From the Feuilletons


In Today's Feuilletons

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.07.2007

Richard Wagner's great granddaughter, Katharina Wagner, has made her directing debut at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth with "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg." Long before the premiere she had made noises about it being time for a change on the "Green Hill." This show is a must, writes Eleonore Büning: "A big block of wood needs a big axe. Katharina Wagner, the youngest and most creative scion of the large and deeply divided Wagner clan, has taken this old Bayreuth house rule so much to heart that she ironically puts herself on stage. In the very dicey third act of Richard Wagner's sole comedy, the extras who are led into a metal container by Hans Sach's henchmen are clear doubles of the directing team: A blonde director, a small man in a conductor's tailcoat, casually dressed set and costume designers. These young people bow several times on the ramp before they're shut into the container and removed. At this point spontaneous shouts of jubilation come from the hall. Away with these bothersome crackpots! Shortly thereafter, however, those who had openly approved of removing dissenters in garbage bins were made painfully aware of their frivolity: the container is solemnly set on fire, and Sachs and his consorts raise their hands in a gesture just a few centimetres short of the Hitler salute."

Die Welt 27.07.2007

Katharina Wagner need not regret her "Mastersingers", but she could definitely improve it, writes Manuel Brug after the premiere in Bayreuth. "Seldom has there been so forceful and - paradoxically - so inconsequential a 'Mastersingers' production. One that so accurately hits the nerve of this mixture of comedy and German naval-gazing, provincialism and cosmopolitan pretensions. One that so compellingly transforms the clash between tradition and innovation in singing into the current duel in the booming art world between restorative and avant-garde tendencies. One that puts the characters Sachs, Stolzing, Beckmesser and Eva into such a clear ideological relationship. But seldom has there been a production that gets so childishly muddled, that remains so stuck in a pubertal neither-here-nor-there, or that handles the material with such beginners' ham-fistedness."

Tilman Krause reports that, "strange but true," there are still texts by J. W. von Goethe that have yet to be published. His correspondence with his son August, for instance, has just appeared in "Wir waren sehr heiter" (We were very cheerful), August von Goethe's travel journals, which includes wonderful descriptions of Berlin. "He had barely arrived in the Prussian capital, coming from Potsdam, when he wrote to his father: 'Berlin, May 8, 4 o'clock in the afternoon. We arrived an hour ago, dearest father, and I hasten to tell you about it.' That's how it goes for the entire eight weeks in which the city councillor from Weimar was away from his desk – three of which he spent in Berlin. No step goes uncommented. Berlin was, for the already alcoholic August von Goethe, whose marriage was on the rocks, what Paris was for Hemingway: 'A moveable feast.' Every second had to be recorded."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 27.07.2007

We live in a "time of new ignorance and barbarism," writes the Amsterdam-based Croatian author Dubravka Ugresic. As an example for the amnesia rife among young people she describes a literature seminar she gave last year at the Free University in Berlin. "My students - open-minded young people from Brazil, Serbia, Portugal and Germany, in short a small international group - had heard of Lacan, Derrida and Zizek, but they'd read astonishingly few books. I mentioned Czeslaw Milosz. No idea who he was. I mentioned Samisdat. Sorry. That's only natural, I thought, and started into a precise explanation, telling them that in the former Soviet Union you could only type and distribute five copies of a manuscript without being punished. But then I was unable to explain what carbon paper and typing paper were, not to mention how a typewriter works!"

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Kai Strittmatter notes that, following the electoral victory of the AKP, the Turkish bourgeois have realised that they're not alone. He quotes the bourgeois newspaper Cumhuriyet. "Columnist 1: 'Which citizens are actually using their heads? Who is acting out of free will?' Columnist 2: 'We can't count on voters giving a vote to party in exchange for two sacks of coal and 300 lira.' Columnist 3: 'Aziz Nesin (a late novelist – ed.) wasn't entirely wrong when he said half of all Turks are idiots.' Almost exactly half of the voters voted for the AKP. Cumhuriyet, one should add, once ran the headline: 'The masses flooded the beaches, the citizens couldn't swim.' Here the citizen, there the masses." - let's talk european