'neath Eiffel, Herr Hitler, in abashed, matronly, pose
As Eiger's steeple bell, fell Venusberg o'erthrows
& Heine's Tannhauser- ah! there's the rub
Revenge, we, Wagner on the Jockey Club
Wagner's attempt to conquer Paris came a cropper when the Jockey Club- of which, perhaps, Swann was already a member- became incensed against him and, by their hooliganism, forced him to withdraw his production. One theory regarding the Jockey Club's animus against 'Tannhauser' is based on its members' gentlemanly habit of only arriving at the Opera in time for their ballerina inamoratas' sweating their way through the Second Act disco number before themselves frenziedly rushing backstage to copulate with those still clammy and quivering carcasses. Wagner, unforgivably, had shifted the ballet to the first Act and so, quite correctly, the Jockey Club Cavaliers, more thoroughbred than Wagner's bildungsburgertum vision of those at the Landgrave's Court, permitted no virginal Elizabeth to intercede for our Meistersinger but, sans ceremony, sent him packing.
Heinrich Heine's Tannhauser, it appears, marries Jerusalem to Athens, domesticates Venus as the Sabbath, and gets off a splendid dig at Weimar's futility- 'in Heine's poem, Venus is a gemutlich sweetheart whom Tannhauser leaves in a fit of jealousy because she is immortal and has had many lovers and will have many more. But, it turns, out the Pope has no power over Venus and so the minstrel returns to his cute little wife-ikkins who makes him a nice broth and asks after his disillusioning travels. At this point, Heine makes an equation between Venus and the Sabbath-"To Frankfort I on Schobbas came,
Where dumplings were my food.
They have the best religion there:
Goose-giblets, too, are good.
before getting off a typical piece of satire-
"In Weimar, the widowed muse's seat,
Midst general grief I arrive.
The people are crying 'Goethe's dead,
And Eckermann's still alive!'"[A]
(hat tip to Shiela- vide previous post re. Tannhauser's dillema)