Friedrich Nietzsche more than once claimed that Wagner's only true home was in Paris. This book is the first major study to trace Wagner's relationship with Paris from his first sojourn there (1839-1842) to the Paris Tannhäuser (1861). How did Wagner's experiences in Paris influence his works and social character? How does his sometime desire for recognition by the French cultural establishment square with his German national identity and with the related idea of a universally valid art?
This book presents Wagner's perennial ambition of an international operatic success in the "capital city of the nineteenth century" and the paradoxical consequences of that ambition upon its failure. Through an examination of previously neglected source materials, the book engages with ideas in the so-called "Wagner debate" as an ongoing philosophical project that tries to come to terms with the composer's Germanness. The book is in three main parts arranged broadly in chronological sequence. The first considers Wagner's earliest years in Paris, focusing on his own French-language drafts of Das Liebesverbot and Der fliegende Holländer. The second part explores his stance towards Paris "at a distance" following his return to Saxony and subsequent political exile. Arriving at Wagner's most often discussed "Paris period" (1859-61), the third part interrogates the concert performances under the composer's direction at the Théâtre-Italien and revisionist aspects of their reception.
JEREMY COLEMAN gained his PhD from King's College London and is a Teaching Fellow in Music at the University of Aberdeen.