Mary Ann Smart

in Mimomania

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780520239951
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939875 | DOI:

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This book's homage and resistance to Richard Wagner began with his voice as a critic, harnessing his animosity toward grand opera in general, and his faint praise of Daniel Auber in particular, to illuminate the representation of the mute's body in La Muette de Portici. Friedrich Nietzsche complained that Wagner's music was too static, wavelike, too antagonistic to the dance; but he also criticized its indulgence in constant nervous movement, which he associated with an excessively naturalistic style of acting. Nietzsche's criticisms can perhaps be separated from their pejorative context to yield insights into Wagner's relationship to staged gesture, and into the musical techniques that proceed from his gestural obsession. Nietzsche offers no illustrations of the “mimomania” with which he charges Wagner, and Pierre LouŸs errs in the opposite direction, reeling off a list of examples so long and wide-ranging as to make us wonder what in Wagner is not about movement.

Keywords: Richard Wagner; opera; Daniel Auber; Friedrich Nietzsche; dance; movement; gesture; mimomania; Pierre LouŸs

Chapter.  11293 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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