Anno Mungen ist Leiter des Forschungsinstitut für Musiktheater (fimt) und Herausgeber von Act

Issue 3

On Wagner

May 2012

ISSN 2191-253X

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Editorial 2012/3: On Wagner

von Anno Mungen

The year 2013 will be devoted to the music of Richard Wagner. The classical music industry, feature pages of journals and magazines, and scholarship will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the master of Bayreuth. Our present issue may be one of the first publications to deal with Wagner in the context of this bicentennial. Many more will follow.

This issue is part of the initiative www2013: (WagnerWorldWide 2013), which takes its point of departure from Thurnau. It began with the lecture series at the University of Bayreuth in the winter semester 2011–12. In June 2012 the baton will be passed to Shanghai, China, thereafter to Bern, Switzerland, and then to the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, before returning to Thurnau in December of 2013.

The idea is to instigate scholarly investigation into how far Wagner extends into our lives today, into our present time. Wagner himself was interested in what was new. For this reason, we are trying to find current ways of disseminating and, in a sense, democratizing scholarship. The lecture series is available on YouTube, and this Wagner issue of Act, the journal’s third issue, is – as always – available as Open Access.

The third call for applications for the Thurnau Prize for Music Theater Studies was held within the framework of www2013:, for which a large number of interesting articles was submitted. Two of these articles are published in the present issue. Simone Fohr-Manthey brings together a wide range of topics. She draws on Freudian psychoanalysis as well as on current theories in gender studies from the twentieth century (Judith Butler) in discussing voice and gender issues and on this basis analyzes three characters from Wagner’s Rhinegold to arrive at an original reading as well as a new type of interpretation.

The Thurnau Prize for Music Theater Studies was awarded to Hélène Benoit-Otis for a study that shows clearly the importance of historiographical processes and that meticulously demonstrates how, in the context of national debates around 1880–90, the discourse on Wagner was recharged, in other words, determined by political and national questions.

The third article was not submitted in connection with the Thurnauer Prize, yet it shows with scrupulous documentation the closeness of opera, film, and the integra¬tion of these in the cultural and social spheres based on the production of The Flying Dutchman by Christoph Schlingensief in Manaus, Brazil. Anna-Catharina Gebbers based her study on interviews with the participants and thereby has come to grips with essential aspects of this production.

Project www2013: will now circle the globe. Immediately ahead is a trip to Shanghai and the Conservatory of Music there, where my colleague Nicholas Vazsonyi and I have been invited to discuss www2013: in the Asian world in connection with a conference of lectures and workshops on Wagner today. Preparations for the conferences WagnerWorldWide:Europe to be held in Bern and WagnerWorldWide:America, scheduled for Columbia, S.C., are in full swing. I would especially like to draw attention to the Call for Papers for the final conference in December 2013 in Thurnau. The results of all of these events will be published in a single large volume, surely one of the last outcomes of this ambitious project.

The current issue contains two reviews that are thematically free. I would like to draw special attention to Saskia Maria Woyke’s detailed text, because in this double review, the format of a review essay is beautifully carried out. In this case the subject is indeed dealt with at length. We would like to encourage our readers to make pro¬posals for similar reviews. The special feature of this format is the opportunity to discuss in detail the books being examined in the context of current research concerns or of the reviewer’s personal research interest in the respective theme.

The coming issues of Act are already being planned. The next will be on the theme "Ars Acustica," for which the deadline for article submissions is 15 June 2012. This issue will be followed by a number on the theme of "Analyzing and Interpreting Improvised Music." Please take note. We are looking forward to interesting proposals for contributions.

Anno Mungen