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Watch now (on demand): The Ring Cycle Complete (Jonathan Dove and Graham Vick's 1990s reduced version) approx 9 hours

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday 30 November 2011 | 1:49:00 am

There have, and continue to be, attempts to make productions of the Ring "manageable" for smaller opera groups (and more "accessible" to people new to the Ring in performance)

In 1990 Jonathan Dove and Graham Vick' made one of the more famous attempts in their "Ring Saga" reducing the entire cycle to approximately 9 hours and reducing Wagner's orchestra of 110 musicians to 18. Originally, if my memory serves, written for Birmingham City Touring Opera, it has been performed by a number of different groups (including Longborough Festival Opera where it was performed as their first Ring Cycle). Presently, it is on tour in a production by Peter Rundel and Antoine Gindt across Europe. You can, should so wish, catch it this week at Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg beginning this Friday with  Rheingold (more, including tickets here)

However, should you be unable to catch it this run you can watch the entire cycle below courtesy of ARTE.TV (Available for the next four months). While I have not had chance to watch all of it - in my haste to get it to you - I can say, having viewed snippets,  that I have been pleasantly surprised with what I have seen and head so far. Recommended. Enjoy. 


WOGLINDE Mélody Louledjian
FLOSSHILDE, ERDA Louise Callinan
FREIA Donatienne Michel-Dansac
FRICKA Nora Petro Enko
LOGE Fabrice Dalis
ALBERICH Lionel Peintre
FAFNER Johannes Schmidt
FASOLT Martin Blasius
DONNER Alexander Knop
WOTAN Ivan Ludlow

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KEN RUSSELL 1927-2011

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 28 November 2011 | 7:53:00 pm

Ken Russell has died - age 84. His Mahler movie seemed appropriate, especially the funeral scene below - plus a little of his Debussy for the BBC in 1965

From the Guardian:

Ken Russell: Sex, nuns and rock'n'roll

Naked wrestling, religious mania and The Who's Tommy: director Ken Russell transformed British cinema. His closest collaborators recall a fierce, funny and groundbreaking talent

Glenda Jackson
I worked with Ken on six films. Women in Love was the first time I'd worked with a director of that genius, and on a film of that size. What I remember most was the creative and productive atmosphere on set: he was open to ideas from everyone, from the clapperboard operator upwards. Like any great director, he knew what he didn't want – but was open to everything else.

As a director he never said anything very specific. He'd say, "It needs to be a bit more … urrrgh, or a bit less hmmm", and you knew exactly what he meant. I used to ask him why he never said "Cut", and he said, "Because it means you always do something different." They gave me an Oscar [for her performance as Gudrun Brangwen], but I couldn't collect itas I was working. I haven't seen the film since the initial screening for cast and crew.

Working with Ken was one of the great joys of my life. My whole memory of him is infused with laughter. His imagination grew and developed over the course of the films we made together [The Music Lovers, The Boy Friend, Salome's Last Dance, The Rainbow, The Secret Life of Arnold Bax]. I think it's a great disgrace to the film industry that he has been ignored for so long, that people have not respected the barriers he broke down.

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Wagner and Cinema: Cronenberg and and Lars von Trier

'A Dangerous Method,' 'Melancholia' take cues from Richard Wagner: David Ng

A Dangerous Method
Filmmakers have been borrowing and adapting the music of Richard Wagner since the dawn of cinema. The 19th century German composer's lush, dramatic music often serves as a kind of emotional hormone for the screen, providing an adrenaline rush in action sequences and surges of romantic feeling for scenes of passion.

But sometimes a soundtrack is more than just a soundtrack. In the case of two recent films -- David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" and Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" -- Wagner pervades the scores as well as the story lines, informing the psychology of the characters while adding crucial sonic subtext. To fully understand both films requires an immersion in Wagner's music and ideas.

In Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) enters into an adulterous affair with Sabina Spielrien (Keira Knightley), a young Russian patient suffering from hysteria. Their relationship takes root in a shared fixation on Wagner's "Ring" cycle operas. While they both prefer "Das Rheingold," the first opera in the cycle, it is the third opera, "Siegfried," that plays a key role in the movie.
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Scenes from Götterdämmerung with Alwyn Mellor, Stuart Pendred, and more: 03/12/2011, London

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday 25 November 2011 | 11:45:00 pm

Update 30/11/11): We have been informed that Alwyn Mellor has had to withdraw from this event. More news as we get it.

A fine  cast of up and coming and internationally recognized Wagnerians (Seattle Operas up and coming Brunnhilde, and LFO's Hagan to name two - and all for only £25!

Date: 03/12/2011

As part of the Bayrueth Bursary Competition, singing the role of 'Hagen' in "Scenes from Gotterdammerung" for the Mastersingers and Wagner Society.


Alwyn Mellor - Brunnhilde

Stuart Pendred - Hagen (Longborough Festival Opera's Hagan in 2012)

Andrew Mayor - Gunther

Niamh Kelly - First Norn

Catherine Young - Second Norn

Meta Powell - Third Norn

Piano - David Syrus

Director: Christopher Cowell



157 - 163, GRAY'S INN ROAD


WHEN: 2.30pm

TICKETS: £25.00

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In Memoriam: Sena Jurinac

“The lad himself is played by Sena Jurinac, who has one of the most beautiful voices at the Vienna State Opera. She is charmingly natural both as the youthfully bewildered lover and as a rogue. The Cherubino-like nature of the character finds particularly delightful expression when playful amorousness turns to the tongue-tied awkwardness of the first real feeling of love.”
Karl Heinz Ruppel describing her Octavian, Süddeutsche Zeitung 1960

Obituary from the Telegraph:

Sena Jurinac, born October 24 1921, died November 22 2011

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Watch Now: Knappertsbusch, Backhaus, Birgit Nilsson in Concert - Beethoven, Wagner (Wien 1962)

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday 23 November 2011 | 5:42:00 pm

You really should watch this

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WNO Spring 2012 season features a host of Wagnerians - if no Wagner till Summer 2012

WNO have announced their Spring 2012 season today - details below. Of especial interest are Beatrice and Benedict whose cast includes Sara Fulgoni as Beatrice. Sara of course, performed  Grange Parks fine, if idiosyncratic, Brangäne (as Isolde's PA) in their first Wagner production this year. We have been meaning to catch-up with her performances and this seems like a good occasion as any - and it is Berlioz after all.

Of equal interest to any Wagnerian will be the revival of Lluis Pasqual’s The Marriage of Figaro which next year will be conducted by Longborough Opera Festivals wagnerian conductor Anthony Negus - just before he gets ready for the premiere of LFO's Gotterdammerung in the summer. We are expecting a very interesting night in the theater. Full details of all productions below.

Welsh National Opera Spring 2012

Our new season focuses on matters of the heart, seen from a women’s perspective. Rebecca Evans, Sara Fulgoni and Joyce El-Khoury, a rising star from the New York Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists Development Programme, take centre stage….

·         Elijah Moshinsky’s Beatrice and Benedict features Sara Fulgoni, Robin Tritschler, Anna Burford and Donald Maxwell and will be conducted by Michael Hofstetter.

·         David McVicar’s La traviata features Joyce El-Khoury, Jason Howard and Carlos Osuna and will be conducted by Julia Jones.

·         Lluis Pasqual’s The Marriage of Figaro features Rebecca Evans, Elizabeth Watts, David Soar and Dario Solari and will be conducted by Anthony Negus

·         Frederic Chaslin will also conduct WNO Orchestra in concert at St David’s Hall in Cardiff on 27th January 2012, featuring Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Adams, The Chairman Dances and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2.

WNO’s Spring Season 2012 can be seen in Cardiff, Birmingham, Llandudno, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Plymouth, Bristol and Swansea.

Welsh National Opera Spring 2012


Le Nozze di Figaro - Mozart


Sung in Italian

With English surtitles and Welsh surtitles at Wales Millennium Centre, Venue Cymru and Swansea Grand Theatre

First night 25 February

Figaro David Soar

Countess Almaviva Rebecca Evans (ex 22, 24, 29, 31 March & 3 April)

Camilla Roberts (22, 24, 29, 31 March & 3 April)

Count Almaviva Dario Solari

Susanna Elizabeth Watts

Cherubino Cora Burggraaf (until 17 March)

Patricia Orr (from 22 March)

Doctor Bartolo Henry Waddington

Marcellina Sarah Pring

Barbarina Joanne Boag

Don Basilio Timothy Robinson

Don Curzio Timothy Robinson

Antonio Julian Boyce

Conductor Anthony Negus

Director Lluis Pasqual

Revival Director Caroline Chaney

Designer Paco Azorín

Costume Designer Franca Squarciapino

Lighting Designer Albert Faura

Choreographer Montse Colome

Co-production with Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona

Supported by WNO Sponsors’ Group

La traviata - Verdi


Sung in Italian

With English surtitles and Welsh surtitles at Wales Millennium Centre, Venue Cymru and Swansea Grand Theatre

First night 11 February

Violetta Joyce El-Khoury

Alfredo Carlos Osuna

Giorgio Germont Jason Howard

Baron Douphol Eddie Wade

Doctor Grenvil Martin Lloyd

Annina Sian Meinir

Flora Amanda Baldwin

Marquis of Obigny Philip Lloyd Evans

Giuseppe Simon Buttle

Conductor Julia Jones (until 5 April)

Simon Phillippo (from 7 April)

Director David McVicar

Revival Director Marie Lambert

Designer Tanya McCallin

Lighting Designer Jennifer Tipton

Choreographer Andrew George

Co-production with Scottish Opera and Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona

Beatrice and Benedict - Berlioz

With English surtitles and Welsh surtitles at Wales Millennium Centre, Venue Cymru and Swansea Grand Theatre

First night 17 February.

Beatrice Sara Fulgoni

Benedict Robin Tritschler

Hero Laura Mitchell

Somarone Donald Maxwell (Ex 19 April)

William Robert Allenby (19 April)

Ursula Anna Burford

Claudio Gary Griffiths

Don Pedro Piotr Lempa

Leonato Michael Clifton-Thompson

Conductor Michael Hofstetter

Director Elijah Moshinsky

Revival Director Robin Tebbutt

Designer Michael Yeargan

Costume Designer Dona Granata

Lighting Designer Howard Harrison

Co-production with Opera Australia

Supported by WNO Idloes Owen Society.

More details WNO

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Amber Wagner: Wagner then Strauss and perhaps back to Wagner again?

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 22 November 2011 | 8:55:00 pm

John von Rhein Classical music critic Chicago Tribune

9:13 a.m. CST, November 22, 2011

The first time I heard Amber Wagner sing was on a warm summer night in 2008 atMillennium Park. The young soprano, then beginning her second year in Lyric Opera's young artist development program, the Ryan Opera Center, was performing in the annual "Stars of Lyric Opera" concert. I remember being blown away by the creamy beauty and rich amplitude of her voice as she sustained the arching cantilena of Leonora's aria, "Tacea la notte," from Verdi's "Il Trovatore."

I turned to my companion and exclaimed, "She's got the goods!"

And her singing still carries an astonishing impact, allied to an artistry that has grown considerably in the intervening years. At 31, Wagner is one of Lyric's proudest success stories, and she's standing on the brink of what surely will be an extraordinary international career.

Having triumphed in her first Elsa in Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin" at Lyric in March, the soprano is back in Chicago where she is enjoying another triumph in another big role – or, rather, two of them -- the Prima Donna and Ariadne in Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos." The music is a perfect fit for her voice, which can turn on a dime from full-throttle dramatic singing to melting lyricism that soars into the Straussian stratosphere.

"I'm having great fun with this part and this production," Wagner told me during a recent rehearsal break. "I don't feel tired when I come out of singing Ariadne. It's a nice relief to sing that role, compared to singing Elsa, when you're programmed to be on stage for five hours!"

The singer comes across in conversation as direct and open, an artist whose feet are firmly planted on level ground and who's refreshingly realistic about herself and what she hopes to achieve professionally..

Although Lyric keeps the identity of its understudies ("covers," as they're known in the business) a secret, Wagner is known to be the cover Aida in the Verdi work here, beginning in January. From Chicago she will fly to Frankfurt for her role debut as Sieglinde in Richard Wagner's "Die Walkure."

But the big revelation is she's also set to make her Chicago role debut as another Verdi heroine, Leonora, in "Trovatore," for the opening of Lyric's 2014-15 season. And there's talk of her taking on another Wagnerian heroine, Elisabeth in "Tannhauser," in early 2013, theater to be announced.

Hugely demanding roles, all. But Lyric music director Andrew Davis, who conducted her in "Lohengrin" here in March and is also pacing the current run of "Ariadne auf Naxos," says each of these formidable roles lies comfortably within the singer's capabilities.

"I'm always astonished by Amber," he says. "She has tremendous stamina and she's very hard-working. She has a great appetite to learn and to grow. And she's sort of fearless! Hers is one of those voices you hear a very few of in your lifetime. Seldom can you say, 'Wow, this is a great Wagner and Strauss singer who's also a great Verdi singer.' With Amber you can. I predict the biggest possible future for her."

Determined to take things at her own slow and careful pace, Wagner already is having to turn down extravagant offers from European opera houses. "I have chosen longevity over a career over making money," she declares. She credits her manager, Matthew Horner of IMG Artists, with mapping out a realistic trajectory of roles for her through the end of the decade.

Wagner knew little enough about the art of singing, let alone the business of singing, in 2007 when, fresh out of college in Arizona, she began her three seasons as a member of the Ryan Center young artists ensemble.

"They benched me my first year so I could work on my technique and explore repertory," Wagner recalls. "(Ryan Center director) Gianna Rolandi said she didn't want anyone on the outside to hear me because they would just get crazy ideas about me. It was super-wise advice."

Wagner first came to attention of New York opera audiences that same year when she emerged as one of six winners of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals. The concert and the preparations leading up to it were documented in Susan Froemke's film, "The Audition," now available on home video.

Born in California and raised in Oregon, Wagner switched from sociology to music as an undergrad at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix (where she currently lives with her husband, Gabriel Salazar, a voice teacher) after a music teacher, Sheila Corley, said she heard something special in her voice. Corley later became her voice teacher.

But Renee Fleming was what really inspired her to pursue a career in opera. "I became obsessed with Renee after I heard her in recital," Wagner confesses. "That voice, and the way she communicates when she's singing – no one encapsulates the art with such grace and kindness."

In fact, Wagner's first assignment at the center, in 2008, was covering the small role of the maid Annina in Verdi's "La Traviata" -- starring Fleming as Violetta. When Marjorie Owens, the singer who was scheduled to perform Annina, fell ill, Wagner got to be Fleming's maid for the night.

"I had never sung on a professional stage before, and this was my Lyric stage debut. Renee couldn't have been nicer. I was in heaven! Days later I would get gag e-mails from the Lyric administration – 'You need to bring back Renee's gown – she needs it for her performance!' ''

Continue reading at: Chicago Tribune
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PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE: A Guide to the Opera - Lawrence Gilman

We noticed a few companies on amazon selling this (long in the pubic domain) book for kindle. With that in mind we provide the curious a free electronic copy - courtesy of Project Gutenberg. The HTML version will simply open a webpage with the full book. Clicking on Epub or Kindle link will download a copy in the respective format.


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Out Now: the November issue of The Wagner Journal

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 21 November 2011 | 11:18:00 pm

Out at last and with some especially interesting content to boot :

The November 2011 issue (vol.5, no.3), now available, contains the following feature articles:

• in 'Monsalvat's Magnetic Wand', Edward A. Bortnichak and Paula M. Bortnichak examine Wagner's works through the lens of mesmerism and paranormal experience generally, suggesting that these hugely popular activities left their mark on both Wagner and his early audiences.

• in 'Sea, Mirror, Woman, Love: Some Recurrent Imagery in "Opera and Drama" ', Michael Dyson finds a seductive series of images in Wagner's major theoretical essay by means of which his aesthetic programme is articulated and clarified.

• in 'Craft and Magic: Forges and Forging in Wagner's Ring', Werner Breig looks at the craft of forging in Siegfried, drawing the distinction that Siegfried himself draws between the learnt technique of a smith and the natural talent of a genius.

plus reviews of:

all this year's productions at Bayreuth, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Glyndebourne, Tristan und Isolde at Grange Park, the Ring in San Francisco, Paris and Milan/Berlin

two of Tony Palmer's key films on Wagner

a DVD recording of Der fliegende Holländer from Amsterdam.

CDs of classic performances from the Met under Schippers, Böhm and Klobucar

new guides to Parsifal and Tristan und Isolde

A dramaturgical analysis of the 2010 Bayreuth Lohengrin by Edward A. Bortnichak and Paula M. Bortnichak appears on the website only. Click here.

For more information The Wagner Journal
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Premiere: Siegfried, Kent Nagano, Den Nye Opera - 21 and 26 November

Sorry this is late but see what happens when you vanish for a little while. This production features what seems like half of LFOs Siegfried. However, I think tickets are still available for the 26th. See here for more.

21 and 24 November, 6 pm, Grieghallen

The stage is set for a big operatic event when star conductor Kent Nagano arrives to Den Nye Opera to conduct Wagner's Siegfried in concert version, the first ever performance of the entire opera in Bergen.

Kent Nagano has established himself as one of the most visionary and insightful interpreters of both opera and symphonic music. He has been artistic director for several leading orchestras and opera houses, including the Bayerische Staatsoper and the Hallé-orchestra in England.

Siegfried is performed by Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and a handpicked team of singers. Among them we find the great Wagner tenor Christian Franz, and rising star Alwyn Mellor, who has been praised for her interpretations of Brünnhilde.

"Christian Franz was a perfect Siegfried."
- San Francisco Chronicle

"Possessing the amplitude and genuine vocal resources of a Wagnerian soprano, [Alwyn Mellor] soars strongly all evening and is moving as the ultimately transfigured lover."
- The Sunday Telegraph
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Listen Now: Live at the Concertgebouw - Van Zweden conducts Bruckner's 3rd Plus Wagner's Faust Overture

You don't get the opportunity to hear the Faust that often, plus the Dutch premiere of Torstensson's  Polarhavet. To listen and for more information  click here: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Jaap van Zweden, conductor

Richard Wagner: Faust Overture
Klas Torstensson: Polarhavet (Dutch premiere)
Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 3
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Longborough Opera announce new Brünnhilde for 2012 plus full Ring Cycle Dates for 2013

As predicted back in August (read more here) LFO have today announced  that Rachel Nicholls will take over from Alywn Mellor as their Brunnhilde for the premiere of Götterdämmerung in 2012. LFO said today:

"We are delighted that Rachel Nicholls will be making her debut as Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung here at Longborough in July 2012. Rachel is one of the most versatile sopranos of her generation. She sang Fiordiligi at Longborough in 2007 and Helmwige in Die Walküre in 2010 to great acclaim"
It seems that Erda may have had a word in certain reviewers ears also, said the Times last year:

“…Rachel Nicholls’s gleaming Helmwige — a future Brünnhilde? — stood out from a gutsy band of Valkyries.”Helmwige: Die Walküre / Longborough Festival Opera / The Sunday Times

Although known mainly for her highly regarded baroque performances , Rachel made her debut at ROH in Parsifal and recently performed to much acclaim as Sieglinde alongside Richard Berkeley-Steele, Susan Bullock, and Sir John Tomlinson at The St Endellion Summer Festival.

The Wagnerian recently had the opportunity to catch up with Rachel where we managed to discuss her successful background in baroque, her developmeent into an  hochdramatischer sopran, working with her vocal coach the legendary Dame Anne Evans, the unique challenges of  performing Wagner, along with many other things. Look out for it in the next few days - including an exclusive sample of her Helmwige.

Also today, LFO released the dates for the first entire (and self funded) country house ring cycle in the UK. The dates, which consist of two full cycles, are:

16, 18, 20, 22 June 2013
28, 30 June 2, 4 July 2013

For more information on LFO, ticket requests and more,  visit the official website: Longborough Festival Opera

For more about Rachel, including, reviews and audio samples, visit her website: Rachel Nicholls

For an in-depth pictorial overview of LFOs Siegfried last year visit here: A Siegfried in Pictures - 2011
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Mahler - Symphony No. 10 - Inbal, Royal Concertgebouw, 2011

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 20 November 2011 | 9:18:00 pm

I am presently listening to Levine's  recording with the BSO. Alas, I couldn't find an extract of that online but found this during my search and thought it might be of interest:

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Listen on-demand: Tannhäuser - ROH, Semyon Bychkov, Johann Botha, Eva-Maria Westbroek

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 13 November 2011 | 7:55:00 am

From RTE Lyrica. Should be available for at at least the next 7 days

Click HERE to listen.

Overview from From Wagner Opera Net Blog (Always worth visiting if you don't already)

Tannhäuser at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Tannhäuser has returned to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in a new production by Tim Albery. On Mark Berry reviews the premiere, being especially positive towards the conductor and the cast:

"Above all," Mark Berry writes, "this return to the Royal Opera House of Tannhäuser proved a musical triumph. Semyon Bychkov’s conducting was superior even to that of his Lohengrin last year. He generally took his time, but the score never dragged, given that Wagner’s long line was ever secure – bar the odd occasion when abruptness cannot quite be ironed out of the score. Climaxes were sparing and therefore all the more powerful when they came. Perhaps most importantly of all, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House was on superlative form. Brass onstage and off were weightily impressive without brashness. The woodwind choir evoked a Middle Ages that may never actually have existed, but certainly did in Wagner’s imagination. As for the strings, one might well have thought them from Vienna, so beautiful was their sheen. Equally fine was the chorus and extra chorus, properly weighty of tone without undue sacrifice to verbal meaning; Renato Balsadonna had trained them very well."

Read Mark Berry's review of the ROH Tannhäuser on

Tannhäuser – Johan Botha
Elisabeth – Eva-Maria Westbroek
Venus – Michaela Schuster
Wolfram von Eschenbach – Christian Gerhaher
Hermann, Landgrave of Thuringia – Christof Fischesser
Biterolf – Clive Bayley
Walther von der Vogelweide – Timothy Robinson
Heinrich der Schreiber – Steven Ebel
Reimar von Zweter – Jeremy White
Shepherd Boy – Alexander Lee

Tim Albery (director)
Michael Levine (set designs)
Jon Morrell (costumes)
David Finn (lighting)
Jasmin Vardimon (choreography)
Maxine Braham (movement)

Royal Opera Chorus and Extra Chorus (chorus master: Renato Balsadonna)
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Semyon Bychkov (conductor)
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Andre Cluytens in rehearsal Tannhauser at Bayreuth 1965

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 12 November 2011 | 8:04:00 pm

Bayreuth, 1965. With Hermann Prey, Nils Meller, Ludmila Dvorakova
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Listen Live & On-demand: New Production: Götterdämmerung - Latvian National Opera 19/11/11

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 7 November 2011 | 1:13:00 am

"The auditorium of the old Stadttheater ...was a pretty gloomy place. A native of Riga (who later) compared it to a "barn" (while in) conversation with Wagner asked him how he had been able to conduct there. Wagner replied there were three things about this "barn" (that) had stayed in his mind: First was the steeply rising stalls, rather like an amphitheatre; the second was the darkness of the auditorium; and the third was the surprisingly deep orchestra pit. If ever he succeded in building a theatre to his own designs, he added, he would keep these three features in mind" C.F. Glasenapp: Das Leben Richard Wagner (1894-1911)

EDIT: Sorry, I have now updated the archive link so that it now works!

Live from Riga (a city that may be responsible for the design of Bayreuth (see here) the final part of Latvian National Opera's Ring Cycle will finally be premiered. You can catch it both live and on demand there after on Latvijas Radio 3 Klasika starting at 14:55 GMT (ish. Check timezone differences). It will then be available in LE3 Klasika's archives for sometime. To access the archive for this (after the 19th) go here and scroll down to the show at 14:55.


New production


19, 27 November 2011, 29 April, 10, 17 June 2012

Lars Cleveman (who sang a very fine Siegfried at the Royal
Swedish Opera - listen below)

Catherine Foster (Listen here)

Marcus Jupither

Johan Schinkler

Kosma Ranuer

Elisabet Strid

Liubov Sokolova

Liene Kinca

Aira Rurane

Kristine Zadovska

Cornelius Meister

Viesturs Kairiss

Set Designs:
Ieva Jurjane

Ieva Jurjane

More here and here
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Levine pulls of of METs new ‘Goetterdammerung’’ and news of the DVD release of the full cycle

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 5 November 2011 | 9:59:00 am

Due to his continuing illness, the MET has announced that James Levine will not be conducting the premiere of Gotterdamermerung on January the 27 or indeed any part of the first run there of. It will probably be of little surprise that  he will be replaced by Fabio Luisi

On Friday, Peter Gelb, the METs general manager said:

‘He’s feeling good. He’s in rehab and he continues to make improvements. He agrees and feels strongly that he wouldn’t want to return until he’s fully recovered. ‘‘I know that his doctors are optimistic that he will be able to eventually return, but there is no specific timetable.’’

Whether he will return for the full cycle in April is as yet unknown. Continued Gelb:

‘‘I’ve discussed it with Jim and we’ve agreed that within the next month or two we’re going to have to make a decision about the rest of the season,’’

Interestingly, Gelb did inadvertently provide some information on what has now been confirmed as the DVD release of the Cycle. Due to be released in Autumn 2012,  if and when Levine returns, they will not re-record Levine conducting either Siegfried or Goetterdammerung’. Said Gelb:

‘‘We have put enormous resources into producing these, and from a schedule point of view, from a financial resource point of view, for all those reasons, it’s absolutely impossible.

This will leave us with the unusual position of having a Ring Cycle on DVD where two parts are lead  by one conductor (Levine - Rheingold and Walkure) and the latter two by someone else.  
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Die Walküre - Act One (Bruno Walter 1935)

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday 2 November 2011 | 4:20:00 pm

Found lying around on youtube As far as I am aware, given its age, this now lies in the public domain: There are many CD remasters out there. If you don't have already, you might want to have a look at the Pristine or Naxos remasters

Performer: Lauritz Melchior, Lotte Lehmann, Emanuel List, Alfred Jerger, Ella Flesch 
Conductor: Bruno Walter. Vienna in 1935

Extract below from the Lotte Lehmann League

This recording sometimes appears on “essential” and “desert island” lists and, while I think some tenors come within belting distance of Melchior and I like some Sieglindes just as much as I admire Lehmann, and even prefer some of the recorded Hundings to Emanuel List, I will concede that it may, nevertheless, deserve its apparent consensus status as the best recording of this music. Certainly, Bruno Walter’s impassioned, powerful conducting has a lot to do with the performance’s effect. He was actually supposed to conduct a complete recording of the opera and “therein,” as the saying goes, “lies a tale.” The notion of recording the first complete Die Walküre was hatched at EMI sometime in the early 1930s. It was to be done in Berlin with Bruno Walter presiding over some of the outstanding Wagner singers of the day. By the time they got around to making the arrangements in 1935, the Nazi regime had made Walter persona non grata, so the recording site was shifted to Vienna. Along with the first act, both of the act II scenes involving Melchior and Lehmann and the one that includes List were also recorded. Since the Hunding appearance in the closing scene of the act also requires a Wotan and Brünnhilde, Alfred Jerger, not one of nature’s Wotans, and Ella Flesch made brief appearances. By the time EMI was ready for act II in 1938, the German takeover of Austria meant that Walter was unavailable in Vienna, so the recording scene shifted back to Berlin and a new conductor, Bruno Seidler-Winkler. Melchior was on hand for the “Todesverkundigung,” and he was joined by Marta Fuchs (Brünnhilde), Margarete Klose (Fricka), and Hans Hotter (Wotan). A slightly edited version of act II, with a few cuts, was recorded. The scenes that had already been recorded under Walter were slipped into the performance later on, how smoothly, I don’t know, since I never heard the 78s. I might point out that, when this act was put on CD, an additional cut was made by EMI so that it would fit on a single disc. The onset of World War II interrupted the project. In 1945, American Columbia finished the job when Helen Traubel, Herbert Janssen, and Artur Rodzinski recorded the third act. Thus, in 1946, you could purchase a nearly complete Die Walküre on 26 breakable shellac 78s, recorded by two companies, in three cities, on two continents, with three conductors, three orchestras (the Vienna and New York Philharmonics and the Berlin State Opera Orchestra), three Wotans, three Brünnhildes, and two Sieglindes (Irene Jessner, doubling as Ortlinde, was the other).

Although Melchior could outbelt any tenor of his time (and ours), his contribution to the recording goes beyond mere power—he actually creates a character—first exhausted, then intrigued by his hostess, rueful about his tribulations, and finally, passionately in love. Lehmann’s ability to go beyond the notes was never questioned, and List is certainly a strong, menacing Hunding. The sound won’t blow you away but it has ample power and clarity for 1935. At this stage of his career Walter was more virile and energetic than the kindly old philosopher promoted by Columbia toward the end of his career and one can only regret that EMI’s project languished—a 1930s Bruno Walter Ring would have been something to hear, but I would have settled for a Bruno Walter Die Walküre if this recording is an indication of what could have transpired.
 James Miller

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SIEGFRIED 'Heil dir, Sonne!' Varnay/Windgassen - Bayreuth/Keilberth 1955 (Stereo)

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 1 November 2011 | 9:35:00 pm

'Heil dir, Sonne!' (Brünnhilde's awakening)
Astrid Varnay
Wolfgang Windgassen
Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Joseph Keilberth
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Ben Heppner: Tristan und Isolde: Welsh National Opera (WNO) - 2012 Update

Update: We provide a Photo Preview here

I did say I would try to keep you updated. However, given that it is 12 months to first night, news is not "coming thick and fast" - as would be expected. Nevertheless, WNO have very kindly provided a little more detailed  information, together with some images of the 2006 revival. I have also included some reviews of the production from 2006.

Sung in German with English surtitles (Welsh in Wales Millennium Centre) First night 19 May 2012.

Photo: Bill Cooper
Tristan                                       Ben Heppner
King Marke                                Matthew Best
Isolde                                        Ann Petersen
Kurwenal                                   Phillip Joll
Melot                                         Simon Thorpe
Brangaene                                Susan Bickley
Shepherd                                  Chorus
Helmsman                                 Chorus
Sailor                                        Chorus
Conductor                                 Lothar Koenigs
Original Director                        Yannis Kokkos
Revival Director                         Peter Watson
Designer                                   Yannis Kokkos
Lighting Designer                      Guido Levi
Original Movement Director        Kate Flatt
Assistant Designer                    Muriel Trembleau
Staff Director                            Carmen Jakobi

Co-production with Scottish Opera

Reviews (2006 revival):

Rian Evans
The Guardian,  Monday 2 October 2006 

"Yannis Kokkos's 1993 staging of Tristan und Isolde for Welsh National Opera suggested an integrity of concept that would not date - and so it has proved. In Peter Watson's revival, its classic lines retained all their clarity while allowing Wagner's ecstatic poem to pervade and invade the senses."

Photo: Bill Cooper

George Hall: The Stage, Tuesday 3 October 2006

"Welsh National Opera revives Yannis Kokkos’ 1993 production of Wagner’s transcendent exploration of love and death in a distinguished performance. Kokkos’ self-designed staging is visually highly effective, presenting the opera’s narrative line with exceptional clarity and truth, and the semi-abstract sets have an aptly timeless quality.

This is another show that displays the world-class credentials of the Welsh company. Wagner fans should move heaven and earth to see this outstanding production as it tours over the next few weeks"

Neil Fisher: The Times, October 2006

"Yannis Kokkos’s production is more about suggestive abstraction. At times, the effect is striking — Tristan’s death, on a giant, protruding slab and lit by an eerie green glow, makes for a striking tableau."

Photo: Bill Cooper

More at: Welsh National Opera
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