Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/61

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FOREIGN PLAYS

43

literally overrun it in their tumultuous joy, while the good humor of the masses seems concentrated in the heroic kindliness of old Hans Sachs, who stands for the profound and serene conscience of the people. Unfortunately, Wagner's drama is indissolubly linked with music, a consideration of which we have avoided, for it complicates our inquiry. I think it useless to enter into the question at this time. The musical education of the people has scarcely begun in France, and many years must elapse before its completion. Until that time let us not trouble ourselves with the Wagnerian music-drama, though we may admit that that form of German art has a splendid chance to take root in French soil. At all events, if we need music, let us first offer the people the virile meditations and healthy sorrows of the most heroic of men, allowing Beethoven to precede Wagner.[1] Wagner's plays, in spite of their grandeur, are full of unhealthy dreams, reminiscent of their source—the aristocracy of a decadent art which had reached the last stage of its evolution, almost of its life. What profit can the people derive from the abnormal sentimental complications of Wagner, the excessive eroticism, the metaphysics of Valhalla, Tristan's death-scented love, the mystico-carnal torments of the Knights of the Holy Grail? It all flows from sources tainted with neo-Christian or neo-Buddhist refinement, translated into decidedly mortal and physical action,

  1. Certainly Meyerbeer and Adolphe Adam, so dear to the hearts of M. Bernheim and his associates.