Just back from a rather disappointing talk by Peter Conrad at the Blenheim Palace Literary Festival on his new book Verdi And/Or Wagner
Just back from a rather disappointing talk by Peter Conrad at the Blenheim Palace Literary Festival on his new book Verdi And/Or Wagner. Aside from amusing remarks about how Wagner with his silk satin underwear 'had the habits of a drag queen' and how he would have got on well with God as they both saw themselves as the creators of worlds, it was a talk which stressed the differences between the two: Verdi appeals to our 'vitality and effervescence and joy', Wagner relates to the 'demonic' in us.
To love Wagner is an 'intravenous madness', Verdi a 'benign addiction'. 'I have,' he said, 'the tonic and toxin coursing round in my bloodstream,' which is eloquent if again far too much of a dichotomy. It was Germany vs Italy, harmony vs melody.
What I asked Conrad after the event was about any similarities the two might have. He said that they had barely heard each other's music and were from such different countries, but conceded a mutual love of Shakespeare. In his talk he had said that Wagner was much more psychological, Verdi more human. I don't know about you, but I've never felt more human than after Parsifal.