‘A fascinating idea realised with great skill, Wagner Dream joins the lengthening list of opera by British composers that urgently need staging here.’The Guardian (Andrew Clements)
‘Wagner Dream, Jonathan Harvey’s new opera, embraces so fully his long - held philosophical and Buddhist pre - occupations that it must count as one of this British composer’s most self-defining works.’The Sunday Telegraph (John Allison)
One morning after an unusually angry altercation with his wife, Wagner suffers a heart attack and passes away. Buddhism teaches that the state of mind at the moment of death is crucial to one’s future incarnation ‘the most important mind of one’s whole life’. It also teaches that one experiences a sequence of encounters in which choices are offered. Vairochana, a buddha, is Wagner’s ‘guide’ who clarifies the choices and Wagner eventually decides that his failure to compose the noble Die Sieger must be remedied. He therefore ‘creates’ the opera – and it happens. From time to time Wagner intervenes and reacts to this show, which only he can see.
The opera Wagner creates in his dying dream features Prakriti, a barmaid in an untouchable's tavern, who falls in love with Ananda, a young monk. Prakriti’s mother encourages her daughter’s desires and Prakriti and Ananda fall increasingly under love’s spell. Prakriti approaches the Buddha and asks him directly if she can be with Ananda, and though sympathetic to her desires, he informs her that this is not permitted. After a heart-rending crisis Prakriti decides to join the Order as a sister and is welcomed by Ananda and Buddha. The crowd celebrates the miraculous moment. Out of his dream, Wagner is reconciled with Cosima and asks for her forgiveness. Under Vairochana’s guidance, Wagner peacefully passes away.© Jonathan Harvey