Actress, Musical Folk Figure. A noted performer of her day, she is better remembered as the first wife of composer Richard Wagner. Born Christine Wilhelmine Planer, she was raised in poverty and at 15 was seduced by an Army officer and bore an illegitimate daughter whom she raised as her baby sister. At some point she took to the stage and had enough success that she was soon a popular and well paid performer in a variety of German theatres. In 1834 she was appearing at a resort in Bad Lauchstadt when she met the four year younger Wagner who was applying for a conducting job. Though there was a strong mutual attraction it was a match made in hell from the start complete with mutual infidelity and Wagner's jealousy and verbal abusiveness. Financially irresponsible and hounded by creditors, Wagner had to move frequently and in late 1836 he persued Minna to Konigsburg where the pair married on November 26 despite a verbal altercation at the altar. After the wedding the cycle of poverty and break-up-then-make-up continued with Minna serving as the principal family provider. The Wagners lived together in Riga for two years with Minna popular on stage and Richard struggling in the orchestra pit. Minna made her final acting appearance on April 18, 1839, and in July of that year the family fled Russia (and the inevitable debts) and got on a ship bound for London. After a storm-tossed ocean voyage they arrived in the British capital and quickly moved on to Paris. There the destitution continued as "The Flying Dutchman" flopped and no theatre producer wanted "Rienzi". After Wagner landed in jail for debts with German friends having to bail him out, the Hoftheater of Dresden agreed to stage "Rienzi" and gave the composer a position as Royal Kapellmeister which he was to hold from 1842 until he was fired for his part in the political troubles of May 1849. The loss of money and social position probably put the final nail in what little was left of the relationship, though Minna was to join Wagner in Zurich, this time out of financial dependence on her part. The great composer's philandering continued, culminating in his famous late 1850s affair with Mathilde Wesendonck, for which, interestingly, Minna completely blamed Mathilde. Minna followed Wagner to Paris in 1859 but there things were no better; when "Tannhauser" failed in 1861 the composer relocated to Vienna while Minna moved to Dresden with her daughter. The star crossed couple never divorced and Minna lived on Wagner's money until her death from heart disease. (bio by: Bob Hufford)
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I hope that you, Richard, and Cosima are all at peace now. I believe that you understood Richard's genius better than the writers have given you credit for. I also believe that Richard - in his own way - still loved you to the end. -
bwbkansas Added: Dec. 22, 2015