Monday, December 16, 2013

'Pain without end!'

After attending a performance of “Siegfried” in 1989, I decided that this third chapter in Wagner’s “Ring” cycle was the most unendurable opera in the canon. The reason, I thought, was the title character’s interminable celebration of himself in Act 1.

Turns out there may be more to my aversion. A research team at Germany’s Kiel Headache and Pain Centre writes that the first scene of the music drama “provides an extraordinarily concise and strikingly vivid headache episode” – a “migraine leitmotif” that recurs throughout “Siegfried.”

More on the study from Tom Jacobs at Pacific Standard: