From Romantic Music Drama toward Avant-Garde “Total Musical Theater”. Wagner — Stockhausen


This paper raises theoretical questions on the nature of the music drama in the 19th and 20th centuries. They concern synthesis of arts and mechanisms of interaction between music, words, theatrical performance etc. The paper is centered about historically “extreme” phenomena of music drama: Wagner’s operas and avant-garde mystery plays (Stockhausen). The theoretical and creative parts of the composers’ heritage are analyzed in their interrelationship, which enables us to revise some accepted concepts.
One of the main tasks of this study was to characterize the role of music in those forms of arts synthesis. Its role has been steadily increasing from the symphonized music drama of Wagner and his successors to various forms of the present-day “total music theater.” One of the driving forces of this process is movement from theatrical art as such to mystery plays.