16 Mar 17

In this lecture, Hamburg-born, New York-based critic Manuela V. Hoelterhoff tells the story of the German heldentenor Max Lorenz, who first triumphed in Bayreuth in the fateful year of 1933, when Richard Wagner’s little town also welcomed Germany’s new chancellor and chief opera buff: Adolf Hitler. Until 1940, Hoelterhoff recounts, Hitler loved going to Bayreuth to watch Wagner’s proxies set the stage on fire in Gotterdammerung, the fourth and last music drama of his Ring cycle. Hitler adored Lorenz, the festival’s radiant Siegfried, and enjoyed socializing with the tenor and his wife — even though Lorenz was homosexual and his wife was Jewish. Nothing was more important to Hitler than a great Wagner performance, and for a while Lorenz thrived while others perished.