The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

 
 
 
Princess Pauline Metternich

Princess Pauline Metternich


Princess Pauline von Metternich was an early champion of the works of Wagner. In 1861 she organised the Parisian première of his opera Tannhäuser, a fiasco which became one of the greatest music scandals of the nineteenth century. At that time, every work presented at the Paris Opéra had to include a short ballet, as a divertissement for the gentlemen of the Jockey Club, many of whom chose their mistresses from among the dancers of the corps de ballet. Their custom was to arrive at the Opéra only in time for the ballet sequence in Act II, having previously dined, and then to leave immediately after the ballet ended. Wagner agreed under duress to include a ballet in his work, but placed it in the first act, where it at least made some dramatic sense. Furious at this interference in their comfortable arrangement, and resenting Pauline’s ‘Austrian interference,’ the members of the Club orchestrated barracking from the audience, with whistles and catcalls, despite the presence of the Emperor and Empress. On the third night, this uproar caused several interruptions of up to fifteen minutes at a time. As a result, Wagner withdrew the opera after only three performances, his hopes of establishing himself in Paris shattered. Pauline considered it a personal humiliation.

Photographed by Disdéri of Paris.


 

Code: 125765
 
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© Paul Frecker 2018