The Wagner Journal

Derek Hughes, Wagner’s Worst Joke

Derek Hughes, Wagner’s Worst Joke

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November 2023, Volume 17, Number 3, 25–9.

The joke refers to a recent fire at the Ringtheater in Vienna, which started during a performance of The Tales of Hoffmann, and which killed hundreds of people. Wagner had heard (probably erroneously) that the victims included 416 Jews. His joke appears to be that a performance of Nathan the Wise would have been a far more fitting setting for the calamity.

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