The Freud Museum

Events Archive

21 May 2013


Performance presentation by Gerald Davidson

To mark the Wagner bi-centenary Gerald Davidson revives his performance about Freud's "Little Hans", first presented in 2009 to mark the centenary of the publication of "Analysis of a Phobia in a five-year-old boy".

Little Hans grew up to be Herbert Graf, an opera director at the Met, Salzburg and also for a time at Covent Garden, where he produced productions of Parsifal, Samson et Dalila, and Boris Godunov. Herbert Graf was the son of Max Graf, one of Freud's early circle and a famous music critic of the time. He wrote extensively, including psychoanalytic interpretations of music and opera (e.g. The Flying Dutchman) and he organised the celebrations in Vienna for the 50th anniversary of Wagner's death. Herbert also wrote about his craft in a number of books, including reflections on significant productions of Tristan, Mastersingers and Parsifal; and he introduced the first TV recordings of opera at the Met., a legacy that continues to this day. Both Max, the father, and Herbert, 'Little Hans', were interviewed in later life by the psychoanalyst and Freud archivist Kurt Eissler. Using these interviews, their respective books, Freud's case history, reviews, notices, and theatre programmes, the actor and researcher Gerald Davidson has created a stunning performance presentation of this fascinating story.

Gerald gave the first performance of this piece at the Freud Museum, where he placed greater emphasis on the Freudian case history than other aspects of the story. For the Wagner bi-centenary he has rewritten it to give space for Herbert's reflections on Appia and Heine for the Philadelphia "Tristan", a section on Toscanini's "Mastersingers" at Salzburg in 1936, Herbert's reflections on the technical shortcomings of the 1959 Covent Garden "Parsifal", the subsequent Appia "Parsifal" at Geneva, and more. All this will be enfolded into structure of the piece as it was first delivered at the Freud Museum.

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