From bombastic to beloved, Joachim Sauer’s trip to Wagner’s ‘grail’ 德國總理夫婿紹爾追尋華格納音樂理想之旅 從浮誇到最愛

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 - Page 10

In his youth, theoretical chemist Joachim Sauer found the music of German composer Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-1883) “bombastic.” All that changed when he was in his early 20s with a chance encounter with Wagner’s Siegfried.

Now the annual Wagner summer festival in Bayreuth is one of the few occasions when the media-shy Sauer is seen in public with his wife, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This year, the bicentenary of Wagner’s birth, is a special one for the many millions of “Wagnerians” who share Sauer’s passion. It was the chance to talk about Wagner’s music, and only about music, that prompted Sauer to speak to Reuters.

“If you ask me what is the best good fortune in my life of course I say that I have seen in my lifespan the Wall coming down, the reunification,” said Sauer, 63, who grew up in communist East Germany.

“But the second, which comes with it, is perhaps that I now can go to Bayreuth.”

Sauer, considered a top expert in his field for his quantum chemical work with catalysts used in the chemical industry, and also in cars, met for an interview in English over dinner recently at the restaurant of the Deutsche Oper in Berlin where he went on to see Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s (1858-1924) Tosca.

“They see me all the time at Bayreuth and think I only like Wagner’s music and it’s not true,” Sauer said. He also likes Beethoven, Mozart, some of the Romantic repertoire, even the music of the 20th century, and Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi’s (1813-1901) La Traviata, which he considers a masterpiece.

What is it, though, about Wagner’s music that Sauer, a slender, fit and cordial man whose smiling countenance throughout the dinner of fish and a glass of white wine belied his somewhat dour image in the German press, finds so engaging, if not to say addictive?

His conversion occurred by chance when he came home one day exhausted, he said.

“I was studying chemistry and this is a physically hard job because you are in the laboratory, you work hard and you come home in the late afternoon or in the evening and you always needed a break. So I would stretch out on the sofa, switch on the radio and listen to this special radio program which has a lot of classical music and I was listening to something. I didn’t know what it was but I found it very interesting.”

“And at the end it turned out it was a piece of Siegfried — from Wagner’s Ring cycle.” “So I told myself, ‘You’re an idiot...you should listen to it.’ So this was how it started.”

“It never ends, it’s so rich,” Sauer added, speaking of the appeal of Wagner’s operas, which include the story of the “swan knight” in Lohengrin, the 16-hour-long Ring and conclude with the quest for the Holy Grail in Parsifal. “And they are all so very different.”

He said Bayreuth, Wagner’s purpose-built opera house on the “Green Hill” in Bavaria, is unique in allowing busy people like himself, with a fulltime career as a professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, to get away from their daily routines and pay full attention to nothing but Wagner’s operas.

This year Bayreuth will unveil a new Ring by deconstructionist Berlin theatre director Frank Castorf, who has been known to dispense with whole sections of text in plays he directs, with the young Russian Kirill Petrenko conducting.

Sauer, who enjoyed the previous Bayreuth Ring under Wagner-immersed German conductor Christian Thielemann, is keeping an open mind.

“We take the risk. The music is still there,” Sauer said, with a wry hint of humor.

(Reuters)

理論化學家姚阿幸‧紹爾在年少時期,覺得德國作曲家威廉‧理察‧華格納(1813-1883)的音樂顯得「浮誇」。但在他二十出頭的年紀時,一個因緣際會聆賞到華格納的《齊格飛》後,徹底改變其原先的觀點。

一向鮮少在媒體前露臉的紹爾,只有在一年一度於拜魯特舉行的華格納夏日音樂節以及其他少數場合,才能看到他偕同其夫人─也就是德國總理安潔拉‧梅克爾─出席公開場合。

今年適逢華格納兩百歲冥誕紀念,這對於和紹爾一樣對華格納充滿熱情的華格納迷們來說意義非凡。這是一個談論華格納的好時機,正因為只談音樂,才讓紹爾願意對路透開金口。

現年六十三歲的邵爾表示:「若你問我此生最幸運的事是什麼,我會說是能夠在我有生之年內,目睹(柏林)圍牆倒下。」紹爾成長於共產政權的東德。

「而第二件幸運的事,或許可以說是我現在可以去拜魯特了。」

最近前往柏林德意志歌劇院觀賞義大利作曲家賈科莫‧普契尼(1858-1924)《托斯卡》的紹爾,在劇院餐廳用晚餐時,以英文接受專訪。他堪稱是在量子化學研究專家中,研發用於化學工業觸媒以及汽車觸媒的佼佼者。

紹爾表示:「大家總是在拜魯特音樂節看到我,因而認為我只愛華格納的音樂;不過這並非事實。」他也喜歡貝多芬、莫札特、一些浪漫樂派的作品,甚至是二十世紀的現代作品,以及他所津津樂道的義大利作曲家朱瑟貝‧威爾第(1813-1901)傑作《茶花女》。

華格納音樂到底是的什麼特點,讓紹爾如此熱衷,甚至是上癮呢?紹爾是一位身材瘦長、體格標準、並在享用魚與白酒餐點時,始終誠懇面帶笑容的男子─這證實德國媒體錯認他是一位嚴厲的人。

他表示,他一夕之間對音樂喜好的改變,發生在某天疲累回到家時。

「我當時正在讀化學,因待在實驗室裡,這對體力上是艱難的工作。你得工作認真,並在接近傍晚或傍晚時才回家,而總覺得需要一個休息時間。因此,我會在沙發上伸展筋骨、打開收音機聆聽這個播放大量古典音樂的特別節目。而我當時正在聽一些曲子;雖不知這些是什麼曲子,但就是覺得很感興趣。」

「音樂結束後,得知這是華格納《指環》聯篇歌劇中《齊格飛》裡的選曲。」「因此,我就對自己說:『你真是個白癡,你應該聽這部作品。』我就是這麼開始的。」

紹爾論及華格納歌劇時補充道:「它好像從未結束。它是如此豐富。」他指的華格納歌劇包括《羅安格林》中「天鵝騎士」的故事、長達十六小時的《指環》,並以描述對聖杯追求的《帕西法爾》畫下句點。他說:「這些歌劇都非常不同。」

他表示拜魯特之所以特別,在於該音樂節讓像他自己這樣忙碌、在柏林洪堡大學擔任教授的全職人員,得以暫離常規生活,放空一切,僅專注在華格納的歌劇上。拜魯特是華格納意圖在巴伐利亞「綠色山莊」上,建造一座歌劇院之所在。

今年將在拜魯特揭幕的是由柏林解構主義戲劇導演法蘭克‧卡斯多夫執導、並由年輕俄羅斯音樂家基里爾‧彼得連科指揮的全新《指環》。卡斯多夫所執導的戲劇一向以不拘泥劇本中全部文字聞名。

紹爾喜歡由對華格納有深度研究的德國指揮家克里斯提安‧提勒曼,在過去拜魯特音樂節所詮釋的《指環》。對於今年的新《指環》,紹爾則保持開放態度。

紹爾語帶一絲幽默地說:「我們就冒這個險吧。反正音樂仍在。」

(路透/翻譯:林亞蒂)