|Carl Emil Doepler (1824–1905), Costume design for Brünnhilde, Der Ring des Nibelungen: Figurinen, Berlin: Berliner Kunstdruck- und Verlags-Anstalt, 1889, Chromolithograph. Gift of Hester Diamond, 2012. The Morgan Library & Museum.|
|Richard Wagner (1813–1883), Letter to Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein including the closing measures of Das Rheingold, signed and dated Zurich, January 16, 1854. Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection, 1968. The Morgan Library & Museum.|
|Lilli Lehmann as Woglinde in Das Rheingold. |
Bayreuth production. Photograph by J. Albert, Munich,
1876. Metropolitan Opera Archives.
Sounds pretty sweet, right? But Wagner decided he wanted it to premiere in Bayreuth rather than in Munich, as agreed upon by contract. This entailed designing a theater (Festspielhaus) to his specifications and raising the money for construction. In addition to the royal stipend, this meant leaning on private societies founded to support Wagner's work, a kind of precursor to Kickstarter.
The exhibition shows what an institution like the Morgan does best. It draws on its own collection, but many objects are on loan from the Richard Wagner Museum in Bayreuth. It's interesting to see what all the fuss was, and continues to be, about.