Michel Leiris—The Impossible Wagner


More than anyone else, Wagner set nearly impossible performance standards for himself: the The Ring of the Nibelung, for example, would require interpreters "as beautiful as gods" (while Wagnerian singers, who need considerable vocal means, are more often than not of monstrous size), and should have costumes and sets created by an artist of exceptional taste and imagination, as this series of "total operas" not only brings into play elements of the fantastic which are taken much too seriously to be anything but ridiculous, but also has to attain from all points of view the level of the sublime to which the listener/spectator is expressly invited to expect.