Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Curtain, Gong, SteamWagnerian Technologies of Nineteenth-Century Opera$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Gundula Kreuzer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520279681

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279681.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022



(p.162) 4 Steam
Curtain, Gong, Steam

Gundula Kreuzer

University of California Press

Wagner’s abundant evocation of fogs and fires in Der Ring des Nibelungen was unprecedented. The water vapor used in 1876 at Bayreuth’s inaugural festival provided Wagner with his most “real” stage ingredient. Additionally, the chapter proposes, steam could mediate between bodies and painted scenery and could both enliven and veil open transformations. Yet while onstage vapors became a visual icon of the Ring, steam also drew attention to tensions within Wagner’s works and theories. Although intended to evoke unspoiled mythic nature, this novel and multisensorial technology generated smells and sounds associated precisely with the industrial modernity that Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk was to overcome. Allegorically, steam’s rendering of both fogs and fires anticipated the vanquishing of nature in the Ring by fire, the oldest human technology. Ultimately, its multivalence allowed steam to transcend both scenic realism and the operatic stage to become a cyp her of both modernity and performativityper se.

Keywords:   Richard Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen, staging, Bayreuth Festival, steam, fog, fire, Gesamtkunstwerk, industrial modernity, performativity

California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.