Good Art by Bad People - Background Reading for Wagner at Pacific Opera Victoria

Pacific Opera Victoria will present Richard Wagner‚??s five-hour epic opera Die Walk√ľre in October 2023. Although the music transcends, approaching Wagner in 2023 means reckoning with Wagner's influentially anti-Semetic views and the legacy that they have had.

This list offers some strategies for engaging with and loving art that has been created by problematic and challenging creators.

Updated September 27, 2023
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Black paper : writing in a dark time
Cole, Teju
A wide-ranging collection of essays from a celebrated master of the form. "Darkness is not empty," writes Teju Cole in Black Paper, a collection of essays that meditate on what it means to keep our humanity--and witness the humanity of others--in a time of darkness. Cole...
Fallen idols : twelve statues that made history
Von Tunzelmann, Alex
An Economist Best Book of the Year In this timely and lively look at the act of toppling monuments, the popular historian and author of Blood and Sand explores the vital question of how a society remembers--and confronts--the past. In 2020, history came tumbling down. From the US...
Monsters a fan's dilemma
Dederer, Claire, 1967- author. 
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2023 * NATIONAL BESTSELLER * A timely, passionate, provocative, blisteringly smart interrogation of how we make and experience art in the age of cancel culture, and of the link between genius and monstrosity. Can we love the work of controversial...
The sorcerer of Bayreuth : Richard Wagner, his work and his world
Millington, Barry.
The power of Wagner's music to enchant, to cast a spell, to transport the listener to states of hedonistic delight, has often been remarked - sometimes appreciatively and sometimes not. Indeed, no other composer arouses such fiercely divergent responses as Richard Wagner. For Baudelaire, Wagner's...
Takedown : art and power in the digital age
Nayeri, Farah
Farah Nayeri addresses the difficult questions plaguing the art world, from the bad habits of Old Masters, to the current grappling with identity politics. For centuries, art censorship has been a top-down phenomenon--kings, popes, and one-party states decided what was considered...
Wagnerism : art and politics in the shadow of music
Ross, Alex
Alex Ross, renowned New Yorker music critic and author of the international bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist The Rest Is Noise, reveals how Richard Wagner became the proving ground for modern art and politics--an aesthetic war zone where the Western world wrestled with its...

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