What’s Spanish for “I know you speak English”?

July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment


In 1940, the famed Soviet film director Sergey Eisenstein was suddenly invited to stage a production of Wagner’s Die Walküre at the Bolshoi. Wagner was unlikely fare at this time – the Soviet Union was largely hostile to foreign art, especially that of its great political rival in Europe, Germany. Yet the signing of the Soviet-Nazi non-aggression pact in 1939 opened up a brief window for the oddest of reconciliations. The historian Philip Bullock considers Eisenstein’s involvement in the production, and explores Russian interest in Wagner more generally, asking what happens when works of art get caught up in politics, propaganda and international diplomacy.  listen

PHOTOGRAPH: Pascal Amoyel

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