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Ludwig Weber/Beecham Götterdämmerung live 1936

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 31 October 2011 | 8:03:00 pm

"Hier sitz' ich zur wacht"
Hagen, Act 1
London Philharmonic Orchestra
sir Thomas Beecham, Conductor
Recorded Live, 29 May 1936

Hagen, Act 3
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham, Conductor
Recorded Live, 29 May 1936

Ludwig Weber was among the great basses of the twentieth century. His voluminous and beautiful voice, at once dark and imposing, was flexible enough to make him a superb Osmin, while its soaring top allowed him to fashion climaxes that were shattering in their impact. His soft singing, based on an unfailing legato, added a dimension to his art beyond that of many other singers, regardless of vocal register. He was a protean artist, menacing in roles of villainous intent, while flooding the stage with an incomparable humanity in parts needing spiritual depth. During the post-WWII reopening season of the Bayreuth Festival, for example, he was both a warmly compassionate Gurnemanz in Parsifal and the very embodiment of implacable evil as Hagen in Götterdämmerung (both captured on recording).

Weber originally considered a career as a painter, but his splendid voice caused him to rethink that direction and concentrate on a career in music instead. In 1919, he began studies with Alfred Boruttau in Vienna and the following year he made his debut at the Vienna Volksoper as Fiorello in Rossini's Barbiere di Siviglia. In the 1920s, he sang at both Düsseldorf and Cologne before being engaged for the Munich Wagner Festival in 1931. His impressive voice and authoritative interpretations led to his engagement as a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper in 1933 and Weber spent nearly two decades in Munich singing many of the largest roles in the bass repertory. He sang the role of Holsteiner, Commandant of the Enemy Army in the 1938 premiere of Strauss' Friedenstag at Munich. From 1945 until his retirement, Weber was a member of the Vienna Staatsoper.

Beginning in 1936, Weber established an association with opera in London. His Pogner in the opening night Meistersinger (April 27) was found somewhat severe, but his noble voice and superb acting were found highly commendable. Two nights later, Weber's Gurnemanz drew from critic Ernest Newman the opinion that his performance was unsurpassable. In other Wagner operas, Weber was complimented for his powerful Hunding and for his "superbly Mephistophelean Hagen." The following year, Weber returned to add Daland and to repeat his King Marke in Tristan, singled out for its originality and depth. For the 1938 London season, Weber added his richly detailed Rocco in Fidelio and his slyly acted Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, singing the role with "consummate ease."

The Second World War made Weber unavailable to London for the duration, but he made a welcome return in 1947 with the Vienna Staatsoper, singing the Commendatore in Don Giovanni and Rocco. When he rejoined the London company (now the Royal Opera House) for the 1949 - 1950 season, it was to dominate the Ring with his superlative singing and acting.

During his years in Munich and Vienna, Weber's Baron Ochs in Rosenkavalier ripened to a level second only to Richard Mayr's and his Boris was legendary. At the Salzburg Festival in 1947, he was part of a star-studded cast in the premiere of Gottfried von Einem's Dantons Tod. It was at Bayreuth, however, that Weber found artistic immortality, blending his eminence and experience with Wieland Wagner's vision to create unsurpassed realizations of Wagner's bass roles.

While Weber's top and bottom registers remained virtually unimpaired until his retirement, increasing unsteadiness and wayward intonation plagued his middle voice. These old-age failings, however, cannot detract from Weber's reputation as an artist of the highest ranking.

Erik Eriksson - All Music. More
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Bayreuth 2013: First Rienzi, then Das Liebesverbot and now Wagner goes rap

A little late but seems not everyone has heard: 2013 is obviously a big year for Wagner, and the Green Hill will not be missing a beat: a new Ring Cycle, collaborating with Leipzig on productions of Rienzi, then Das Liebesverbot (alas, not on the Green Hill itself - what would Bayreuth's acoustics do with that overture?). But now Katharina Wagner has announced her piece de resistance, she will be inviting "young people" to produce a rap based on one of the masters "librettos". I can't wait. But hang on a minute! Doesn't she know it's already been done?

Das Liebesverbot

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Video: Hans Knappertsbusch Conducting at Bayreuth 1959

In the pit plus, I think, the Flower Maidens backstage. Short, but interesting. However, because it is so short, have four minutes of Knap rehearsing Meistersingers at Bayreuth in 1960

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Bayreuth 1960

E. Grümmer, soprano, Eva
E. Schärtel, mezzo, Magdalena
J. Greindl, baritono-bajo, Sachs
W. Windgassen, tenor, Walther
K. Schmitt-Walter, bajo, Beckmesser
T. Adam, bajo, Pogner
G. Stolze, tenor, David

Coro y Orquesta del Festival de Bayreuth, 1960
Dirección: H. Knappertsbusch
Dirección del Coro: Wilhem Pitz
Dirección de Escena: Wieland Wagner

Ok, and as an "Easter egg" have  Bayreuth rehearsals for Rheingold 1965 - with Bohm

23. Theo Adam, William Olvis, Ursula Boese, Wieland Wagner (dir)
24. Karl Böhm
25. Wolfgang Windgassen, Alfred Walter (p)
26. Wolfgang Windgassen, Erwin Wohlfahrt, Theo Adam, Gustav Neidlinger,
Wieland Wagner (dir)
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L. Suthaus & L. Rysanek "From Winterstürme to End of Act I" Die Walküre

Least we forget

Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond to End of
Act I from Die Walküre
Leonie Rysanek (Sieglinde)
Ludwig Suthaus (Siegmund)
Wiener Philharmoniker
Wilhelm Furtwängler, conductor

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MET Siegfried 2011 : Review round-up (With Added Video and Images)

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 30 October 2011 | 8:59:00 pm

As some will be aware, I had to go to sleep during the METs premiere of Siegfried. Now, this wasn't the productions fault but due to a large time difference and a busy schedule the following day. But what of those in NY, did they manage to stay awake and if they did what did they think? 


So, let us start with Lepage's grand idea. Now I have to say, I really wanted to like this production, especially considering what has been happening with Wagner productions at an other large opera house that shall remain nameless. Alas, having seen Walkure I - for whatever that is worth - was not overly impressed. During the performance I had the feeling that I was watching a concert production (although the lighting is wonderful). For all its novelty, size, and -  lets be honest - noise it adds very little to the production. One is reminded of a semi-staged production that utilizes video projections - albeit on a very large screen. However, Lepage had more than hinted at changes this time - no less than a Ring in 3d! (Whatever, you might make of such a seemingly redundant concept as "3d theatre"). So, with this in mind what did our critics make of it all?

Anthony Tommasini New York Times (NYT) starts off by seeming to be impressed by the whole spectacle:
In this “Siegfried” Mr. Lepage makes the most effective use so far of the malleable “Ring” set, called the machine (a 45-ton apparatus with movable planks on a crossbar). There are jarring moments when moving pieces creak into place. But for the most part the planks form stable surfaces for Pedro Pires’s inventive video images, especially in Act II, set in the depths of the forest, with verdant trees and flowing streams.
Well, there we go, all seems right this time and so...oh, wait a minute, next paragraph:

The most annoying element of the production came in Act I, in which Mime’s dwelling and forge are placed in a sunken area toward the rear of the stage. Mr. Lepage’s penchant for sunken enclaves, also a problem in Act I of “Walküre” last season, is baffling. Here he has the imposing Mr. Terfel as his Wanderer, and in crucial moments he visually cuts off this charismatic singer at the knees. What a difference in Act II, when the characters sang mostly from the flat boards at the front of the stage.
Ok, just the first act is problematic. That's not too bad lets...oh dear, there's more:

For all its niftiness, the machine, which has a history of malfunctioning, is too distracting. In Act III, during the scene change to a mountain summit, besides all the creaking, there were crashing sounds from backstage, which took attention away from the glorious orchestra.

And MIKE SILVERMAN - The Associated Press (AP) did you like it?

Lepage has been criticized in previous installments for allowing his massive set to circumscribe the movements of the singers. That's still true to some extent, though he may be learning from his mistakes
.So, it's all good then? No?

The Act 1 forest cave where Mime the dwarf has reared the young hero Siegfried is scrunched back on one side into a trough behind the apron (similar to Hunding's hut in Act 1 of "Die Walkuere"). It lessens the impact of the climactic sword-forging scene and means that to move between the cave and a hillside, the singers have to keep climbing up and down an awkward set of steps.

Well, that is problematic and the rest of the opera?

...Acts 2 and 3, Lepage opens up the apron, giving room for more natural interplay among the characters. As a result, the final scene — in which Siegfried climbs through a ring of magic fire to awaken the sleeping Bruennhilde on a mountaintop — is both visually stunning and dramatically engrossing, even without any 3-D.

No mention of the noise from the thing then?

But what about James Jorden - New York Post (NYP). Could you hear what was going on? James? James? JAMES!!

Though Lepage’s main scenic unit, the cranky 45-ton “machine” set, didn’t delay the show as it did for last season’s HD telecast of “Die Walküre,” it drowned out the ethereal orchestra prelude to the final scene with enough clanking for a demolition derby

Perhaps Mike was in the cheap seats far back and couldn't hear the noise? Ok, James, but apart from the noise it was stimulating a production?

If the long evening dragged, blame Robert Lepage’s scatterbrained production, which lacked any intellectual point of view. Breathtaking visuals — a moonlit lake that magically congealed into a jagged glacier — left the singers stranded on a narrow ledge downstage. The worst misfire was the dragon Fafner, who was about as terrifying as a balloon from the Macy’s parade.

Well, all productions struggle with poor old Fafner.

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim - Classical Review (CR), what did you think?

In this installment, the monster set has been tamed, programmed to remain static for hours at a time, leaving the singers to scramble around empty surfaces.

Sounds good, or does it?

With a quality cast, that’s not all bad. For Wagnerites weary of the iconoclastic urges of modern regietheater, Lepage’s Ring, for all its advertised technological genius, is a refuge. A sword is simply a sword – even when Siegfried uses it to disarm the sleeping Brünnhilde.

Not "interpretive" then? That can't be a bad thing, but it remains intellectually astute then? A deep, if direct, penetration of the text?

It’s not that Lepage shies away from the work’s sexual and psychological layers: he just doesn’t see any.
Surely someone has good things to say? David Finkle - Theater Mania (TM)?

For their production of Siegfried, Lepage and Fillion have wisely scaled back the death-defying challenges that characterized their Met stagings of Das Rheingold and Die Valkyure. It's not that the collaborators have completely disassembled the obstacle course presented by those humungous, stage-filling seesaw planks of theirs that sometimes resemble three ranks of keyboards where the black and white keys have blended into a lulling grey. They've simply shifted the apparatus so it remains in workable place -- and video artist Pedro Pires projects his stunning images of lush forests, rodents and reptiles moving across tree roots, and leaping flames.
And the benefits of that Dave?

This allows the audience to more fully focus on the singers
Ok, so the production has got a bad time of it, but what of the cast?


Maybe it is because I am getting old, but there seems to be a definite trend with opera reviewers to spend the majority of the review on the production and little on the actual vocal performance. So bad is this, that in this roundup, only 3 of the reviewers even mention Mojca Erdmann's, Forest Bird. Considering that more people will have listened to this performance on their computers then seen it (and this will continue to be the case with the radio broadcasts latter on), this seems somewhat excessive. It is of course difficult to describe and review music but surely it is worth the effort?

With this in mind I present the reviewers thought without any interpretation - if they can't be bothered neither can I and to be honest (with a few exceptions) the comments are bland and boring and I haven't the heart.

Jay Hunter Morris, : Siegfried

... Jay Hunter Morris, who sang the title role of “Siegfried” this summer in a new production of the “Ring” at the San Francisco Operaand gave a creditable account. At the Met on Thursday he was better still, a quite decent Siegfried, which is a real achievement. (NYT)
Though Mr. Morris, who looked strong and youthful, does not have a big voice, he made up in energy what he lacked in power. His singing was admirably clean and honest (NYT)

American tenor Jay Hunter Morris does not possess the lung power of a true Wagnerian heldentenor, but his bright, lyrical voice and winning stage presence made him a most appealing young Siegfried. To say that he got through the long evening with little sign of vocal fatigue is high praise indeed. (AP)

Morris brandished a bright, lyric voice that pierced Wagner’s massive orchestrations. Tall, blond and broad-shouldered, the tenor — who started on Broadway in 1995’s “Master Class” — even looked the part of a Teutonic dragon slayer. (NYP)

...filled the heroic part with remarkable grace. There is a natural quality to his singing that produces an evenly luminous, unforced, sound. His forest scene in Act II, where Siegfried reflects on the mother he never knew, was lush and dreamy. There was a sense of him singing from inside the music rather than wrestling with it – even when his voice started to fray in the final act (CR)

Jay Hunter Morris, filling in for the ailing Gary Lehman, nicely distinguishes himself in the title role. The slim, athletic-looking Morris -- in Francois St-Aubin's lightweight armor and with Siegfried's early-days mullet streaming down his back -- began tentatively. It wasn't long, though, before he drew convincingly on a warmly robust tenor that went a commendable way toward making understandable -- and winning -- young Siegfried (TM)

Bryn Terfel: Wanderer

Whether ranting or brooding, Mr. Terfel sang with chilling intensity and power. If the visceral emotion of the moment turns his sound raw at times, so be it.

Mr. Terfel was especially gripping when he confronted his nemesis, the wily dwarf Alberich... (NYT)

Repeating his role as Wotan (now renamed the Wanderer), bass-baritone Bryn Terfel brought a world-weary majesty to the role and successfully punched through the heavy orchestration in Act 3, though he seemed at the limit of his powers and once or twice resorted to a kind of bluster. (AP)
Also fine was Bryn Terfel as the god Wotan, traveling incognito as the Wanderer. His radiant bass-baritone and supersize personality supplied a tragic grandeur that has been mostly AWOL from this “Ring.” (NYP)

Bryn Terfel, too, as the Wanderer, opened with an uncharacteristically colorless voice and wobbly vibrato. He warmed up noticeably in the second act opposite Eric Owens (CR)

Wotan (Bryn Terfel, singing with chilly authority) (TM)

Gerhard Siegel: MIME

Mime (the dynamic tenor Gerhard Siegel) (NYT) 
Tenor Gerhard Siegel was a Mime to treasure, his performance full of little grace notes (such as his turning tongue-tied when he tries to ask the Wanderer the final question in their riddle game.) (AP)

Gerhard Siegel as Alberich’s brother Mime, flexing a tenor muscular enough for Siegfried himself. (NYP)

But Acts I and II rightfully belonged to Gerhard Siegel. As the clever, conniving Mime he giggled and groveled, schemed and threatened, using every tool at his disposal. Among the most impressive is his razor-sharp diction, each consonant spat out like someone expelling sunflower seed husks for rhetorical effect. (TM)

Eric Owens: Alberich

Alberich, the bass-baritone Eric Owens. During the Met’s new “Rheingold” last season, Mr. Owens proved an Alberich for the ages. The role here is shorter but still crucial. Mr. Owens, again amazing, sang with stentorian sound and crisp diction, fleshing out every psychological nuance. (NYT)

Eric Owens reprised his incisive portrayal of Alberich (AP)

Eric Owens, boasting a granite-dark bass-baritone as the sinister dwarf Alberich (NYP)

Eric Owens, who continues his intense portrayal of Alberich with a powerful, if not always pretty, baritone. (CR)

Patricia Bardon: Erda

...the dark-voiced mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon (NYT)
Patricia Bardon struggled at both ends of her register in Erda's brief scene, theatrically the weakest of the night (AP)
Patricia Bardon, whose mezzo is as earthy as her character's domain (TM)

Hans-Peter König: Fafner

...the formidable bass Hans-Peter König (NYP)
...bass Hans-Peter Koenig sang imposingly as Fafner, (AP)
German, bass Hans-Peter König more than filled the role of Fafner with his muscular bass; it was only a shame that for much of his performance he had to do so unseen and amplified from behind a rubbery dragon puppet (CR)
Hans-Peter Konig, who sang with full-throated persuasion, although the dragon puppet dreamed up for him to sing behind wasn't as effective (TM)

Mojca Erdmann: Forest Bird

Mojca Erdmann was a bright-sounding forest bird.(CR)
Forest Bird (sung by the agile, pleasant soprano Mojca Erdmann, just out of sight) (NYT)
Forest Bird (Mojca Erdmann, clear and pristine but unseen while an animated bird flitted through Pires' projected trees). (TM)

Deborah Voigt: Brünnhilde Brünnhilde, the soprano Deborah Voigt sang with bright, penetrating sound and textured shadings. Her voice, though sometimes hard-edged, was exciting and expressive. And Ms. Voigt poignantly captured Brünnhilde’s confusion as she grapples with the loss of her godhood and realizes that no armor will protect her from the threat of Siegfried’s love, which she helplessly returns. (NYT) 
As his newly awakened bride, Voigt did not fare as well. The role of Bruennhilde in "Siegfried" is brief but unforgiving: She appears only in the last scene, but then is immediately called upon to pour out waves of sound, much of it in the upper range of the soprano voice.
Voigt approached her assignment earnestly but with noticeable caution, and she struggled to reach those high Cs. (AP)
Less happily cast was Deborah Voigt as the spellbound Valkyrie Brunnhilde, her voluptuous soprano turning ungainly as she lurched at high notes. That’s a shame, because she played the subtle transformation from virgin goddess to passionate woman exquisitely, with by far the best acting in her 20-year Met career. (NYP)
No special effects were offered to visualize the transformation of Brünnhilde from formerly feisty warrior-goddess to incandescent lover, but then, Deborah Voigt didn’t need any. As it was, her performance felt more like a solo flight, her voluptuous high notes soaring over the orchestra, which by then had finally hit its stride. There is a marked disparity between her joyfully radiant upper register and the more burnished sound she produces lower down, but both are tied together by a generosity of spirit uniquely her own. Once freed of her breastplate, she looked lovely with her flowing red curls and simple white gown. A dishy Brünnhilde opposite a strapping, blond-stubbled Siegfried? A more imaginative director might have sparked real chemistry between them. (CR)
...among them Deborah Voigt in some of her finest Brunnhilde moments (TM)

 Fabio Luisi: Conductor
That its members respect Mr. Luisi enormously was clear from their superb playing. He drew a transparent, flowing account of Wagner’s score, free of any heavy-handed interpretive agenda. During extended stretches, “Siegfried” sounded like the scherzo of a four-part “Ring” symphony (NYT)

Musically, by far the most noteworthy ingredient of the night was the astonishing playing by the orchestra as led by Fabio Luisi, the Met's new principal conductor.
In the first two acts, Luisi wove an elegant, chamber music-like texture with brisk tempos that made clear how closely this opera resembles the scherzo of a symphony. In the final act, when Wagner's orchestration thickens, Luisi elicited magnificent waves of sound without sacrificing individual detail.(AP)
Fabio Luisi, who rejuvenated the score with brisk, transparent sound. After decades of James Levine’s ponderous approach, it was like seeing a great painting stripped of encrusted grime. The standing ovation at his curtain call sounded like a real hero’s welcome. (NYP)
In the first act, there were coordination problems with the orchestra, but that had more to do with the choppy playing in the pit where Fabio Luisi got off to a slow start. (CR)
Maestro Fabio Luisi may not have the uncanny control possessed by James Levine, but he certainly produces the "rustling and roaring" orchestral effects that Wagner's libretto mentions in another context. Luisi also saw to it that the more lyrical later passages acquired the "fierce glow" mentioned in the libretto's more romantic contexts. (TM)

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Confused? You won't be: Jay Hunter Morris to Premiere in METs Götterdämmerung. and to rotate with Stephen Gould

In SF Opera's Ring Cycle Morris only filled in during  Siegfried but following  Gary Lehman's withdrawal from  their production of Siegfried, the MET has confirmed that Morris will  make his debut in Götterdämmerung at the productions premiere on January 27 2012.

He will share the role throughout the season with Stephen Gould (who will first appear in the METs Siegfried on May 9th 2012). Gould of course, was orginally  brought in to share the role with Lehman when they both replaced Ben Heppner  who had pulled from the role earlier this year.

Elizabeth Connell and Stephen Gould sing Siegfried

Confused? Then I won't tell you what is happening over at San Diego Opera where Ben Heppner has been brought in to replace  Morris in their production of Moby Dick, because Morris is replacing Heppner in Siegfried! It's all  a little like an episode of an 80's sitcom - don't you think?

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Listen Now: BBC Symphony Orchestra: Beginning of new Sibelius symphony cycle plus Bax & Saariaho

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 29 October 2011 | 1:09:00 am


As those who follow my inane ramblings over at Twitter maybe aware, I was recently debating over which Sibelius cycle to add to a few I already own - I ended up with wonderfully idiosyncratic Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under Leif Segerstam cycle, which I would highly recommend (I found the Finlandia from this cycle on youtube and present it for your attention below as a sampler).

Now, by one of those happy coincidences that happen occasionally,  I find  the ever wonderful BBC Symphony Orchestra, under another Finnish conductor:  Sakari Oramo, have begun a full Sibelius symphony cycle and that it is available to listen to - on demand - for free for the next 7 days from the BBC and is found in a program that includes both Saariaho and Bax! For more information visit the BBC page here or to listen to the program while here click this link which will bring up a popup player

EDIT: You also have four days left to hear the BBC SO under Neeme Jarvi, perform Korvits, Sibelius, Klami, Schubert. Get it while you can here

From the BBC:

Live from the Barbican Centre, London.

Presented by Louise Fryer.

The distinguished Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra to launch their Sibelius Symphony Cycle with his Third - over the next eight months, all seven of the Symphonies will be performed in a series of concerts broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

This opening concert is steeped in Finnish nature and mysticism. The Third Symphony was one of the first works to be composed in the serenity of Sibelius's lake-side home, Ainola, and features a lyrically beautiful chamber-like second movement. Anu Komsi is the soloist for Kaija Saariaho's evocation of Finland's snowy nights and fleeting springtime and for Sibelius's hymn to the all-creating nature-spirit, Luonnotar. The concert kicks off with Bax's evocation of Atlantic storminess - his symphonic poem Tintagel.

Bax: Tintagel
Kaija Saariaho: Leino Songs - UK premiere

8.00 Interval Music

Sibelius: Luonnotar
Sibelius: Symphony No.3 in C Major

Anu Komsi (soprano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo (conductor).

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The Bluffers Guide To: Frank Castorf

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 27 October 2011 | 9:30:00 pm

Frank Castorf
UPDATE: Never say you didn't hear it here first - unless you didn't. As discussed back in July 2011, 2013's Bayreuth Ring will be in the hands of Frank Castorf (see here). Once again, I present the bluffers guide to all things Castorf. You'll be in demand at your next Wagner Society meeting - maybe

Yes that Frank Castorf. Nearly as well known as Wim Wenders of course and needs no introduction we are sure.

What? You have never heard of him? The man whos best productions have been called "illogical", "rejecting a linear narrative"? The man who describes himself as an “quarrelsome” individual" - a sort of German version of the UK's  "angry young man" - but not that young? The Director keen to use multimidia in his stage productions; in a manner reminiscent of "reality TV shows? The man who adopted Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and had his actors sing songs by Britney Spears. You know, that Frank Castof. The man who's Meistersinger production involved him interpenetrating it with readings from Ernst Toller, a Jewish writer who escaped Nazi Germany and hanged himself in a New York; and wherein he replaced the orchestra with two pianos and a chorus made up of untrained stage hands? What? You have never heard of him? Surely not? Very well then, just for you:

The Wagnerian's Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through A Conversation About Frank Castorf

"WHEN the director Frank Castorf was being considered to head Berlin’s second largest state-owned theater in 1991, the cultural powerbroker Ivan Nagel urged the German Senate to take a risk on him and his politically minded troupe, saying, “In three years they will either be dead or famous". SALLY McGRANE - New York Times

"Under his direction, actors ignored huge portions of the classical texts they performed, stripped naked, screamed their lines for the duration of five-hour productions, got drunk onstage, dropped out of character, conducted private fights, tossed paint at their public, saw a third of the audience walk out as they spoke two lines at an excruciatingly slow pace, may or may not have induced a theatergoer to drink urine, threw potato salad, immersed themselves in water, recited newspaper reports of Hitler’s last peacetime birthday party, told bad jokes, called the audience East German sellouts and appeared to but did not kill a mouse" SALLY McGRANE - New York Times

“In the last years he’s had less success,” said Barbara Burckhardt, an editor at Theaterheute. “His method is exhausted".

"Greed" - A film by Frank Castorf (complete. German with Eng subs)

Biography from The Geothe Institut

Frank Castorf’s best theatre evenings are demanding, long, complex, loud, exalted and illogical. They reject a linear narrative and conclusive interpretations. Psychological interpretation of characters is anathema to the manager of the Berliner Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and undisturbed acting is right next to the trivialisation of reality by art as an object of hate. For almost fifteen years now, this concentrated “anti” position has resulted in the most important contemporary theatre in Germany.

The tremendous energy that characterises Castorf’s productions comes from the confrontation of harmony and violence. When he was a young director in the GDR, bureaucratic socialism provided the first opposition for Castorf’s anger. Banished to Anklam in the provinces, he continued to offend against the tolerated canon of hidden criticism of the system that was established in East German theatre until he was allowed to produce in the West. After Unification his revulsion at false common features, and especially of the “all’s well” politics of victorious capitalism, exploded. Nowhere in the art of the years immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall was the smile of the state power so fiercely confronted with the depressing reality of the system take-over as in Castorf’s theatre.

For example, in 1990 he produced Schiller’s “The Robbers” as a requiem to the GDR that both expressed uproar about the take-over and anger about the “creeping depression” of the East Germans. Ranging from pubescent, naked rebellion and offending the audience right up to montages of Schiller, Hegel and de Sade, the aggressive spectacle already unpacked the whole toolbox of Castorf's discontent. He made violating rules into a principle and developed it into a theatre that is permitted to do everything and ought to do nothing. And he transferred this principle to other social situations when the merger of the GDR into the consumer society faded historically as a subject.

Thanks to his tremendous creative energy and an ensemble of exceptional actors who could fulfil intellectual provocations as shrill satire, Castorf subjected Shakespeare and Hauptmann, Dostoyevsky and Tennessee Williams to radical reworkings. Flying potato salad and inserted theoretical texts, urinating in zinc buckets and the trials of hysterical family life were followed by improvised speeches to the audience or enacted subconscious with plenty of slapstick. Booming music and inserted films, tedious waiting that ends with the landing of a toy helicopter or nude madness with a boa around the actor’s neck – Castorf uses elements like this to assemble his snotty view of the world as theatre. Only the following agenda in the director’s words applied: “To do away with unambiguities, to cut the ground from under the feet of meanings – that’s what I always wanted to do!”

The many failed echoes of his method showed that this devaluing of harmony and meaning only works thanks to Castorf's constructive exceptional spirit. The deconstruction fashions, that were declared the trend of the nineties in his name, only led to a dissolution of the form among many emulators. But with Castorf the permanent, often cynical commenting on what is happening on the stage as part of the production resulted in a genuine challenge to intellect and humour. Even marathon evenings lasting many hours, such as “The Idiot” or “The Demons”, which transferred the Russian melancholy to a charged metropolitan atmosphere in the shabby bungalow aesthetics of his sympathetic set designer Bert Neumann, created an exciting enjoyment of excessive demands.

In recent years, the principle of “effort as purification” has been intensified by Castorf once again doubling the image and narrative levels on the stage with film teams. However, his work seems to have increasingly run out of control, with the range of venues where it is performed growing ever more diverse and the floods of images that flow through it becoming ever less coherent. Productions such as “Cocaine” (2004), which was based on the novel by Pitigrilli and had a stage set designed by the artist Jonathan Meese, or “My Snow Queen” (2005), which was based on the work of Hans Christian Andersen, dissipated their initial impetus in their incoherent deployment of provocative theatrical techniques. By 2006, when Castorf turned to Brecht and obscured “In the Jungle of the Cities” behind a chaotic jumble of contemporary slapstick and political finger-wagging, it had become evident that he was facing an artistic crisis. Maybe the world has moved on and Frank Castorf has run out of ideas. Or maybe the years of repetition have made the way he breaks the rules in his productions an example of exactly the kind of thing Castorf always wanted to struggle against: something harmonious and thoroughly predictable.

Till Briegleb

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Watch Now: The 14th Neue Stimmen International Opera Competition (Where Rene Pape came second)

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 24 October 2011 | 8:44:00 pm

Off topic somewhat but good stuff nevertheless.

Since 1987, Neue Stimmen revealed the voices of Vesselina Kassarova, René Pape (second place 1989), Nathalie Stutzmann (first winner), Dietrich Henschel, Angelika Kirchschlager, Christiane Karg. Almost 1 500 candidates have been auditioning until now. On October 22, only 6 of them remain: they have been selected for their technical and interpretative skills, and they are all the "new voices" this year.

Final Round Part 1:

Neue Stimmen 2011: Final Round (I) on

Final Round Part 2

Neue Stimmen 2011: Final Round (II) on

Award Ceremony

Neue Stimmen 2011: Awards Ceremony on

Olga Bezsmertna lyric soprano (Ukraine, First prize)
Jongmin Park bass (South Korea, Second prize)
Jinxu Xiahou tenor (China, Third prize)
Cristina-Antoaneta Pasaroiu soprano (Romania, Fourth prize)
Nadezhda Karyazina mezzo-soprano (Russia, Fifth prize)
Maria Celeng lyric soprano (Slovakia, Sixth prize)

Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Axel Kober conductor

Location : Stadthalle Gütersloh (Gütersloh, Germany)
Recording date : 10/22/201
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Franz Liszt: The first Jerry Lee Lewis

From NPR. To listen click here

When you think of rock n' roll, Franz Liszt might not be the first name that comes to mind. But the classical pianist, born 200 years ago today, was in many ways the first rock star of all time.

In the mid-19th century, Liszt was tearing up the polite salons and concert halls of Europe with his virtuoso performances. Women would literally attack him: tear bits of his clothing, fight over broken piano strings and locks of his shoulder-length hair. Europe had never seen anything like it. It was a phenomenon the great German poet Heinrich Heine dubbed "Lisztomania."

"We hear about women throwing their clothes onto the stage and taking his cigar butts and placing them in their cleavages," says Stephen Hough, a world-renowned concert pianist.

Like many contemporary classical pianists, Hough is obsessed with Liszt — not only because he was really good, but also because he revolutionized the art of performance.

"Liszt was a very dynamic personality," Hough says. "He was someone who seduced people — not just in a sexual way, but in a dramatic way. He was someone who, like a great speaker, was able to capture an audience."

Before Franz Liszt, no one thought a solo pianist could hold anyone's attention, let alone captivate an audience. Liszt set out across Europe in 1839 to prove the conventional wisdom wrong. As part of that mission, he made a radical decision to never bring his scores onstage.

"Before Liszt, it was considered almost in bad taste to play from memory," Hough explains. "Chopinonce chided a student: It looked almost arrogant, as if you were pretending that the piece you were playing was by you. Liszt saw that playing the piano, especially for a whole evening in front of an audience, it was a theatrical event that needed not just musical things happening but physical things on the stage."

Continue Reading
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Free Online Broadcast: The Met Premiere - Siegfried. Live 27th October 2011

UPDATE: Sorry, correct time to listen in the UK/Europe. Must have been having a bad day. I believe this is now correct, but please check your timezones

For those unable to attend and who don't want to wait for radio broadcasts later on, the Met will be streaming Siegfried live from the METs website.


Click  here



At what time?

18:00 ET
22:00 GMT
23:00 UK


Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Brünnhilde: Deborah Voigt
Erda: Patricia Bardon
Siegfried: Jay Hunter Morris
Mime: Gerhard Siegel
Wanderer: Bryn Terfel
Alberich: Eric Owens
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Wagner Concert: The Oxford Wagner Society. 12 November 2011


Sheldonian Theatre

Saturday 12 November 2011 8pm

Sara Wallander-Ross


Justin Lavender


Oxford Wagner Society


Christian Stier


Der Fliegende




Good Friday Music


Act 3, Scenes 1 and 2

Ticket Office: 01865 305305

£22 (£16), £18 (£12), £14 (£8), £9 (£5)

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Christoph von Dohnányi refuses to conduct at Hungary's State Opera

Hungary's State Opera says German conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi has canceled a pair of appearances to protest the appointment of a theater director linked to far-right groups.

Dohnanyi said in a letter released Friday by the Hungarian State Opera that he does not want to "appear in a city whose mayor entrusted the direction of a theater to two known, extreme right-wing anti-Semites."

Das Rheingold: Zur Burg führt die Brücke" 
Christoph von Dohnányi - The Cleveland Orchestra
Robert Hale (Wotan), Hanna Schwarz (Fricka), Kim Begley (Loge), Thomas Sunnegardh (Froh), Gabriele Fontana (Woglinde), Ildiko Komlosi (Wellgunde), Margareta Hintermeier (Flosshilde)

Mayor Istvan Tarlos' recent appointment of Gyorgy Dorner was widely criticized by Jewish organizations, as well as a large group of directors of other Budapest theaters.

Dorner has named Istvan Csurka, a playwright and former lawmaker known for anti-Semitic speeches and articles, as his deputy.

The Opera said it was considering suing Dohnanyi for compensation.

Source: SF Gate
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Why Gary Lehman won't be the MET's Siegfried and what's next

Still wondering why Lehman  pulled from one of opera's 'premiere" appearances - as Siegfried in the MET's new production? In an interview his manger Brian Jauhiainen has now stated it is the result of an "an energy-sapping virus" he caught after eating seafood while on tour in October 2010. It seems  that while he thought he had  recovered fully, during rehearsals for Siegfried he found he was still feeling weak..

Jauhianen went on to say, "He’s (Lehman) physically exhausted" and felt Siegfried was not the best way to return to the stage. “The Met decided in consultation with us that this was the prudent thing to do. He was prepared but the body would not allow him to do it.” He stressed this was a joint decision between Lehman and the MET. He did however expect Lehman to perform in Götterdämmerung later this season and the entire Ring Cycle in 2012.

More about his replacement here
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Watch Now: Otto Klemperer Documentary: Long Journey through His Times (Running time: 1 hour 40 min)

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 23 October 2011 | 7:10:00 pm

Sadly, this has never been released on DVD. Complete with rare interviews. Of course, he discusses working with Mahler.

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Watch Now: Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 - Otto Klemperer

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A Knight at the Opera: Heine, Wagner, Herzl, Peretz and the Legacy of Der Tannhäuser

Yet something else sitting in a pile of books to be read that I thought might be of interest. 

A Knight at the Opera: Heine, Wagner, Herzl, Peretz and the Legacy of Der Tannhäuser 

From the publisher:

A Knight at the Opera examines the remarkable and unknown role that the medieval legend (and Wagner opera)Tannhäuser played in Jewish cultural life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book analyzes how three of the greatest Jewish thinkers of that era, Heinrich Heine, Theodor Herzl, and I. L. Peretz, used this central myth of Germany to strengthen Jewish culture and to attack anti-Semitism. In the original medieval myth, a Christian knight lives in sin with the seductive pagan goddess Venus in the Venusberg. He escapes her clutches and makes his way to Rome to seek absolution from the Pope. The Pope does not pardon Tannhäuser and he returns to the Venusberg. During the course of A Knight at the Opera, readers will see how Tannhäuser evolves from a medieval knight, to Heine’s German scoundrel in early modern Europe, to Wagner’s idealized German male, and finally to Peretz’s pious Jewish scholar in the Land of Israel. Venus herself also undergoes major changes from a pagan goddess, to a lusty housewife, to an overbearing Jewish mother. The book also discusses how the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, was so inspired by Wagner’s opera that he wrote The Jewish State while attending performances of it, and he even had the Second Zionist Congress open to the music of Tannhäuser’s overture. A Knight at the Opera uses Tannhäuser as a way to examine the changing relationship between Jews and the broader world during the advent of the modern era, and to question if any art, even that of a prominent anti-Semite, should be considered taboo.

About the Author
Leah Garrett is the Loti Smorgon Research Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture at Monash University, having previously been an Associate Professor of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Denver. She received a PhD in Jewish Literary Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She has published two previous books: Journeys beyond the Pale: Yiddish Travel Writing in the Modern World (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003) and (as editor) The Cross and Other Jewish Stories by Lamed Shapiro (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).

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George London: Between Gods & Demons

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 22 October 2011 | 1:59:00 am

As a special event in its 2011-2012 season, The George London Foundation for Singers will present the U.S. premiere screening of George London: Between Gods and Demons, a 2011 documentary film about the career of the legendary singer - the pre-eminent American bass-baritone of the postwar era who was a leader in the cultivation of young talent - on the exact 60th anniversary of his Metropolitan Opera debut: Sunday, November 13, 2011, at 3:00 PM. The screening, at The Morgan Library & Museum, will be hosted by Sherrill Milnes, perhaps the leading American baritone of the generation succeeding London's.

George London: Between Gods and Demons, produced by Arthaus Musik, the world's leading classical music DVD label, features previously unreleased performance footage and interviews with his widow, Nora London, as well as singers Neil Shicoff, Catherine Malfitano, and Deborah Polaski, among others. Arthaus Musik says of the hour-long documentary (which is in German with English subtitles): "George London...sang with Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas and Nicolai Gedda, to name only a few, and captured the audience's hearts with his distinctive voice and his charismatic stage presence. The film portrays this exceptional artist in all his diversity, and shows [not only] rare archive footage of his great performances as an opera singer, but also as an interpreter of traditional spirituals and operetta." The documentary was directed by Marita Stocker. The DVD, which also features 90 minutes of previously unreleased performance footage, will be available November 15 from ArkivMusic. (View the trailer on YouTube.) 

Tickets are free to subscribers to the George London Foundation Recital Series, $20 to the general public. For tickets and information, call (212) 212-956-2809, or e-mail

George London? The sheer virility of his sound? The genius of his musical imagination? His brilliant acting? No. It was more than was as if you were in the presence of a great life force. There was always a feeling of danger.
-Teresa Stratas

One of America's most compelling vocal artists, George London (1920-1985) was born in Montreal. When he was 15, his family moved to Los Angeles, where he received his early musical education. After scattered appearances in opera and operetta on both coasts, in 1947 he joined the Bel Canto Trio with soprano Frances Yeend and tenor Mario Lanza. London went to Europe in 1949 to gain the needed stage experience, and after a highly successful audition with Karl Böhm, he was instantly engaged by the Vienna State Opera. His debut as Amonasro in Aida made London an overnight sensation, and his status was further enhanced by similar successes as Figaro at Edinburgh in 1950 and in Parsifal at Bayreuth in 1951, the same year he made his Metropolitan Opera debut (in Aida). In his two decades as one of the world's most acclaimed singers, he became particularly renowned for his performances, in the world's top opera houses, of the title roles of Don Giovanni and The Flying Dutchman, Scarpia in Tosca, and the four villains in Les Contes d'Hoffman. In 1960, he became the first American to sing the title role of Boris Godunov at the Bolshoi Theater, a characterization that lives on in a memorable recording. He was also the first American to sing Mozart in Salzburg and the Dutchman in Bayreuth.

George London's career was cut short by illness. He subsequently became Artistic Director of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (1968-1971) and Director of the National Opera Institute (1971-1980) as well as heading the Washington Opera (1975-1980) before succumbing to a heart ailment.

For 40 years, the George London Foundation has been granting awards to outstanding young professional opera singers during their early careers. Initially created under the auspices of the National Opera Institute, the awards program has been administered since 1990 directly by the Foundation as a living legacy to George London's own exceptional talent and generosity. George London, remembering his own struggle, wished to make the road to success a little easier for future generations of singers. The Foundation remains committed to his goal.

Upcoming events in 2011-2012
The George London Foundation for Singers season continues at the Morgan with the continuation of the recital series and the annual awards competition:
The 41st annual George London Foundation Awards Competition begins with three days of preliminary auditions and culminates with the final round and award ceremony open to the public. The 2012 competition takes place February 13-17, and the public is invited to attend the competition finals and awards announcement on Friday, February 17, 2012.
Marcello Giordani, tenor, and Meagan Miller, soprano, perform in recital with Craig Rutenberg, piano, on Sunday, March 4, 2012, at 5:00 PM. This is the only New York recital of the season for Ms. Miller, a 2008 George London Award winner.
Lisette Oropesa, soprano, and Brian Mulligan, baritone, perform in recital with Ken Noda, piano, on Sunday, April 1, 2012, at 5:00 PM. Ms. Oropesa, a 2008 George London Award winner; and Mr. Mulligan, who won the award in 2003, perform their only New York recitals.

Sunday, November 13, 2011, at 3:00 PM
Gilder Lehrman Hall at The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, New York City

U.S. Premiere Screening of a Documentary Film by Marita Stocker
George London: Between Gods & Demons
Hosted by Sherrill Milnes

Tickets: Free for series subscribers, $20 for general public
Call (212) 956-2809, e-mail

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First SF Opera, Now the MET: Jay Hunter Morris to Replace Gary Lehman in the Met's Siegfried

Jay Hunter Morris seems to be becoming every major Ring Cycles replacement Siegfried of choice. By the  way, if you live in the UK/Europe and want to see Morris in Wagner - without a long flight - he is also WNO Tristan in their up and coming Tristan und Isolde revival - more here

Jay Hunter Morris to Replace Gary Lehman in the Met's Siegfried
By: Andy Propst · Oct 19, 2011 · New York

Jay Hunter Morris will sing the title role in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Richard Wagner's Siegfried which opens on October 27 and continues with performances on November 1 and November 5. He replaces Gary Lehman who has withdrawn due to illness.

Morris, who made his Met debut in 2007 as Števa in Janácek's Jenufa, sang the role of Siegfried this past summer at the San Francisco Opera. Other Wagner roles in his repertory include Walther in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer, as well as Tristan in Tristan und Isolde, which he will sing for the first time next year at the Welsh National Opera. Among his other credits are such contemporary works as Howard Shore's The Fly, Elliott Goldenthal and Julie Taymor's Grendel, André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, and Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking and Moby Dick.

Directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by Fabio Luisi, the production will also feature Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Bryn Terfel as the Wanderer, Eric Owens as Alberich, Gerhard Siegel as Mime, and Mojca Erdmann as the Woodbird.

Source: Theater Mania

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Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 17 October 2011 | 10:20:00 pm

Wagner, Die Walküre, act I, Sieglinde-Siegmund,
Orchester des Berliner Rundfunks, dir Artur Rother,
enr 17-10-1941, Berlin.
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Daniel Barenboim to be La Scala's musical director

Source: AFP
MILAN — World-famous conductor Daniel Barenboim will take up the post of musical director at Italy's world renowned La Scala opera house from December until the end of 2016, the Milan theatre said on Thursday.
The Israeli-Argentinian musician will open the 2011-2012 season by directing Mozart's Don Giovanni, staged by Canadian Robert Carsen. Barenboim will spend 15 weeks a year at La Scala, where he is already principle guest conductor.
La Scala's former music director Riccardo Muti stepped down from the post in 2005 after 20 years following a blazing row over artistic differences with management and the position had remained vacant since then.
Since Muti's departure, Barenboim has held the honourary title of "Maestro of La Scala," producing at least two operas a year.
The Milan opera house's artistic director, Frenchman Stephane Lissner, said the theatre was pleased to strengthen further "a close relationship with one of the biggest orchestral directors of our time."
"In 2005, after the triumph of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the orchestra asked for Barenboim to be made musical director immediately. He turned us down and we created the Maestro title... making him part of the La Scala family," he said.
Milan mayor Giuliano Pisapia, who heads the La Scala foundation, said Barenboim's appointment "confirms once more that La Scala is an international reference for culture and music."
It is also hoped the Buenos Aires-born musician, who began playing the piano at just five years old and was married to the late cellist Jacqueline du Pre, will help La Scala continue to thrive, despite cuts to the arts.
"With Daniel Barenboim, La Scala today has one of the greatest musicians of our time, and in a moment of great confusion, of great crisis, he is a humanist who can bring us a lot through his ideas," Lissner said.
"He's also a director who is very interested in the theatre and is convinced that a big lyrical production should have the same standards for music as for the theatre. That's very, very important," he said.
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Listen to Egils Silins as the Flying Dutchman and Anja Kampe as Senta, ROH, BBC Radio 3

Edit: And if you missed it it will be available for 7 days (from 12/11/11) HERE

Following the article below I thought I would make you aware of this - assuming you can't, or don't want to, get along to see it

Egils Silins (The Dutchman) and Anja Kampe (Senta) with the orchestra and chorus of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden conducted by Jeffrey Tate.

More on this production here

When to listen?



BBC Radio 3

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Egils Silins to take over as the doomed Dutchman - ROH Flying Dutchman 2011

Sorry this is late, thought I had posted it already!

Source: The Independent

By Michael Church

As English National Opera found out last week with Elizabeth Llewellyn in Figaro, emergency stand-ins can be brilliantly successful. And so it may be with Egils Silins, who will stand in for Falk Struckmann in the Royal Opera's Der Fliegende Holländer on Tuesday. This 50-year-old Latvian may be a newcomer to Covent Garden, but he's got the most magnificently resonant voice and presence, and has sung the role opposite Anja Kampe (here playing his saviour Senta) twice before. "She's the best Senta in the world," he says. "And the chemistry between us is perfect."

Having sung in 10 different productions of Wagner's work, he's now a connoisseur, and Tim Albery's Covent Garden version is in his view one of the best. "At least it's set in a ship," he says, "not in a bank or a fitness centre." He grimaces at the memory of a David Pountney show set it in a space ship. "If you listen to the overture, you hear the sea, not the cosmos. But we singers have to be a little bit prostitutes. Whatever we think about the show, we get the money, and we do it."

With all his success, he's become a sort of Flying Dutchman himself. I catch him in London between performances in St Petersburg (the day before) and Zurich (the day after). He has bases in Germany, Spain, and Latvia: "In the last 10 years, I've never spent more than three weeks at a time in any one place. And I like this life."

'Der Fliegende Holländer', Royal Opera House, London WC1 (, 18 October to 4 November
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An Audio Introduction to the Romantic Movement

Again, it might be argued it is easier to understand Wagner if you have an understanding of the Romantic Movement:

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An Audio Introduction to Schopenhauer

One supposes it could be argued it is difficult to understand Wagner without a little understanding of Arthur. Found on youtube

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Der Fluch des Engelhart: "The Lost Wagner Opera"

Well, not really but a little bit of pointless Wagner Trivia and part of the final "act".

Gabriel Knight is a series of 3 video adventure games from the 1990s produced for the PC and MAC by Jane Jensen and Roberta Williams. Because I am so lazy I will quote from WIKI which in this case is unusually correct:

All three games in the series focus on the adventures of Gabriel Knight, a New Orleans author and bookstore owner who finds that his destiny is to become aSchattenjäger, or "Shadow Hunter". Gabriel's assistant, sidekick, and sometime romantic interest Grace Nakimura is a major supporting character in Sins of the Fathers. In The Beast Within and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, she shares the role of protagonist with Gabriel. The player alternates between Gabriel and Grace for different portions of each game.

With a balanced mix of historical facts and fictional elements, as well as an emphasis on character development (e.g. the relationship between Gabriel and Grace is an important subplot throughout the series), the Gabriel Knight games have been praised as outstanding achievements in storytelling. The music in the series, composed by Robert Holmes(Jensen's husband), contributes significantly to the atmosphere.
Of especial interest to us is the second game in the series. Returning to WIKI once again:

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery

The second game (also known as Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within) follows Gabriel on his second Schattenjäger case. A year after the events of Sins of the Fathers, he has moved to his ancestral home in Bavaria, Germany to write his new novel. The population of Rittersberg, the seat of the Schattenjägers, are well aware of his family's reputation and when word reaches them of what is reported to be a werewolf attack in Munich, they compel Gabriel to go and investigate. Gabriel is joined in Germany by Grace, once she learns that he has begun a new case and hasn't asked her to join him. Whilst Gabriel follows a trail from missing zoo wolves to a mysterious men's hunting club in Munich, Grace conducts research back in Rittersberg and around Bavaria. Her investigations lead her to the history of King Ludwig II, the composer Richard Wagner and a shadowy figure known as the Black Wolf. Eventually the links between the cases become clear, and Grace discovers that the person in the greatest danger has become Gabriel himself.

The game was created using techniques developed in Phantasmagoria, with the characters and many objects captured in real-time video against blue screen backgrounds and appearing on "virtual sets" consisting largely of photographic backgrounds. Although this technique has come in for much criticism from games makers and players alike, The Beast Within was generally well received with the quality of the script and some of the performances coming in for particular praise. Dean Erickson plays Gabriel Knight andJoanne Takahashi plays Grace Nakamura.If you are a Wagner completionist there is a novelization of the game also which while now difficult to get you can at least read on Scribd by going here

So, what does this missing Wagner masterpiece sound and look like? You really want to know? Well, don't say we didn't warn you:

The opera sequence near the end of the game GK2 The Beast Within. It is the first performance of a long lost Wagner opera about werewolves called "Der Fluch des Engelhart" [The Curse of Engelhart] which was composed to 'save' King Ludwig over hundred years ago.

Friedrich von Glower is invited as one of the special guests. Gabriel has made his way on the stage for the third act as Engelhart.
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