring
Des Nibelungen” is hardly propaganda for nationalism, or a master
race, Siegfried’s blonde hair and blue eyes notwithstanding. It
is really quite the opposite---a humanist allegory for the folly
of authoritarianism and notions of supremacy. How does such a story inspire any
sane person to want to “keep company with Hitler?”
What an irresponsible,
inflammatory, yokel thing to say.
Which leads me to the
real message of the Ring Cycle---and, as L.A. Opera
conductor James Conlon notes in his remarkably comprehensive
pre-concert talks, the real message of every single Wagner
opera: the redemptive power of love. Love. In this
case, it is chiefly the love of Brunhilde for her father.
(Certainly the love Sieglinde retains for the dead Siegmund,
which moves her to go through with the birth of their son, is
notable, perhaps all the more poignant for their discovery of being
brother and sister.)
Here, the gallant and
faithful Valkyrie knows her father’s heart is at odds with his
command that she not protect his son, Siegmund (it’s
complicated, folks), and she obeys her heart rather than his
order. This sets in motion, as she knew it would, the end of the
gods, and herself.
So here you have a
titanic act of self-sacrifice, an expression of ardent love
that overrules unthinking obedience; a statement of individuality
taking precedence over bureaucracy, conformity, authority.
That's the "face value" interpretation.
message of love, selflessness, courage, iconoclasm would
want to make someone “keep company with Hitler” is beyond
reason. Shame on Swed for taking this cheap obligatory shot and
kow-towing to the gods of political correctness. He could take a
cue from the brave and enlightened conductor Daniel Barenboim,
who recognizes that genius art is created by very flawed human
beings, and who does not let his Jewish ancestry and faith
preclude his championing of this music.
Boooooooooooooo to the
L.A. Times, and boooooooooooooooo to Mark Swed.
L.A. COUNTY SUPERVISOR CALLS FOR END TO CITY "RING
FESTIVAL" ON BASIS THAT WAGNER WAS ANTI-SEMITE. . .
WITH "SOUTHLAND UBER ALLES"
RING COVERAGE. . .
commentaries of L.A. Opera's controversial staging of
Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen."
(Feb. 25, 2009)
Rense reviews "Das Rheingold," the first in the series of
The Lonely Booer
(Apr. 8, 2009)
Rense reviews "Die Walkure," the second in the "Ring" cycle.
Also, Rense reacts to L.A.Times music critic Mark Swed
noting the presence of a "lonely booer" letting loose at
the sight of director Achim Freyer. The "lonely booer"
was. . .Rense.
Boo For Swed (Apr. 8, 2009)
Rense comments in sidebar on Swed's assertion that
listening to Wagner might make you "want to keep company
The Lonely Booer
(May 1, 2009)
L.A. Times music critic Mark Swed boos back at Rense, and
Uber Alles (July 29, 2009)
Rense comments on L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's motion to
quash a citywide "Ring" Festival on the basis that
Wagner was an anti-Semite.
Siggy Stardust (Oct. 5, 2009)
Rense Reviews L.A. Opera's "Siegfried."
Rense Rebuts L.A. Times's Mark Swed on "Siegfried"
(Oct. 5, 2009)
Rense counters Swed's cheerleading for absurd Achim