This Monday we’ll have a short, narrative-driven historical documentary on one of the greatest German composers, Richard Wagner and his women 

2005, 45 min., dir. Andreas Morell, German with English subtitles 


TIME: 17h00

VENUE: Howard College MTB West wing, 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251  

About the film:
Strong women played a phenomenal role in Wagner’s life and continued to do so after his death. They drastically shaped his musical work and turned Bayreuth into a legendary place. Wagner paid great tribute to women in his operas. It is the women that redeem the heroes in Wagner’s operas through their sense of femininity, eroticism and love. Fighting desperately for Richard Wagner’s approval during his lifetime, they were contenders; and after his death, the rulers of the Green Hill. Historians and experts are discovering ever more new evidence to prove that without the enormous influence and power of women Richard Wagner’s fame would be unthinkable.

At the heart of this narrative-driven historical documentary are Minna Planer, Mathilde Wesendonck, Cosima and Winifred Wagner – the wives and lovers of Richard Wagner, and the directors of the Bayreuth Festival. They are the central characters in a fascinating story of love and intrigue, of power and fame. Who were these women? What did they think of Richard Wagner? How did they fight for Wagner’s approval? How did they accompany him through the triumphs and tragedies of his life? How did they create the myth of Wagner after his death, turning him into a legend? How did they manage to gain such power over Wagner and his heritage? The answers to these questions will show the genius Richard Wagner in a new light.

This documentary, filmed on location in Bayreuth, Dresden, Bad Lauchstädt, Zurich, Tribschen and Venice, is also interwoven with reconstructions of key moments in Wagner’s life, and the lives of his wives and lovers. Psychological handwriting analysis, a criminal forensic search through the remains of the Wagner family, and analyses from internationally renowned historians and experts deliver new findings on how much power the women actually had over Wagner’s life and work, and over the history of Bayreuth.

And Katharina Wagner, his great-granddaughter and possible future director of the Green Hill, portrays her personal views about her powerful great-grandmother Cosima and her grandmother Winifred. 

Looking forward to seeing you there! 


For further details please contact: 

Dr Marion Pape
German Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
Durban, 4041
Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380
Fax: 0027-31-260 1242

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