This is the story of two operas that display the glory of honor and the destructiveness of honor – destructiveness to others, but also to oneself. La Donna del Lago starts with hailing the glory hunters can attain by killing wild beasts, and it continues with an unrelenting invocation of the glory that warriors can reap from crushing the enemy. In the operetta Die Fledermaus, we meet Prince Orlofsky, an aristocrat who is bored, not least since his raison-d’être, namely, to be a warrior who defends his royal master, is unfulfilled. He has accumulated riches and would need war to regain his true knightly identity. Being in limbo, he cynically takes to humiliating his fellow human beings by advertising ridiculous leisure activities as desirable tokens of higher class, and he uses humiliation among underlings as his entertainment. Soon after this opera was created, World War I started, with a sigh of relief among men of honor: finally, glorious action had found a new arena! The subsequent escalation toward the threat of global nuclear annihilation made unmistakably visible the suicidal character of this kind of male honor: it leads to the dance on the Titanic. You are invited to read more here.
Evelin, December 2015