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GoetheInstitute

02/08/2006

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.

Wagner's Ring cycle comes to a close in Bayreuth

"Götterdämmerung" (Twilight of the Gods), the fourth and final opera in Richard Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelung" conducted by Christian Thielemann (interview here) and directed by Tankred Dorst (more here), premiered at the Bayreuther Festspiele on Monday. The feuilletons are unanimous in praising the former and panning the latter.

Long live Christian Thielemann, proclaims Christine Lemke-Matwey in Der Tagesspiegel. "This 'Ring' will once more bear the name of a conductor. Just as we speak of the Kupfer Ring, the Kirchner Ring and the Flimm Ring (leaving unmentioned conductors Daniel Barenboim, James Levine and Guiseppe Sinopoli), people still speak today of the Rings conducted by Leon Furtwängler and Joseph Keilberth. With a hot heart and an astute head, Christian Thielemann has now taken his place on this podium, freeing Wagner from the aesthetic musical prison of the 20th century. Carl Maria von Weber, Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Strauss form a guard of honour. We're going to have to change our romantic listening habits. And we're going to start talking about the music once more. There are worse things that could happen to the world of Wagner."

Mathias Döpfner himself, the head of the Axel Springer media empire, writes a lengthy piece in Die Welt about the significance of Bayreuth and the major "Ring" performances staged by Wieland Wagner, Patrice Chereau and Ruth Berghaus. But Tankred Dorst's directing must have really bothered Christian Thielemann, he writes. "Dorst's proclaimed goal of steering clear of the wacky antics of modern 'directors' theatre' falls flat. At the end of the day, his at times charming, archaic performance is simply inconsequential. Not modern, but modernistic. When Mime looks in the mirror after forging the sword, the Wanderer looks back at him. Siegfried takes the sword and strikes a wall clock (for whom the bell tolls...) and just to be sure everyone gets the point, he also raps on the skeleton. At times like this you have to think of poet Robert Gernhard, (more here) who writes loosely: 'My God, is this the latest cry, I think I'll barf until I'm dry'."


Die Tageszeitung, 02.08.2006

London-based historian Peter Longerich says he has found new sources showing that starting at the end of 1941, the Nazi regime dropped deliberate hints about its genocide of the Jews. He published his findings, based on previously unevaluated sources, in his study "We knew nothing about it. The Germans and the persecution of the Jews, 1933-1945." In an interview with Stefan Reinecke and Christian Semler, he explains that the Nazi regime produced "ambivalent propaganda": "On one hand, details of the murder of the Jews were handled as a state secret, the revelation of which was punishable - on the other hand, the regime itself more or less confirmed rumours about the 'final solution.' We have access to a great deal of documents and statements indicating that Germans understood that the deported Jews were to be murdered. Many knew this, without knowing details about, say, the extermination camps."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 02.08.2006

Of all the 82 works in the year's largest Rembrandt exhibition, the oft-criticized copies in Berlin's Gemäldegalerie are the objects that most interest Niklas Maak. "The fact that copies often reveal more than the original is shown by Gerrit Lunden's small copy of the 'The Night Watch,' which hangs in Berlin instead of the non-transportable original. Lunden's picture shows the painting in its original form, while Rembrandt's painting was brutally cut in 1715 on all four sides, so it could fit through the doors of a small room in the city hall on Dam Square - a mutilation that completely disrupted the dynamic of the picture. If you look at the copy, you notice immediately that Rembrandt was not merely trying to create a static group portrait but a disturbed, forward-pushing movement."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 02.08.2006

Eva Schweitzer reports on the PR campaign for Oliver Stone's new film, "World Trade Center," organized by the conservative agency Creative Response Concepts, which played a decisive role in the failure of John Kerry's presidential campaign. The PR specialists did a "total job" for the Paramount production studio, which was "scared" by some families of victims and conservative opinion leaders who planned to protest against the allegedly anti-American film, Schweitzer writes. "They invited leaders of Christian organizations, heads of associations that fight for tax cuts, or economic institutes to special advanced screenings. Many of them then jumped into the fray for Stone. Brent Bozell, founder of the 'Parents' Television Council,' which campaigns for a 'clean' TV screen, called the film a masterpiece - in an e-mail to 400,000 sympathisers. And the Republican-oriented National Review even wrote: 'God bless Oliver Stone'."

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