Berlioz's final opera, Béatrice et Bénédict (1860–62) has generally been considered a light-hearted work, revelling in the simple joys of love. Yet his final development of the theme of love, which had preoccupied him at least since the Symphonie fantastique (1830), makes this opéra comique more serious than it might appear to be. Drawing on theories of the human subject by Badiou, Žižek, and Lacan, as well as on the resources of Schenkerian theory, this article invites a new attention on the ideological violence done both by conventional models of love (in this case, on the main characters in the opera) and by the language of tonality. Evaluation of the musical means by which Berlioz psychoanalyzes the characters of a masochist, Héro, and a hysteric, Béatrice, ultimately reveals a surprisingly provocative work of vivid psychological drama.
Wagner's engagement with medieval sources like the Nibelungenlied has generally been examined in relation to poetic style in his librettos. One of the defining structural features of his literary inspirations is the narrative interlace structure, which is common to literature, art, and even manuscript organization in the Middle Ages. In place of the classical Aristotelian unity of time, place, and action, the interlace design sets up a literary form based on sudden disjunctions, mysterious failures of explanation, and multiplicities of motive. These formal models propose radically different views of reality and the self: one suggests that human experience is shaped by a culmination that can already be known, the other more contingent, fractured, and paradoxically ““modern.”” Wagner's incorporation of the interlace design operates in the libretto and, more significantly and complexly, in the music. Wagner's structural and philosophical engagement with his medieval sources in the Ring may be elucidated via a combination of neo-Riemannian and modified Schenkerian analytical approaches and a sensitivity to Wagner's tendency to highlight the structural joints between his massive interlaced threads (rather than smoothly modulating, as the prevalent view suggests). The work is seen to have an existentialist, not an essentialist, view of human nature that provided an intellectual model for the artists and thinkers that grew up in Wagner's considerable intellectual shadow.