Wagner: Complete Letters
Bd. 13: Briefe des Jahres 1861 - hrsg. vom Martin Dürrer und Isabel Kraft
A most disappointing year
1861 was a most disappointing year for Wagner: the Paris “Tannhäuser” premiere was a fiasco – it went down in history as one of the biggest opera scandals of all time – and, after a grueling wait, the world premiere of “Tristan und Isolde” planned for Vienna did not come about. Public opinion gave rise to the prejudice that Wagner’s recent works were unperformable. It was only towards the end of the year that the composer began to see a possible way out of this artistically and materially hopeless situation. He decided to write the “Meistersinger” and immediately began working on the libretto.
In the summer of 1861 Wagner and his wife Minna definitively broke up; after liquidating their joint Paris household, Minna Wagner settled in Dresden, where she spent the last years of her life.