Prokofiev’s War and Peace, written during WWII, and clearly showing signs of the time of its composition, performed in Nuremberg in the 2018/19 season, gets another layer of historical complexity. It makes one think of these 3 or 4 layers, the representation of real historical events, the adaptation of literature, the reinterpretation of musical compositions, all at once, knowing what we know, and not know about today’s Russia. We are 200 years after Napoléon’s invasion of and defeat in Russia, and 150 after Tolstoy’s 1867 literary classic which has, as we all know, the 1812 highlights of the Napoleonic wars as theme or, in a sense, stage or background. The continuing relevance of Napoléon and the radical rupture his rise meant in European history has been discussed by historians such as Guilielmo Ferrero for a long time. (This is not the only Napoléon – Ferrero connection, though.) But what if one has not read his Tolstoy?
Well… the opera performance, very successful and convincing, also inspired a wholly unexpected online exchange of ideas.