After even the finest things in Tannhauser, the Vorspiel to Lohengrin comes as a revelation, with its quiet solemnity and breadth of design, its ethereal purity of tone-colour, and its complete emancipation from earlier operatic forms. The suspense and climax in the first act is so intense, and the whole drama is so well designed, that we must have a very vivid idea of the later Wagner before we can see how far the quality of musical thought still falls short of his ideals.
Ethical and operatic points of view are similarly confused when it is asserted that the Flying Dutchman can be saved by a faithful woman, though it appears from the relations between Senta and Erik that so long as the woman is faithful to the Dutchman it does not matter that she jilts some one else.
The series of concerts given annually in the Gewandhaus is also of world-wide reputation, and the operatic stage of Leipzig is deservedly ranked among the finest in Germany.
On the operatic scale established by Wagner such detail is simply lost.
Be this as it may, we may confidently date the purification of Wagner's music at the moment when he set to work on a story which carried him finally away from that world of stereotyped operatic passions into which he had already breathed so much disturbing life.
Erik would not have been a sufficiently pathetic operatic tenor if his claim on Senta had been less complete.
Of its three theatres, the municipal theatre (Stadttheater) is famed for its operatic productions.
This Agricola was a pupil of Bach, and a fine organist and clever writer on music, especially on operatic style, the problems of which were beginning to be raised by French writers and composers in preparation for the work of Gluck.
Every critic could recognize the structural merits of the earlier plays, for their operatic conventionalities and abruptness of motive are always intelligible as stage devices.
Telramund, again, is no ordinary operatic villain; there is genuine tragedy in his moral ruin; and even the melodramatic Ortrud is a much more life-like intrigante than might be inferred from Wagner's hyperbolical stage-directions, which almost always show his manner at its worst.