Tristan's ShadowSexuality and the Total Work of Art after Wagner

Tristan's ShadowSexuality and the Total Work of Art after Wagner

Adrian Daub

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226082134

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

In the late nineteenth century, Richard Wagner dominated the German opera stage not just aesthetically, in terms of the way opera was written and performed, but also philosophically, providing the historical, political and metaphysical framework by which to judge what opera could accomplish and needed to accomplish. Tristan’s Shadow provides a history of German opera written in the fifty years after Wagner’s death, with a view not just to Wagner’s legacy as a composer, but his legacy as a theoretician. Specifically, Tristan’s Shadow investigates the way in which the Wagnerian philosophy of sex (judged by Wagner himself to be his most innovative set of ideas) provided a way for his heirs to articulate responses and critiques of Wagner’s broader aesthetic, philosophical and political project. In different ways, these composers interrogated the way Wagner brought sexuality onto the opera stage as a means of interrogating a far broader range of aesthetic issues in Wagner’s oeuvre.