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Two Wagner Books You Must Buy This Month

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 13 September 2020 | 2:45:00 pm

It has been a few years since two books about Wagner and his work have been published in the same month, it has been even longer since both were published by authors of a certain pedigree. However, we are pleased that this month is different.  First to be published is the long, long, awaited new book from Alex Ross: 

Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music

According to the author, this is a book that examines:

"For better or worse, Wagner is the most widely influential figure in the history of music. Around 1900, the phenomenon known as Wagnerism saturated European and American culture. Such colossal creations as The Ring of the Nibelung, Tristan und Isolde, and Parsifal were models of formal daring, mythmaking, erotic freedom, and mystical speculation. A mighty procession of writers, artists, and thinkers, including Charles Baudelaire, Virginia Woolf, Isadora Duncan, Wassily Kandinsky, and Luis Buñuel, felt his impact. Anarchists, occultists, feminists, and gay-rights pioneers saw him as a kindred spirit. Then Hitler incorporated Wagner into the soundtrack of Nazi Germany, and the composer came to be defined by his ferocious anti-Semitism. For some, his name is now synonymous with artistic evil.

Wagnerism restores the magnificent confusion of what it means to be a Wagnerian. A pandemonium of geniuses, madmen, charlatans, and prophets do battle over Wagner’s many-sided legacy. The narrative ranges across artistic disciplines, from the architecture of Louis Sullivan to the novels of Philip K. Dick, from the Zionist writings of Theodor Herzl to the civil-rights essays of W.E.B. Du Bois, from O Pioneers! to Apocalypse Now. In many ways, Wagnerism tells a tragic tale. An artist who might have rivalled Shakespeare in universal reach is implicated in an ideology of hate. Still, his shadow lingers over twenty-first-century culture, his mythic motifs coursing through superhero films and fantasy fiction. Neither apologia nor condemnation, Wagnerism is a work of intellectual passion, urging us toward a more honest idea of how art acts in the world."

As a side note, Ross has produced a free audio-visual resource to accompany this work. This is available free now and can be found at this link. Book published on 15/9/2020.

Next, we have the Mark Berry and Nicholas Vazsonyi edited:

The Cambridge Companion to Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen

Again, according to the publishers, this is:

"The Companion is an essential, interdisciplinary tool for those both familiar and unfamiliar with Wagner's Ring. It opens with a concise introduction to both the composer and the Ring, introducing Wagner as a cultural figure, and giving a comprehensive overview of the work. Subsequent chapters, written by leading Wagner experts, focus on musical topics such as 'leitmotif', and structure, and provide a comprehensive set of character portraits, including leading players like Wotan, Brünnhilde, and Siegfried. Further chapters look to the mythological background of the work and the idea of the Bayreuth Festival, as well as critical reception of the Ring, its relationship to Nazism, and its impact on literature and popular culture, in turn offering new approaches to interpretation including gender, race and environmentalism. The volume ends with a history of notable stage productions from the world premiere in 1876 to the most recent stagings in Bayreuth and elsewhere."
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Join Us Sunday, 10 May To Watch and Chat: Die Walkure, Act One. 5 PM (British Summer Time)

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 7 May 2020 | 11:30:00 pm

Join us over at Twitch for video "watch party" of act one of Walkure. Meet some new friends, chat with some old ones and most importantly, watch act one of Die Walkure, (English subs). Preshow, mini-documentaries included. Click here to register, watch or view brief highlights of last weeks Tristan,
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Opera Australia launches free online streaming platform with Joan Sutherland in the starring role

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 3 May 2020 | 4:27:00 pm

Unable to perform live while the country is in COVID-19 lock-down, Opera Australia has created another way to share their performances with opera fans, today launching OA | TV: Opera Australia on Demand, a free online streaming service.

OA | TV will feature exclusive content from its back catalogue that includes the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dame Joan Sutherland performances on video and Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, plus a series of chat show style interviews called In Conversation with Lyndon Terracini and unique ‘behind the scenes’ footage.

Each week OA will add new content to the platform. The launch will feature one of Dame Joan Sutherland’s most celebrated performances, that of Hannah Glawari in the 1988 production of Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow, performed at the Sydney Opera House, directed by Lofti Mansouri and conducted by Richard Bonynge.

Also available on the platform from today, the full length production of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’s inaugural 2012 season of La Traviata, that was due to be revived in 2020 before being cancelled due to the coronavirus.

The first instalment of the In Conversation with Lyndon Terracini series with OA’s Concert Master Jun Yi Ma, reveals his fascinating journey from being handpicked for specialist coaching at age five in China, performing for President Reagan at the White House aged 12 years, to landing the role of Concert Master for the Tasmanian Symphony before being enticed to join OA by Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini.

"Opera Australia is renowned for defying international trends of declining audience numbers and is constantly evolving its programming in an endeavour to broaden its audience but the coronavirus was not part of the plan" says Mr Terracini. “Understandably it’s been devastating for everyone at the Company not being able to perform through this crisis, and we know our fans are missing us as much as we’re missing being on stage. We’ve actually been wanting to launch OA | TV for some time, and now we have the right digital platform and the time to develop it, so we can share not only our rich history with our fans, but also it’s an opportunity for them to meet some of our incredibly talented artists as well as some of the key people working behind the scenes, with a series of interviews we’re going to do. “OA has an extensive archive of legendary operatic performances. We’ve got the largest collection of Joan Sutherland videos in the world, and it’s such a great honour to be able to share these gems with her fans,” he said.

OA | TV will launch with four program categories; In Conversation with Lyndon Terracini, Opera in the Sydney

Opera House, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour and The Best of Dame Joan Sutherland, a collection of her most famous arias that transformed her into Australia’s most loved opera singer and a world-wide operatic sensation.


Note: OA | TV will not be live until midnight Sunday 3 May 2020
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Join Us Sunday, 3 May For A Free One Day "Live" Online Little Bayreuth

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 1 May 2020 | 11:54:00 pm

Bayreuth, as you know is cancelled, as are all other performances. The world is in a temporary turmoil. People are locked in or if they go to work are separated from those places where they may meet people to discuss their passions. 

And yet, we believe that it may be possible to use technology to go, a little bit at least, towards capturing the social, - and thus emotional and intellectual -  experience of a visiting a live performance - in some way, perhaps more so.   

With that in mind, we would like to do something online: interactive, social, recorded video performances of Wagner's work.  A mini online Bayreuth if you like. Indeed, we did a little mini-trial a few weeks ago with a small few people to test the technical capabilities of the platform we wish to use - with some success. We then asked on twitter if people would be interested and more importantly take part by joining in and chatting, a108 voted yes.

So, with that in mind, we would like to do a full trial, broadcasting a famous performance of one of Wagner's works - Tristan und Isolde - in full this Sunday. We will be rebroadcasting live from youtube, a performance made available there, by the copyright holders. The reason we will be broadcasting live from youtube is that although we have good technical equipment and band weight to broadcast ourselves should we encounter any technical difficulties,, you should at least still be able to watch and chat. 

We will be using a video/social broadcasting platform called Twitch. Normally considered a platform for gamers to broadcast gameplay, but in truth, it is used for other forms of the arts also - more so during this pandemic.  To watch the broadcast, you simply need to visit the channel at the time given below. However, we are hoping that you will join us in the chat that will run live at the side of the performance - especially during the intervals. We think that this experience can only be raised from simply watching a youtube video by your considered thoughts and insights. To do this, you will need to register an account with Twitch. This is free,  quick, simple, only requires an email address - any will do if you wish to make one just for this - and is unobtrusive. 

There may be teething problems, although hopefully few.  if any. You will need to bring your own ice cream and cushion.

An Online Mini Bayreuth (Test)

Work: Tristian und Isolde (Sadly, at this stage, not a Bayreuth performance)

Time: Join us at 3.00 PM BST on Sunday 3 May (Bring your own cushion)

Place:  Twitch Click this link (might be a good idea to register in advance if you want to chat but will only take a few minutes on the day)

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£400 Of Free Hi-res FLAC Download Albums For Every Reader (Including Booklets) QOBUZ

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 30 April 2020 | 9:48:00 pm

We know that things are, to put it mildly, difficult for so many of you at the moment; for both those unable to leave home and those having to go out to work in what can be very dangerous conditions. Especially for those that love Wagner we are planning something, we think is rather special shortly, keep your diaries free Sunday - to begin with. However, in the meantime, we would like every reader to find their way to some free, high-quality albums - classical and otherwise -  made available by the excellent music streaming service and digital store QOBUZ. Worth £400 they include:

Debussy, Szymanowski, Hahn, Ravel
Fanny Robilliard

Carl Nielsen : Concertos (Live)
Alan Gilbert

Beethoven: Symphonies 4 & 7
Philippe Herreweghe

Paul Dukas - Maurice Ravel - Charles Koechlin
Marc Albrecht

Johannes-Passion - Die Sieben Worte
Paul Hillier

Plus, 22 more albums. They will be available till May 15 2020.

To get them, simply signup for a free Qobuz account - no need to subscribe to the streaming service and download them. However, as our review found last year, Qobuz streaming service is also worth investigating and is now only 14.99 a month. But that is entirely up to you. 

To download, simply CLICK THIS LINK
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Das Rheingold: Coronadämmerung

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 31 March 2020 | 8:08:00 pm

This is excellent! And should you enjoy it, and you can, please give to https://artistrelieftree.com/. The gods need you!

Jamie Barton, Mezzo Soprano
Ryan McKinny, Bass Baritone
Kathleen Kelly, Piano
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Bayreuth 2020 Cancelled And Disruption To Next Two Years Program

From the festival:

In view of the effects of the Corona crisis on the operations of the Bayreuth Festival GmbH, the management and the shareholders of the Bayreuth Festival GmbH – the Federal Republic of Germany, the Free State of Bavaria, the City of Bayreuth and the Society of Friends of Bayreuth e.V. – regret that the Bayreuth Festival 2020 will have to be suspended next summer. This means that the following festival years will have to be rescheduled. In the 2021 season, in addition to the planned new production ‘Der fliegende Holländer’, the programme will include the revivals of ‘Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg’, ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’, ‘Lohengrin’ and three concert performances of ‘Die Walküre’. The new production ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ planned for this season will probably not be able to celebrate its premiere until 2022 due to rehearsal planning.

In principle, tickets already purchased for 2020 remain valid for the 2021 Festival. In order to clarify the modalities regarding concrete dates etc., the ticket office will contact all ticket purchasers for the 2020 Festival in the coming weeks.

Bavaria’s Minister of Art Bernd Sibler emphasizes: “As an enthusiastic supporter of the Bayreuth Festival and the expressive music of Richard Wagner, I very much regret that we will not be able to enjoy the performances on the Green Hill this year. For cultural life, the cancellation is a bitter loss. The long festival tradition has a high value in the Bavarian cultural state”.
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The Bayreuth Festival Suspends Ticket Sales. Longborough Awaits Advice

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 18 March 2020 | 6:50:00 pm

Perhaps it should come as little surprise but Bayreuth continues to review this year's festival in light of COVID-19. With this in mind, the festival has suspended all online ticket sales - not that there was much to buy anyway - until the end of May. Said Festival Director Katharina Wagner, ‘We are currently in close consultation with our committees and the relevant authorities and will provide you with information on our website as soon as possible. Naturally, the health of our guests, all participants and staff is our top priority.’

Further updates will be found at the festival website here as things develop.

Over at "Britain's Bayreuth", The Longbourogh Opera Festival, ticket sales have not been suspended but the festival notes, "We are carefully considering the COVID-19 guidance of March 16 from the Government. Our first priority is the health and wellbeing of our audience and company members.

Similar to other theatres, we await more specific rulings from HM Government later this week. Thank you for your understanding and patience during this unprecedented time and we will share a further update in the coming days."

Again, updates can be found by clicking here

We would also like to remind everyone that many small companies, orchestra's, quartets, choirs less known artist, etc, will be suffering especial financial hardships at this time - not all may survive as artistic groups. If you can support them in any way, we are sure it would be appreciated. 

Finally, we would also take this opportunity to ask all readers to stay safe and follow health advice.   
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How To Get The Best Sound Quality Out Of Spotify: For Wagner Or Anyone

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 7 March 2020 | 10:11:00 pm

We are aware that a lot of our readers use Spotify (many other - even better - classical music services are available, but that is for another day). However, given how "vague" (perhaps occulted or esoteric would be better words?) Spotify is about how to get the best sound quality from its service, we thought we would put together a short, handy guide to greatly improve the sound quality you can get from Spotify. Do these three things and you should get even more enjoyment from the most popular of music services.

1 - On PC/MAC/Linux, download the Spotify "App"/Client/program (delete to your preference). Apart from brief samples never listen to Spotify in a web browser. If, as is likely, you pay for Spotify, no matter your browser, music will be streamed at around half the top quality (bitrate) that it will be in its app). It's horrible! Don't do it!

2 - Of course, once you have downloaded the app you will need to go into settings (3 dots, top lefthand corner of the client and then, "edit" and then settings. Here change the "Music Quality" to "Very High" (may read "extreme" depending on Spotify's mood). Note: if you are streaming on a mobile device this will use more of your bandwidth. And while you are in "settings"  stay there. You will need to be here for the other recommendation.

3 - In settings, unclick/switch off "Normalise Volume". Seriously, just switch this off. Try a track with it on and then off. If you hear no difference, then fine, but we will be surprised if you don't.

And here are some playlist for you to test out your new settings:
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Wagner The Ring: A Synopsis In Prose, Images And Music

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 29 December 2019 | 6:11:00 pm

Just wonderful. Comic Strip art by William Elliott. Originally published at the now long gone,  sinfinimusic.com - at least the comic strip was.

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A Happy, Melchiorian Christmas/Yuletide

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 23 December 2019 | 8:24:00 pm

Its that time of year again and we wanted to say we have, once again, enjoyed your company, whether as emails, twitter, facebook comments, etc. It's always nice. We hope, you all have a happy holiday and a wonderful new year.

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Heroic Voices. London July July 4 2020

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 10 December 2019 | 7:18:00 pm

Heroic Voices
Wagner, Strauss and the rise of dramatic song

Laure Meloy dramatic soprano
Lee David Bowen heldentenor
Kelvin Lim pianist

Rising heldentenor Lee David Bowen and dramatic soprano Laure Meloy join Wagnerian specialist repetiteur/conductor Kelvin Lim in a programme exploring music for dramatic voice. Scenes from favourite Wagner, Strauss, Puccini, and Verdi operas (including Brünnhilde and Siegmund’s duet from Act II of Die Walkure), along with other repertoire by late Romantic composers illustrate the rise of the heroic operatic voice at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries.

Event Details
Doors Open at 6:30PM
Starts at 7:30PM
1901 Arts Club, London, SE1 8UE

Ticket price
£22.00 - £25.00*
*booking fee applies

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HEROIC VOICES Wagner, Strauss, and the rise of dramatic song. London July 2020

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 9 December 2019 | 1:09:00 pm

Rising heldentenor Lee David Bowen, and dramatic soprano Laure Meloy join Wagnerian specialist repetiteur Kelvin Lim in a programme exploring music for dramatic voice. Scenes from favourite Wagner, Strauss, Puccini, and Verdi operas (including Brünnhilde and Siegmund’s duet from Act II of Die Walkure), along with other repertoire by late Romantic composers illustrate the rise of the heroic operatic voice at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries.

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How Wagner Influenced The "Club Scene"

Ok, it's only loosely connected to Wagner, but a fascinating article, about a fascinating exhibition, of a fascinating subject with wonderful images. 

"Female performers made a significant contribution to the Cabaret Fledermaus, which opened in Vienna in 1907, as a realisation of the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) proposed by the composer and theatre director Richard Wagner."

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Wagner And Theology

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 8 December 2019 | 11:48:00 pm

A fascinating resource, audio lecture and article series by Professor Richard Bell. Richard is investigating Wagner's theological, ethical, and artistic interests. We think the video below provides an excellent introduction as to what you might expect.

A major outcome of the project will be a two-volume work exploring the theology of the Ring cycle, exploring Wagner's work and its relationship to Christianity.

The link below to the full series of lectures and articles. An invaluable resource. 

From section one:

Wagner was one of the few composers to read avidly in the areas of Theology and Philosophy. He was especially interested in German Idealism but he was always creative in appropriating the thought of figures such as Hegel, Feuerbach and Schopenhauer.

It includes audio lectures that include:
The humanization of God in Wagner’s Ring Cycle: The composer’s appropriation of the theology and philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach.
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Death and the Master: Original obituaries and reports from Richard Wagner’s death in 1883

Not too sure who but we would be interested in this but we thought you might be too.  The description below is from the publisher.

This exceptional collection features 22 contemporaneous, original obituaries, personal recollections and news reports following Richard Wagner’s death in 1883, taken from 17 separate publications in six countries across the world. The accounts, gleaned from the archives of music journals, magazines and newspapers, such as The New York Times, Le Figaro, Berliner Tageblatt and The Times of London, amount to more than 45,000 words. They allow the reader to gain a unique perspective of the controversial composer and to understand how the world regarded him at the time of his death. It is the immediacy of that perspective, and what it tells us of the context in which Wagner lived and died, that makes this compilation such an engaging and distinctive read. Each account is packed with many fascinating insights into the composer’s tumultuous life and the complex, powerful personality of the flawed genius who revolutionised classical music. In his foreword, Simon Heffer, the esteemed columnist on Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, hails Death and the Master as a “riveting collection” and a fine addition to the long list of books on Wagner. He writes: “The appreciations… make the perfect introduction to him and his art: reading them will give one a clear idea of his context and his stature. Not only should they serve to welcome many new listeners to his music, but they will intrigue seasoned ones, too.”

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New Issue Of The Wagner Journal Published

Always exciting. Of particular attention, I feel, is the article ‘Knappertsbusch in Bayreuth’, which reveals the full story of the maestro’s machinations to ingratiate himself - unsuccessfully as it turned out - with the Nazi regime. I think that many who hold him in high regard for his legendary Wagner interpretations will be shocked when they read this.  Highly recommended.

The November 2019 issue (vol.13, no.3) of The Wagner Journal has been published and contains the following feature articles:

• ‘Knappertsbusch in Bayreuth’ by Hans Rudolf Vaget

• ‘In Wagner’s Eyes: Casting Light on a Disputed Portrait‘ by Michael Trimble, Dale C. Hesdorffer, Robert Letellier and Gordon Plant

•’Ernest Newman in ‘’Naziland‘’: In Search of Otto Strobel‘ by David Cormack

• ‘Report on the Production of Tannhäuser in Paris’ by Richard Wagner (translated by Niall Hoskin)

plus reviews of: Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival, Das Rheingold at Longborough and Grimeborn, Die Meistersinger by Fulham Opera, Die Walküre in Kassel, Götterdämmerung in Würzburg and Lohengrin in Nuremberg; the Bernstein Tristan und Isolde (Munich, 1981) on DVD; CDs of the Hallé Siegfried and of Lise Davidsen in Wagner and Strauss

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Alex Ross' Video of the day: F**k Wagner

Not safe to be played at work - most likely. This is going to upset people. And perhaps only in German popular culture would it have relevance.  Worth mentioning, not the title of Mr Ross' long waited for Wagner book - we hope.

As an aside should you decide to google an image to use for this article we recommend you don't - at least at work or with your dear grandmother in the room.

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The Day Berlioz Shared A Pineapple With Wagner

Image: François Lopinot / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA
From The Boston Musical Intelligizer. Written by Ralph Locke

In 1860, Richard Wagner was in Paris, trying to arrange for the Opéra to give the world premiere of the revised version of Tannhäuser. In a letter probably written in May of that year, Hector Berlioz invited him to come over to dine. The various guests that evening, he promised, will share “a very lovely pineapple” direct from Brazil. And, after everyone else leaves, he and Wagner “will have the freedom to spend time together in my study.” Presumably, he meant that the two would talk about topics of common interest, such as the Parisian musical world or the recent activities of their mutual friend Franz Liszt. Berlioz’s pineapple letter has now been published for the first time, in the book under review (pp. 548–49). It was apparently written later than any other that survives between Berlioz and Wagner. (They did meet again two months later at the home of Pauline Viardot—the renowned mezzo-soprano and composer—for an advance hearing of parts of Tristan und Isolde.)

Earlier that same year, Berlioz had written a sharply disapproving newspaper column about Wagner’s musical style. Still, the friendliness evident in this letter shows him interested in maintaining an active relationship with Wagner based on an open exchange of views. The pineapple letter will, I hope, lead commentators to be more cautious when they—or we, for I am as guilty as anybody in this—write or tell students, about a supposed sudden and complete breakdown in the relationship between these two bold spirits during the last decade of Berlioz’s life.

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Umberto Eco On The Parsifal Legend

The following is the complete chapter about Parsifal, and more specifically its imaginary landscapes, from his book "The Book of Legendary Lands". This is the fourth book he has published with Rizzoli Ex Libris. It's not, we think, the strongest of the series - that would be "On Beauty and "On Ugliness". However, it is still more than worth your time. The chapter on Parsifal is fascinating and we think of special interest to readers here. Chapter made available by Rizzoli Ex Libris. Any copyright will be theirs.

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Watch The Bayreuth Premiere Of Tannhauser - Live

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 24 July 2019 | 3:42:00 pm

Thanks to BR-Klassik - and Bayreuth of course - you can watch the premiere of Tobias Kratzer's production of Tannhauser. Click here to watch on Thursday the 25 July 1445 GMT (to be on the safe side). However, this will only be available to watch in Germany. Now, should you have a VPN and change your server location to Germany? Well, that would be a different matter. By an odd conicdence, we found this article on VPNs here although we would add there are many other, equally good VPNs then listed.

Stephen Milling Landgrave Hermann
Stephen Gould Tannhauser
Markus oak Wolfram von Eschenbach
Daniel Behle Walther von der Vogelweide
Kay Stiefermann Biterolf
Jorge Rodriguez-Norton Heinrich Schreiber
Lise Davidsen Elizabeth, not the landgrave
Elena Zhidkova Venus
Katharina Konradi A young shepherd
Choir and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival 
Tobias scratch production
Rainer Sellmaier Stage and costume
Reinhard Traub light

conductor Valery Gergiev
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Where & When To Listen To Bayreuth 2019

It's that time of year again. All will start around 1345 GMT






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Sponsor Your Own Meistersinger?

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 1 June 2019 | 3:50:00 am

We reported previously, that the fantastic Fulham Opera will be staging its first Meistersinger in August this year. As you may know, FO has a long, and celebrated, history of Wagner productions, including a Ring cycle. But this will be the first time they will perform,
in central London, in a large concert hall. They will also have an orchestra, different from their wonderfully, piano-led early Wagner.  However, FO receives no grants or funding and relies on ticket sales and help provided from artists and lovers of Wagner's work.

With this in mind, they are asking if any individuals or companies would help by "sponsoring" a Meistersinger. Doing so, will not only help us see more, independent, large scale, opera productions but will give you access to a number of extras including exclusive "Friends of FO events.

For more details on how you might help, please click this link
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Johanna Rosine Wagner: Mother Of Richard

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 29 May 2019 | 12:04:00 pm

We have noted over the years how few images of Wagner's mother, the elusive and somewhat enigmatic, Johanna Rosine Wagner, ever appear in Wagner biographies. And so, we present, Wagner's "Stepfathers" portrait, of unknown date. One that Wagner described as "flattering".
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The Awakening: Wagner and Rumi

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 28 May 2019 | 8:54:00 pm

The Awakening is a short film by Ivan Maria Friedman, taking the poem of Sufi mystic Rumi and setting it to the Vorspiel of Das Rheingold.
The juxtaposition of a Sufi mystic and Wagner might at first seem a strange one, but in truth, it was  Wagner who first noted, in his letters to his longtime friend August Röckel, a link between the Ring and another Sufi mystic, and poet, Hafiz. As noted by Wagner scholar Peter Bassett, in his monograph "Buddhist and Hindu Concepts in Wagner’s Stage Works":

"His awakening, so to speak, to the literature of the east, can be traced to the early 1850s. In 1852 he wrote from Zürich to his former assistant August Röckel languishing in Waldheim prison, about the poetry of the fourteenth-century Persian mystic, Hafiz, whose works were then being edited by Hermann Brockhaus. ‘We with our pompous European intellectual culture’ wrote Wagner, ‘must stand abashed in the presence of this product of the Orient, with its self-assured and sublime tranquillity of mind.’ In 1814, Goethe had been drawn to the poetry of Hafiz and used it in his collection of twelve lyrical poems West-Eastern Divan, symbolizing exchanges and mixtures between the orient and the occident.

Wagner’s reading of Hafiz informed his ideas on a number of Ring-related issues. He wrote again to Röckel while working on his Rheingold poem, saying: ‘Study Hafiz properly. … something similar will also become clear in my Nibelungen.’ Perhaps he had in mind these words of the poet: ‘Man of self, raised up with endless pride, we forgive thee – for love’s to thee denied’.

The Persian poet also had something to say about fate and destiny that is relevant to Wagner’s treatment of Erda. Wotan believes that success, life and power are all that matters, but Erda tells him that all things that are will end; he is not the ultimate controller of his fate. Hafiz describes the futility of resisting an appointed destiny, and offers only one solution: ‘cast the world aside, yes abandon it’."

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Das ist kein Mann!

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 27 May 2019 | 9:51:00 am

If there is one line in the whole of the Ring that can produce unintended laughter, muffled or not, it is Siegfried's "Das ist kein Mann!" [Ed: for the uninitiated: "This is no man!" The rather innocent Siegfrieds first words upon removing the sleeping Brunnhilde's breastplate - he has just "rescued her from the circle of magic fire that had surrounded her.)  A line seemingly designed to trick the unsuspecting. new heldentenor. Especially, if they do not have a firm conductor or director. Or on opening night they ignore the warnings. Over the years we have seen different performers, tackle this line much differently. From the most heroic sounding, to "let's just do this quickly" (Ed: Or in the case of  Christian Franz "you really want me to sing this?)

All of this made us think it would be interesting to compare some of the greats. And thanks to Youtube, we find this much easier than you might imagine. Geeky? Without doubt. Nerdy? Would we be Wagnerians otherwise? But intriguing nevertheless. It also helps compare different conductors approach to the Ring. We fully understand if this little article is of limited appeal.  Although, it may introduce you to a recorded Ring you may not have previously considered.

But without further explanation, we give you: "Das ist kein Mann!" or "How do I sing that without generating titters". And yes, before you ask, we really do occasionally spend time doing this sort of thing.

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Das Rheingold -150th Anniversary Performance. Birmingham UK

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 26 May 2019 | 11:06:00 pm

It would seem a terrible shame to miss this one.

2019 is the 150th anniversary of the first performance of Richard Wagner’s opera, Das Rheingold (22nd September 1869) – the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing the opera on 13th October 2019 in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall

The cast includes 14 fantastic soloists including internationally and nationally renowned performers who have performed in opera houses and concert halls around the world including previous performances of Das Rheingold at Bayreuth.
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Email And Apologies

As a number of you are aware, the website was down for 5 days at the beginning of this month. This was due to an error by our previous domain host renewing the domain {Ed: Not helped by the fact that its technical team and customer services would make Siegfried appear as an intellectual. "Das ist kein Mann!"). Needless to say, we eventually gave up and swapped domain hosts.  Alas, however, we retained our email host but forgot to update the DNS with our new domain host!. In simple terms, this means we have not been receiving any of your usual emails for the past month or so.  We have fixed it now though and we should be receiving emails again in the next 72 hours - at the most.

So, if you have sent us something via email, if you would kindly email again we will be happy to read and respond if required,

As a way of apology, please, should you be so inclined, find a full recording of Siegfried below.

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A New Meistersinger Production In London. August 2019

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 | 5:59:00 pm



9 - 17 August 2019

Greenwood Theatre, London

Fulham Opera, is to stage its most ambitious project to date in central London this August: four performances of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Die Meistersinger, which is one of the biggest works in opera repertoire, will be performed in a new production, directed by Paul Higgins and conducted by Ben Woodward, Artistic Director of Fulham Opera. The production features a specially commissioned new orchestral arrangement by Jonathan Finney, for eighteen instruments.

Its high-calibre cast of professional singers includes a welcome return from bass baritone Keel Watson (Falstaff 2015) who is double cast with Steven Fredericks (Don Carlo 2018) in the role of Hans Sachs. Tenors Ronald Sammand Florian Thomas share the role of Walther von Stolzing, and sopranos Catharine Woodward (Falstaff 2016 and Don Carlo 2018) and Philippa Boyle (Don Carlo 2018) share the role of Eva.

Fulham Opera’s Artistic Director and conductor, Ben Woodward says, “Die Meistersinger is absolutely huge, and more challenging than our two last big productions - The Ring and Don Carlo - put together. I am thrilled to have singers on board that I have been looking forward to working with on this repertoire for some time. It might be the biggest, maddest project that a fringe opera company has ever undertaken, but we do feel ready for this to be our next step.”

Regarded as a leading light in London’s ‘fringe’ opera scene, Fulham Opera’s combination of ambitious, big repertoire and superb professional singers has brought it great critical acclaim. It has developed a strong reputation for its performances of Wagner and Die Meistersinger will be its sixth Wagner opera, including two complete Ring cycles, since the company began in 2011.

Director Paul Higgins says, “We can very easily recognise ourselves in the characters in Meistersinger, and we can see our own struggles and ambitions. There are so many strands to this opera, such elitism versus populism, old versus the young, those who belong and those who do not, and a community jealousy guarding its independence and becoming more inward-looking than they had been before. Today we are witnessing a rise in nationalism across the world, and in particular in Europe, and in the UK we have Brexit. In 2019 the issues raised in Die Meistersinger seem even more relevant today.”

This huge project brings Fulham Opera to perform in central London for the first time. With a cast and chorus of fifty-seven singers, it also marks the first time the company will have performed in a full-sized theatre.


Walther von Stolzing: Ronald Samm & Florian Thomas

Magdalene: Sarah Denbee

Beckmesser: Jonathan Finney

David: Edward Mout

Pogner: Gerard Delrez

Kothner: Andrew Mayor

Zorn: Phil Clieve

Eisslinger: John Rodger

Nachtigall: Tom Asher

Schwarz: Simon Grange

Vogelgesang: Roberto Barbaro

The Nightwatchman: Robert Byford

Fulham Opera Chorus 

DIRECTOR : Paul Higgins

CONDUCTOR : Ben Woodward

Cast A: Woodward, Watson, Samm (9 and 14 August)

Cast B: Boyle, Thomas, Fredericks (11 and 17 August)


Friday 9 August at 5.00pm (Cast A)

Sunday 11 August at 3.00pm (Cast B)

Wednesday 14 August at 5.00pm (Cast A)

Saturday 17 August at 5.00pm (Cast B)


£35.00 early bird. £40 from 1st June.


Act 1: 1 hour

Interval 1: 20 minutes

Act 2: 1 hour

interval 2: 30 minutes

Act 3: 2 hours


Greenwood Theatre

55 Weston Street



Click here for location on Google Maps

About two minutes’ walk from London Bridge Station
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Book Recommendation: Richard Wagner And The English

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 19 May 2019 | 4:40:00 pm

I have found myself, once again, reading Anne Dzamba Sessa's excellent, 1978  book  "Richard Wagner And The English". This is a book that charts the influence of Wagner, on the intellectual, artistic and social life of Victorian England, and in part beyond.  It's a fascinating read, both well written and researched. It's not perfect, but it gets close

While long out of print (secondhand print copies sell for "silly" prices")  It can be bought as an ebook from google play books. 

Highly recommended. A review is long overdue and will follow shortly.

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A Lecture Series On Die Walkure

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 18 May 2019 | 2:46:00 am

A nine hour, or so, lecture series on Die Walkure. Recorded in 2012

The Opera in Its Time (Simon Williams)
The Growth and Evolution of Love (Jeffrey Swann)
Contrasts with Das Rheingold (Simon Williams)
Wotan's Spear and Its Music (Jeffrey Swann)
Redemption Through Love (Simon Williams)
Staging Die Walküre and the Ring (Simon Williams)
Wotan and Fricka (Jeffrey Swann)

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Stefan Herheim, "Opera for me is not about entertaining people or giving them a good time"

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 12 May 2019 | 2:51:00 pm

In an interview with the Telegraph, Stefan Herheim told Rupert Christiansen "Opera for me is not about entertaining people or giving them a good time" [Ed: We know Stefan. We know. But despite the best efforts of many, some of us still do]. Then what is it about? "It is about bringing us together to confront our most pressing and dreadful problems. Perhaps art can’t change the world, but it can change the way that people can think and feel. This makes opera a spiritual experience for me.”

Of course, some art [Ed: Surely all, in some small way?] seems to have tried to do this from the outset and was one, if not the only, intention of the creator. Verdi's Traviata or Puccini's Madame Butterfly comes to mind. And of course, much, if not all of Wagner's work. So, does that mean keeping the message and lessons of the creators intent - if they exist? Nearly, but not fully. “I always aim to tell the story and to get to its essence, but I want to add other perspectives. Opera audiences need to see with their ears and hear with their eyes: it can never be a simple experience, and if audiences all leave the auditorium thinking differently about what they have witnessed then I have succeeded.”
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Deutsche Oper Berlin And A New Ring From Stefan Herheim

Deutsche Oper Berlin has announced that the first part of the new Stefan Herheim, will premiere, logically enough, with Rheingold one Friday, 12.06.2020. Donald Runnicles will be holding the baton. Full cast details below.

So, what can we expect from a Herheim Ring? In the interview below, Herheim gives us some clues:

"Since I began preparing for the RING DES NIBELUNGEN, I have been considering how the end of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG could look. An ending that leaves the question of the future of man, of overcoming the old order, open. As long as we are failing in modern society due to lust for power, exploitation, betrayal and violence, the RING remains an 'artwork of the future'. To find ways toward the future we must begin searching for the prerequisites for being human. This search is reflected in the drama itself, as well as in the figure of Richard Wagner. He worked on this piece for over a quarter of a century. The self-"actualisation expressed therein also reflects Germans' longing for national identity.
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Wagner And “Game of Thrones”: Where they Intersect?

Alex Ross is always worth reading, especially about Wagner.

By Alex Ross. 

When Arthur Schopenhauer read the libretto of “Die Walküre,” the second instalment of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, he found himself discomfited by the goings on in Act I, in which the twin siblings Siegmund and Sieglinde, separated children of the god Wotan, fall madly in love. “You are bride and sister to your brother,” Siegmund exclaims. The music that churns ecstatically in the closing bars indicates that consummation is imminent, with the hero Siegfried as the destined result. Next to the stage direction at the end—“The curtain falls quickly”—Schopenhauer sardonically wrote, “Denn es ist hohe Zeit”—“Because it’s high time.”

Mythic and fantasy narratives gravitate strikingly often toward incestuous themes. “Game of Thrones,” the HBO series that a portion of the planet has been watching, is a case in point. It features not only a sibling affair, between Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jaime but also a liaison between the dragon-mother Daenerys and the outcast hero Jon Snow, who, unbeknownst to each other, are aunt and nephew. The latter relationship matches the other great eyebrow-raising romance in the “Ring”—the love of Siegfried and Brünnhilde. Siegfried is Wotan’s grandson; Brünnhilde is his Valkyrie daughter. It’s not clear whether George R. R. Martin, the creator of “Game of Thrones,” has Wagnerian leanings, but the proliferation of “Ring”-like elements in his saga—dragons, dwarves, ravens, magic swords, shape-shifting devices—suggests that, like J. R. R. Tolkien before him, he may owe a few debts to the wizard of Bayreuth.
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Animated Rheingold. Operavox

While these have held up well to the passing of time, sadly, they are very difficult to buy now. Surely time for them to be rereleased?

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Parsing Parsifal: Wagner's Erotic Kunstreligion

Edition of Parsifal illustrated by Willy Pogany, 1912
From "The Sidney Undergraduate Journal Of  Musicology. An intriguing read, that does see Parsifal as concluding Wagner's work by pulling together "...multiple threads he spent his whole life weaving.". I am less convinced by this. Would have Wagner's work and thought have stopped developing? Whatever. Recommended.

Parsing Parsifal: Wagner's Erotic Kunstreligion
Rafael Echevarria

Richard Wagner’s final opera, Parsifal, is an enigmatic work that resists simple understanding both as an independent work and as a work within Wagner’s oeuvre. In particular, the themes of religion and sexuality are often addressed independently, resulting in vastly different interpretations. Religious readings focus on the redemption of the Knights and its theological significance, while sexual perspectives have focused on the overcoming of sexual desire. However, these partial perspectives lack sufficient explanatory power for the opera’s overall message. Evidently, a full understanding of Wagner’s ideas requires an integrated account of both religion and sexuality, one which Roger Scruton’s philosophy provides. His post-Kantian philosophy extracts key ideas surrounding the role of erotic love, redemption, and the sacred for human existence and interaction. This article analyses Parsifal by utilising Scruton’s framework to explore the opera’s plot, characters, and music. Simultaneously addressing Wagner’s treatment of erotic love and religion elucidates previously unexamined aspects of Parsifal and re-evaluates key elements of the work. Specifically, the interplay of érōs and agape prove to be the central dynamic of the work, which paves the way for its unique form of redemption. This sacred, yet fully human, redemption is evinced through Wagner’s music and overall structure. Notably, this holistic interpretation also provides important links to Wagner’s previous works, establishing a continuity that coherently positions Parsifal within Wagner’s oeuvre. This new exegesis reveals a renewed Parsifal that concluded Wagner’s development and completed the multiple threads he spent his whole life weaving.
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