A Conversation with Alex Ross and Tony Kushner

Tuesday, March 9 at 5:30pm PT on Zoom

On-demand recording available to ticket holders 24 hours after airing. Ring Festival pass holders may watch a recording of the event via the Ring Portal.




Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner joins New Yorker music critic Alex Ross for a discussion about Ross' new book, Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, hailed by Kushner as “magnificently realized as it is monumentally ambitious.” San Francisco Opera’s Dramaturg Emeritus Dr. Clifford (“Kip”) Cranna moderates the conversation, followed by a Q&A.

Richard Wagner is one of the most controversial composers to have ever lived and yet his profuse influence on modern art and politics is undeniable. In his newest book Wagnerism, lauded New Yorker music critic Alex Ross traces Wagner’s complicated influence on artists and activists from W.E.B. Du Bois and Virginia Woolf to Susan Sontag and Francis Ford Coppola as they try to reckon with this complicated figure.

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About Alex Ross

Alex Ross has been the music critic of The New Yorker since 1996. His first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, published in 2007, won a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Guardian First Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. An essay collection, Listen to This, appeared in 2010. His third book, Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, was published in 2020.  Ross has received the George Peabody Medal, an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

About Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner’s plays include Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia On National Themes; Homebody/Kabul; and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide To Capitalism And Socialism With A Key To The Scriptures. In fall 2019, his first play, A Bright Room Called Day, returned to the Public Theater. He wrote the screenplay for Mike Nichols’ film version of Angels In America and the screenplays for Steven Spielberg’s films Munich, Lincoln and West Side Story, opening late 2021. Among other honors, he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.

About Clifford (“Kip”) Cranna

Clifford (“Kip”) Cranna, Dramaturg Emeritus of San Francisco Opera, served on the staff for over forty years and was Director of Music Administration for over thirty years. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Stanford University. He lectures and writes frequently on music and teaches at the Fromm Institute at USF and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State, and Dominican University. He was Dramaturg for the Washington National Opera's production of Wagner's Ring at the Kennedy Center in 2016.


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