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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Richard Wagner’s explicit attempts at composing music for (or inspired by) Faust are a minor byproduct of his lifelong fascination with Goethe. More generally, the example of Faust provoked Wagner to continue thinking about the nature of theater, drama, and the possibilities of a “total dramatic artwork,” even after he had first formulated his ideas about a new musical-dramatic Gesamtkunstwerk in the essay Oper und Drama (1851). After reviewing Wagner’s critical engagement with Faust and his early compositional responses to it (the Sieben Kompositionen zu Goethes Faust [Seven Compositions on Goethe’s Faust] of 1830–31 and Eine Faust-Ouvertüre [A Faust Overture] of 1840, revised 1854–55), this chapter proposes some ways in which the endings of Wagner’s mature music dramas might be read as attempts to realize in operatic form the transfiguration through the agency of the “Eternal Feminine” that forms the apotheosis of part 2 of Goethe’s Faust.

Keywords: Faust, Goethe, Richard Wagner, Sieben Kompositionen zu Goethes Faust, Eine Faust-Ouvertüre, Gesamtkunstwerk, “Eternal Feminine”

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