My Pilgrimage: Chapter Three
By Michael Moriarty
While beginning a libretto for the second opera of my Lionhead Ring – the first opera being set in the present but with the ghosts of living and very famous poets and musicians haunting it – I felt obliged to set the second creation in the 30’s and 40’s.
World War II was the horrifyingly “strange fruit” born from the plentifully anti-Semitic tree of genius living within the 19th Century popularity of Richard Wagner.
Suddenly, the Communist poet/agent provocateur, Bertolt Brecht, and his musical colleague, Kurt Weill, both wildly productive in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, became equally inevitable subjects for my second opera for The Lionhead Ring.
At the same time Nazism was being born by one of Richard Wagner’s greatest fans, Adolf Hitler, Communism was installing the sadistic principles of Joseph Stalin into Russia.
Stories out of Soviet Russia not only did not deter the ferocity of Bertolt Brecht’s commitment to Communism, Stalin’s heartless successes made Brecht all the more shamelessly Red and anti-American in his creativity. All of which eventually earned him the Stalin Peace Prize in 1954.
Brecht and Marxism began their love affair in 1920. He eventually wrote, "When I read Marx's Kapital, I understood my plays" and described Marx as "The only spectator for my plays".
At no time, however, did he pen a leading character that elicited any heroism. Not even his Mother Courage qualifies for ennobling attributes.
Brecht’s “Mankind”, at best, was worthy of nothing better than Marxist tyranny.
Here are a few of the more hilarious moments to be found in James K. Lyons’ Bertolt Brecht in America.
With the plots for nine operas to create for my Three Ring Secret?!
There’s no telling how long this dueling pair of German geniuses, Wagner and Brecht, will survive within it.
The titles for the Three Rings?
The Lionhead Ring, The Pilgrimage Ring and The Secret Ring.
Two warring tyrannies threaten the human race in much the same way both the Nazi Third Reich and Communist Russia once imprisoned Poland.
Meanwhile the simpler lives of families such as the one within my Three Ring Secret, the Dolan’s?
Not even they begin to look “simple” anymore.
No, George Dolan, of Irish and Norwegian descent, can’t qualify as “pure Aryan”.
However, Mr. Dolan’s sympathies for the aims of the Third Reich and its “no-nonsense seriousness”?
It’s everything that George Dolan’s wife, Polly, does not want to be associated with.
Meanwhile, Peter Dolan, their son, has just been born.
As the ghosts of Richard Wagner and Bertolt Brecht look down on the Dolans’ domestic conflicts, Helen of Troy, from the first opera, Wagner in Hell, was seen still hunting, longingly, for her true love, Paris.
Homer, the ancient Greek legend, in that same first opera, has been wandering the landscape with Cosima, the embittered wife of Richard Wagner.
It all somehow makes very clear sense to me.
I also expect these varying and varied tales to inspire quite a compilation of operatic styles.
We shall see.
It’s all I could ever have hoped for as the central creation of my retirement!
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.