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GoetheInstitute

26/07/2007

In Today's Feuilletons

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Frankfurter Rundschau 26.07.2007

"He was an actor who could incorporate mental processes, who could make them visible," writes Peter Michalzik about Ulrich Mühe, who died on Sunday aged 54. Mühe recently became known to international audiences for his role as the Stasi protagonist in Florian Henckel von Donnersmark's Oscar winning film "The Lives of Others". "And Mühe was an actor whose appearance could change with its surroundings. He could look like a typical grey East German, but later he could also look like a typical alert West German. That must have to do with a physical permeability for history and his environment, the hallmark of the very best an actor can achieve - without being able to do much about it."


Die Welt 26.07.2007

Matthias Heine looks back on Mühe's relationship to East German dramatist Heiner Müller and their work together in the GDR: "Life as an artist offered certain niches, above all at the Deutsches Theater, the country's most celebrated stage. Mühe, who was born in Grimma (Saxony), had been part of the company since 1983. It was there that the 'Hamlet' performance - about a country decaying from the inside, one that ultimately falls into the hands of external enemy Fortinbras almost without him lifting a finger - premiered in March 1990. The play became a stage requiem for the GDR. During rehearsals the cast and crew had many discussions among themselves, and after the performances they talked openly with the audience. Later on, Mühe wrote about the relationship between actors and audiences at the time: 'We'd lectured to them from up there for years on end, and they'd loved us for it and no doubt often envied us. Now they wanted more, only they hadn't yet found their voice, their means of expression."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 26.07.2007

The Istanbul-based sociologist Günter Seufert surveys Turkish intellectuals' responses to the recent election results. For instance, the writer Ali Bayramoglu: "For the first time, according to Bayramoglu, the Left and liberals of the middle class, the so-called white Turks, gave their vote to the AKP, a party to which they are actually opposed but which they supported in the name of human rights, due process and democratic reforms. Ali Bayramoglu sees the 47 percent vote for the AKP as evidence of a 'coalition for democracy.' Beyond that goal, Istanbul's liberals, the devout from Anatolia and the hungry from the mostly Kurdish south-east have few common interests." (Zafer Senocak's reaction to the election results here)


Spiegel Online 26.07.2007

A first reaction to Katharina Wagner's directorial debut at Bayreuth yesterday (pictures): Werner Theurich calls the staging of the "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg" an "impressively flat Wagner-pizza - a lot of stuff on a very thin crust (...) She took the 'Mastersingers' bull by the horns and turned the timeless signer-songwriter parable of love and social pressure into a multi-layered discussion about art. So far, so ambitious. Katharina Wagner had a whole lot of ideas – thanks to her long and detailed preoccupation with the work. But unfortunately, she tried to realise them all at once, to stuff them all into one colourful bag of tricks. The performance sagged under its heavy load – thankfully the music was exceptional."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 26.07.2007

Egbert Tholl tells the story of composer Joseph Haydn and his opera "Armida", which will open the opera section of the Salzburg Festival on Saturday. "'Armida' belongs to the category of opera seria, which even in 1784 was considered slightly musty. The text is based on Torquato Tasso's Epic "La Gerusalemme liberate" (Jerusalem Delivered), which had already provided libretto material for baroque composers like Gluck and Handel. With his version, Haydn shows himself a master of nuance. The story revolves around the knight Rinaldo and the sorceress Armida, who attempts to prevent him from conquering Jerusalem by means of an amorous bewitchment she herself falls victim to. Already in the first recitatives, Haydn allows no room for distracting applause, and devises an enormous enchanted forest scene in which the music never lets up. Haydn knew how to unhinge opera seria from its rigid framework. Yet in long stretches he falls back on conventional seria structure, the interplay between secco recitatives and arias, losing sight of minor figures, and in so doing he puts a damper on his own innovation. The result is that 'Armida' is somewhere between courtly convention and modernity. But it is modernity that triumphs in the end: the hero falters, and becomes human."


Die Zeit 26.07.2007

Die Zeit, in a bit of a summer lull, is thinking about good German. Political scientist Claus Leggewie and psychologist Elke Mühlleitner (co-authored book) ask whether it makes sense to consider English the language of science. Here an edifying insight: "Only good translations can help to slow the degeneration of the language: first, of non-English books and articles into functional and elegant English, secondly, translations of important texts of all kind that are written in something other than English. It's worth noting that these are offered by such first class magazines like Lettre International and the online magazines Eurozine and Perlentaucher, which get by on a fraction of the millions of euros that the large-scale academic factories devour." (see our feature "Dumber in English" by Stefan Klein on the issue here)

Jens Jessen is most bothered by the know-it-all Anglicisms like "service point" and "brain up" that – he stresses – are not being foisted on us by the Americans. "The language importer is primarily a marketing expert. He wants to show off his newly-acquired gems, return to his sleepy village and display his goods to the provincial duds he's left behind."

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