When we wish to study a role or a song, we have first to master the
intellectual content of the work. Not till we have made ourselves a
clear picture of the whole should we proceed to elaborate the details,
through which, however, the impression of the whole should never be
allowed to suffer. The complete picture should always shine out
through all. If it is too much broken into details, it becomes a thing
of shreds an
So petty accessories must be avoided, that the larger outline of the
whole picture shall not suffer. The complete picture must ever claim
the chief interest; details should not distract attention from it. In
art, subordination of the parts to the whole is an art of itself.
Everything must be fitted to the larger lineaments that should
characterize a masterpiece.
A word is an idea; and not only the idea, but how that idea in color
and connection is related to the whole, must be expressed. Therein is
the fearsome magic that Wagner has exercised upon me and upon all
others, that draws us to him and lets none escape its spell. That is
why the elaboration of Wagner's creations seems so much worth while to
the artist. Every elaboration of a work of art demands the sacrifice
of some part of the artist's ego, for he must mingle the feelings set
before him for portrayal with his own in his interpretation, and thus,
so to speak, lay bare his very self. But since we must impersonate
human beings, we may not spare ourselves, but throw ourselves into our
task with the devotion of all our powers.