Museum and Exhibit concept
The opening of the renovated Jagdschloss (Hunting Chateau) in Graupa reflects the desire of the Richard Wagner Stätten to open a new chapter in Wagner reception. Following the conception of curator Michael Hurshell, the American conductor, the exhibit’s aim is to combine an interactive presentation of theme spaces, concert hall, special exhibits, pedagogical programs, and listening and reading stations, in a holistic museum experience, providing a unique framework for a comprehensive presentation of the phenomenon Richard Wagner and his works, within a historic framework.
Aided by cutting edge presentational techniques, historically informed mindsets and analyses of Wagner’s works are made directly accessible through their emotional context, as broken down by the “emotion chip” selected by the visitor. This generates a great appeal. The message“Wagner? No fear, opera is an experience” is made clear by a representative holistic experience for the senses. This is supplemented by the interior design, giving each theme related space its colors, each theme its own specific environment.
Room 1: Wagner in Saxony
Here we find documentation of Wagner’s “Saxon” life stages: childhood, school years and training in Leipzig and Dresden; his time at the Dresden Court Opera, where his activities as Kapellmeister, as well as revolutionary, are treated. The performances of his works – along with the Dresden public’s changeable reactions to Rienzi, The flying Dutchman, and Tannhäuser – are seen as no less important than the fact that Wagner laid the foundations for the conception of his later works in Saxony. Further themes are Wagner’s friends from (or in) Saxony (Laube, Nietzsche, Röckel, Semper), as evidenced by his correspondence.
Room 2: Poetry
The creative process of composition begins. Wagner’s search for text forms, which reflect his concept of “drama” is a fascinating chapter in his development. Two basic forms of expression are compared here: rhymed verses (e.g. Dutcman, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Meistersinger) and alliterative verse in the four parts of the Ring. The sources of Wagner’s opera texts (mythology, fairy tales and legends) are noted and in particular examined in the light of Wagner’s transformative treatment of them. Passages from the libretti – imaginatively visualized – hekp explain the development of Wagner’s texts.
Room 3: Composition
In this spaceextracts from letters document the development of music scores, making clear Wagner’s compositional method. The subject “Berlioz-Liszt-Wagner and their influence on each other” is as instructive as gaging the influence of Mozart, Bellini, Weber, Marschner and Mendelssohn on Wagner. Multimedia portals on aspects of compositional technique lead the visitor into exploring the secrets of Wagner’s creative methods: leitmotif technique, the multi-hued Wagner orchestra, orchestral preludes and interludes as dramatic and emotional expression, Wagner’s chromaticism etc. An interesting side branch is the influence of his techniques on Hollywood composers of the golden era, from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, who created the “Golden Hollywood Sound.”
Room 4: Theater and Stage
Wagner not only redefined the idea of the orchestra pit, he also conceived a specific new order of presenting the optical aspects of theater; his ideas were seminal during the next 100 years of theater. Not least among these ideas was the art of the scene change, which directly influenced his own compositions. How is the “illusion” of stage craft created? Stage technology was an integral element in Wagner’s works; characters had not merely to move onsage, they must appear to fly, swim, become invisible, transform, before the eyes of the public… Sets had to be transformed “as if by magic.” Wagner’s expansion of the orchestra poses fundamental questions on the sonic balance between singers and orchestra, special limits on the placement of singers etc. How did Wagner solve these problems and how are they solved today? What were his ideas on stage direction? Wagner’s sketches for stage design concepts help explain the changes in stage technology.
Room 5: Orchestra
Here the visitor sands in the orchestra pit, looking at the stage, and at the auditorium. The composer gained much experience as a conductor, particularly during his Dresden years, which he was later able to integrate into his conception and design of the Bayreuth Festival Theater. The virtual pit installation allows the visitor to select various visualizations of the sounding music, which illustrate what is going on in the orchestral score. The virtual score explains the motifs.
Wives, amours, friends, patrons, cronies, protégés and critics of Wagner fill the audience – and invite the visitor to sit and enjoy the various perspectives, and engage in virtual conversation.
Room 6: Wagner Reception
Original documents, photos, audio and video portals make accessible the appreciation of Wagner reception, as well as hearing voices on Wagner… with particular focus on the production and cultivation of Wagner’s works in Saxony from the Schuch era until today. Review excerpts illuminate the views on his works, as they developed through time. One thematic focus in development is the relationship of the Wagner family with the Nazis, along with the instrumentalization by the latter.