Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Wagner, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Clint Eastwood

Here in Britain, Citroen have fallen back on the tired old Ride of the Walkyries for their latest promotion. So Wagner gets an outing, riding, as usual, with his warrior-woman creations. But he's appeared in some more surprising places over the past few years. How could one ever connect Jerry Seinfeld and his relentlessly unromantic Manhattan life of obsessive trivia with Wagner? The link turns out to be Seinfeld co-creator, Larry David. His "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode "Trick or Treat" opens with Larry whistling the Siegfried Idyll for his wife, and explaining to her the work's romantic background. Richard Wagner wrote it for his wife, Cosima, to mark the birth of their first son, Siegfried. He wanted to surprise her on her 25 December birthday so he arranged for a small orchestra to come to the Swiss villa where they were living. The musicians lined themselves up on the stairs outside her bedroom and woke her with this gentle, lyrical work. Larry David, of all people,knew this and explained it to Cheryl.

In the "Trick or Treat" episode, he is overheard by a militant Jewish neighbour who attacks his liking for this music as anti-semitism. After a typical CYE tangle of outrageous events and loud arguments - this time involving Halloween and toilet paper - Larry takes his revenge on the neighbour by stationing himself outside the man's house at dawn and conducting The Meistersinger overture. As my Canadian friends would say: "Larry David and Wagner - who'd have thunk?"

Dozing the other night in front of a Clint Eastwood movie , "Absolute Power", on the tv, I suddenly heard the Tannhauser overture. The movie told a convoluted tale of a burglar, Clint who witnesses a corrupt US president, Hackman, stand by while his security men murder his mistress. Ed Harris is cast as the world-weary detective called in to investigate. In one of those, "lonely cop with feelings and intellect," scene, that I thought was reserved for Inspector Morse, Harris is show, home alone, pondering the case to the accompaniment of Wagner's Tannhauser.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...