Adolphe Appia, Les maîtres chanteurs de Nuremberg: An Introduction and Translation

Cox, Cathy

The Swiss scenery artist Adolphe Appia, born in Geneva in 1862, is thought by many in the theatrical community to be a forefather of modern theater, particularly for his radical ideas concerning stage lighting. His artistic interest in stage production was motivated and inspired early on by his passion for Wagner's music dramas; evidence for this is apparent in his first published writing, La mise en scène du drame wagnérien of 1895, which includes notes for a hypothetical production of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungen. Around the same time, Appia wrote scenarios for productions of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg and Parsifal. Wagner gave very specific indications in the score for both the historical time and place of the setting-sixteenth-century Nuremberg. This specificity of time and place ostensibly limits the possible artistic interpretation of the work for the stage designer. A reading of Appia's production notes for Die Meistersinger can nonetheless serve both to gather further insights into the opera itself, and to gain better understanding of Appia's ideas through a practical application of his theories. But first it is important to review the main points of Appia's theories through a historical lens, focusing on the issues of theatrical production to which he was reacting.



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Columbia University
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March 30, 2015