‘Wagner’s Visions: Poetry, Politics, and the Psyche in the Operas through “Die Walküre”’ by Katherine R. Syer

Published by University of Rochester Press in 2014.

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Examines the impact of contemporary ideas about the psyche and neglected yet crucial artistic influences on the psychological dimension of Wagner’s operas, especially Die FeenDer fliegende HolländerTannhäuserLohengrin, and the Ring.

Wagner’s Visions studies crucial influences on Wagner’s dramatic style during the years before and just after the failed Dresden revolutionary uprising of 1849. Offering a detailed examination of Die Feen, Wagner’s least-known complete opera, together with analysis of Der fliegende HolländerTannhäuserLohengrin, and the four Ring dramas, Katherine Syer explores the inner experiences of Wagner’s protagonists. Sources of particular political significance include the fables of the eighteenth-century Venetian playwright Carlo Gozzi, the Iphigenia operas of Christoph Willibald Gluck, and the legacy of the martyr Theodor Körner, whose poetry became the lingua franca of the revolutionary movement to liberate and unify Germany. Syer’s book offers fresh insights into the historical context that gave rise to Wagner’s dramatic art, revealing how his distinct and powerful imagery is intimately bound up with the crises and instabilities of his era.


Katherine R. Syer is associate professor of theatre and musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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