A. C. Douglas

The gentleman who went by A. C. Douglas on the net had a wonderful blog, Sounds & Fury. The site – the & in its title replaced with and – is now operated by an opera lover who is obviously not ACD. However, some of ACD’s old posts can be accessed via archive.org. His last tweet came on July 1, 2016. One hopes that he merely abandoned his blogging project; still, I feel the past tense below is appropriate.

As far as I could understand from his blog, ACD was a classical musician and a music teacher by trad; a NYC Democrat and a secular Jew; and – most importantly to his readers – a passionate culture critic and a devout Wagnerite. Allowing for a moment that the rest was only his online persona (unlikely but possible), his knowledge and understanding of Wagner’s work were inimitable.

I learned a lot from him, without ever getting to know him in person. His views inspired me to write a few posts, of which one still looks interesting to me. Now that I understand theater better than in 2006, Patrice Chéreau’s 1976 production of the Ring at Bayreuth impresses me in many ways but not in its overall concept.

The ending of Das Rheingold, for instance (filmed in 1980), is delightful theater. Jeannine Altmeyer and Peter Hoffmann make a wonderful couple as Sieglinde and Siegmund in Act 1 of Die Walküre. David McIntyre (Wotan) carrying Gwyneth Jones (Brünnhilde) to her rock is memorable. Even the girl in white turning to a new dawn away from the burning Walhall, in the finale of of Götterdämmerung, is only borderline campy. However, Chéreau’s big picture is still wrongheaded.

As for the musical direction, A. C. Douglas found Boulez’s conducting unacceptable:

I’ve always maintained that Boulez couldn’t realize a Wagner score properly if his life depended on it, but I now think I was wrong about that. In a clarifying moment of insight approaching epiphany, I now see that it’s not that Boulez can’t realize a Wagner score as it should be realized, but simply that he hates Wagner, and is exacting revenge on him for so long having ensorcelled, and like a demon possessed, Western composers, thereby influencing, either positively or negatively, all Western music after him.

Yes. That’s the at-bottom real answer to this business. I’m sure of it.

I’m less sure of it but it was good to read the piece again.

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