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Opera Today

Listen to: ROH - Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg 1/1/12 (14:45 UK Time)

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 31 December 2011 | 5:24:00 pm

Should also be available for 7 days afterwards on demand on BBC Iplayer (Click here after the broadcast)

To listen online in HD click here

And on the plus side, at least you wont be able to see all of those codpieces

Wagner's Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg
Presented by Martin Handley

Hans Sachs...Wolfgang Koch (Baritone)
Walter von Stolzing...Simon O'Neill (Tenor)
Eva...Emma Bell (Soprano)
Sixtus Beckmesser...Peter Coleman-Wright (Baritone)
Veit Pogner...John Tomlinson (Bass)
David...Toby Spence (Tenor)
Magdalene...Heather Shipp (Mezzo soprano)
Kunz Vogelgesang...Colin Judson (Tenor)
Konrad Nachtigall...Nicholas Folwell (Baritone)
Fritz Kothner...Donald Maxwell (Baritone)
Hermann Ortel...Jihoon Kim (Baritone)
Balthazar Zorn...Martyn Hill (Tenor)
Augustin Moser...Pablo Bemsch (Tenor)
Eisslinger...Andrew Rees (Baritone)
Hans Foltz...Jeremy White (Bass)
Hans Schwarz..Richard Wiegold (Bass)
Nightwatchman...Robert Lloyd (Bass)
Conductor...Antonio Pappano
Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.


Wolfgang Koch as Hans Sachs


© ROH 2011 / Clive Barda

Emma Bell as Eva


© ROH 2011 / Clive Barda

Simon O'Neill as Walther


© ROH 2011 / Clive Barda

John Tomlinson as Pogner


© ROH 2011 / Clive Barda

Peter Coleman-Wright as Beckmesser


© ROH 2011 / Clive Barda

Toby Spence as David


© ROH 2011 / Clive Barda

The Masters


(L-R) Richard Wiegold As Schwarz, Jeremy White As Foltz, Jihoon Kim As Ortel, Simon O’neill As Walther, Nicholas Folwell As Nachtigall, Wolfgang Koch As Hans Sachs, Peter Coleman-Wright As Beckmesser, Donald Maxwell As Kothner, John Tomlinson As Pogner, Colin Judson As Vogelgesang, Martyn Hill As Zorn, Pablo Bemsch As Moser And Andrew Ress As Eisslinger
© Roh 2011 / Clive Barda

Wolfgang Koch as Hans Sachs


© Roh 2011 / Clive Barda


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Der Ring des Nibelungen: Residential Summer School, Edinburgh 2012

As we get closer to 2013, the number of special events around Wagner and his works will obviously intensify. My intention is to begin to detail as many of what appear to be the more interesting of these,  internationally, as possible. At sometime in the near future I intend to create a separate page for these in the form of an "event diary". However, in the meantime I will detail these individually here.

With that on mind one of the more interesting ones is a 7 day summer school being organized by the Wagner Society of Scotland, lead by Derek Watson - brief overview below,  taken from the brochure.


A Residential Summer School at Carberry Tower, East Lothian, near Edinburgh

15th - 22nd July 2012

Tutor: Derek Watson


Location:

Carberry Tower is set in private woodland, 8 miles east of Edinburgh.

Carberry Tower

Content

Study of The Ring of the Nibelung. A journey through the tetralogy which will survey the connecting web of leitmotifs, elucidate the text, and examine the underlying tonal structure scene by scene, with illustrations on piano and CD. Each drama will also be screened with DVDs from different productions. An extensive collection of books relating to the sources of the work and its production history will be provided for reference.

Just as at Bayreuth, the Summer School will allow space for rest and reflection, so periods of free time and optional sightseeing are built into the programme. Two half-day excursions will be available to historic East Lothian and the National Trust Inveresk Lodge Garden; with the alternative option of watching films related to the Ring and Bayreuth; or you may just wish to relax! There are also pleasant walks in the surrounding parkland. Participants have exclusive use of all public rooms at Carberry including the two libraries and the L-shaped drawing room. A licensed bar is available for the sale of drinks.

Further Information:

D. Watson (Derek has lectured on opera since the early 1970s. He is a composer and the author of books on Bruckner, Wagner and Liszt. He has contributed to many journals and broadcast programmes.)

Deanfoot House

West Linton

Peeblesshire

EH46 7EA

email derek@lintonbooks.plus.com

Telephone 01968 660339


Presented by the Wagner Society Of Scotland
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Free Download: Preludes to "Die Meistersinger" & "Parsifal" Fritz Reiner 1938

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 29 December 2011 | 2:00:00 pm


Found over at the wonderful, and voluntary, Archive.org. Transfered from the Victor 78s. Free and in the public domain (well you wouldn't expect  us to pay for anything)


2:00:00 pm | 0 comments | Read More

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Marek Janowski) Now available.

A little late it would seem,  I was under the impression that this was not due for release till the 16 January 2012 (at least in the UK) and indeed this is the case - but on CD/SACD only. It is however available as either an MP3 or Flac download  from the usual suspects: Amazon, Itunes, Emusic, Presto Classical, etc (Although Flac only seems to be available from Presto Classical at the moment).

I have not been able to investigate it greatly so far but will certainly say, provisionally,  that orchestrally, if perhaps not vocally (not that it is vocally impotent in anyway), this is one of the finer Meistersingers available.



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Watch now (on demand) Pierre Boulez and the Orchestre de Paris play Schoenberg and Bartok (inc: Verklärte Nacht) 2 hrs 26

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 28 December 2011 | 4:10:00 pm


Slightly off topic I appreciate but I thought to good not to share and you do get Verklärte Nacht! Will remain available for about 6 months from now but why wait.


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Vague Connection to Wagner No 1: Charles Kingsley - "Freya" 1852


Out of the morning land,
Over the snow-drifts,
Beautiful Freya came,
Tripping to Scoring.
White were the moorlands,
And frozen before her:
Green were the moorlands,
And blooming behind her.
Out of her gold locks
Shaking the spring flowers,
Out of her garments
Shaking the south wind,
Around in the birches
Awaking the throstles,
And making chaste housewives all
Long for their heroes home,
Loving and love-giving,


Came she to Scoring.
Extract from: The Longbeards´ Saga. A.D. 400
  Charles Kingsley



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UK Premiere of Jonathan Harvey's Opera around the last few moments of Wagner's death: "Wagner Dream" Sunday 29 Jan 2012

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 25 December 2011 | 9:15:00 am

Premiered at the Grand Theatre Luxembourg on April 28, 2007, Jonathan Harvey's "Wagner Dream" (with a libretto by Jean-Claude Carrière)  will receive its UK premiere, in a semi-staged production, at  Barbican Hall, 29 January 2012 . Cast details below.

The opera, takes Wagner's never, as I am sure you are aware,  completed Buddhist opera Die Sieger (The Victors) as its starting point, with the dying Wagner seeing it complete in his last few moments. Into this mix enters Cosima and Carrie Pringle.  The video below is the trailer of the Luxemberg production in 2007 and will provide a taster of the opera for those unfamiliar (it will not be the same production).



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German Union DGB, criticizes Bayreuth's ticket prices - after they lose their annual closed performances.

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 23 December 2011 | 5:32:00 pm

I wasn't going to report this, instead I was going to leave it till I compiled an article on all of Bayreuth's new changes to ticket allocations. However, I came across a prominent  English language source that recently seemed to misrepresent what had taken place and thought it worth clarifying - or at least as well as my operatic German will allow.

Up until 2009 there were two so called "closed" performance at Bayreuth were tickets were allocated to  members of the German workers union DGB,  at heavily discounted prices. In 2009 this was dropped from two days to one. However, Bayreuth has now announced the end of  this remaining day and thus the end of  any discounted tickets to members of the DGB.

Toni Schmid, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Festival, has stated that this is a result of criticisms made against the Festival regarding ticket allocation, following an investigation by the Bundesrechnungshof, the federal audit office (see my report on this here). She went onto to say that as a result of this Bayreuth must make more tickets available to the general public.

Unsurprisingly DGB, Chair Matthias Jena, has responded negatively to the announcement stating that the festival management is turning its back on its founders principles. Wagner, he said, intended the festival to be for the people not for the rich.

More as things develop.
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Stuart Pendred to peform Hagen in LFO Götterdämmerung 2013

A newcomer to Longborough this year will be Stuart Pendred, singing Hagen in Götterdämmerung. Stuart trained as an actor and his career has spanned film, television, theatre, musicals, radio and the music industry including two solo album projects. Stuart’s operatic and oratorio performances include Escamillo Carmen – Impact Opera; Baron Duphol La Traviata – Opera Bearwood; Escamillo Carmen; Sarastro The Magic Flute for New Vic Opera; Marullo Rigoletto and Tristan & Isolde for Grange Park Opera and Sciarrone Tosca and Montano Otello for Dorset Opera; Handel’s Messiah and Brahm’s German Requiem

More about Stuart at his official Website - www.stuartpendred.com

More about Longborrough Festival Opera - http://www.lfo.org.uk
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A brief explanation of Wagner's Ring Cycle Leitmotifs

Taken from the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series, members of the Metropolitan Opera Brass section explain and demonstrate Wagner's use of leitmotifs throughout his Ring Cycle.


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Wagner’s famous piano to be lost to Bayreuth once more?

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 22 December 2011 | 3:12:00 pm

The centre of the argument
Bayreuth and Leipzig may not be such good bedfellows after all

As everyone knows, King Ludwig II adored Wagner. Indeed, a story told so many times that I have no need to tell here once again. Equally well known, is that as part of this adoration he was forever showering Wagner with gifts. One such gift, presented to Wagner on his 51st birthday, was a Bechstein piano (interesting piece of trivia, the first time a Bechstein piano was used in a public performance was by Hans von Bülow playing Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor in 1857!). Now of course Wagner had more than one  piano, including his beloved Steinway acquired later – yet it is certainly of historical interest and was used, at least in part  and perhaps overall all -   to compose Meistersinger, Siegfried Act 3, Götterdämmerung and Parsifal.. As such, it is an important part of the Richard Wagner Museum in Bayreuth. But surprisingly it hasn’t been there for that long

Upon Wagner’s death the piano naturally fell into the ownership of Siegfried and then of course into the ownership of Winifred. Sometime early during WW2 Winifred sent the piano to a company in Leipzig for repair. However, in the ensuing chaos of the war the piano become lost and its whereabouts unknown. Then in 1998 Sven Friedrich, director of the Bayreuth Wagner Museum, happened to be visiting the Museum Of Musical Instruments in Leipzig when he happened across it – it is after all difficult to miss as it bears a rather large brass plague across the front with the words (in German) "Built for Richard Wagner in 1863 - Fixed in 1925"!

Negotiations quickly ensued between both sides and finally the piano was returned to Bayreuth in 1999 – albeit on “loan” for ten years.

Now, this is where things start to get messy:  the loan agreement, a binding contract, has now expired and either the piano should have been returned or a new agreement signed but Bayreuth is having none of it and refused to return it, perhaps understandable given the circumstances. Leipzig Museum responded by suing the Wagner foundation for the return of the piano but this November they lost their case and Bayreuth gained ownership. The museum in Leipzig is now appealing.


Wagner's Steinway
Now, all of this may seem messy enough, but this is the famous Wagners we are discussing and things can only get more complicated. In a surprise, but highly tactical move, Iris Wagner, daughter of the late Wagner's grandson Wieland Wagner, is now suing both Bayreuth and Leipzig for ownership of the piano! Her claim is that the piano is the personal inheritance of the Wagner family and should come into joint ownership, of her, Nike, Catherine. Etc. The plan is that they will then present it to the Wagner Museum as a permanent display.

The City Of Leipzig is of course unimpressed, with Hans-Georg Fieseler, General Counsel of the Leipzig culture department saying, he cannot understand the actions of the Wagners and Bayreuth Foundation, as they have clearly broken an agreement between museums. He went on to say that  Leipzig had informed the Wagner Museum they would renegotiate the loan agreement and extend it willingly but that this had been ignored.

The Wagners have declined to comment

Whatever the moral arguments - on both sides -  it is now firmly in the hands of the German court system. Nevertheless, one cannot help wonder how this will influence the working relationships between both cities during the tightly connected bicentennial program in 2013?

More as things develop.
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Video Lecture: "The Global Marketing of Wagner" Nicholas Vazsonyi

Another video lecture from Bayreuth as part of the Wagner Worldwide program. Here Vazsonyi  expands and discuses some of the ideas in his book Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand.

And for none German speakers, before Vazsonyi is presented, the first 25 minutes  are in the German, but it then switches to English when he begins his lecture. So don't panic! Simply forward to around 25 minutes (of these 2 hour video) and everything will become understandable.


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Watch Now: Marek Janowski discusses Wagner and PentaTone's new Wagner Edition.

Excellent interview. Enlightening and well worth watching. A must see in my opinion - especially for those interested in the controversies around so called Regietheater and the power opera director verses the power of the director. Recorded November 2011


1:38:00 am | 0 comments | Read More

Watch Now: Mozart Drama Documentary - 3 hours

UPDATE: I have been informed that people in some parts of the world are stopped by youtube from viewing. I would suspect that this is because this is a BBC documentary and is for copyright reasons. If you in in a country where this is blocked I am really sorry.

Something else found lying around on youtube. Amazing place. I am sure I don't need to explain to even those new to Wagner, the relevance of posting a documentary on Mozart here - I hope!


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Video lecture: "Gender and Wagner's Music" - Eva Rieger

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 | 5:39:00 pm

Part of the Wagner Worldwide lecture series. Among other works, alas not all translated into English, Rieger is the author of Wagner's Women  (which has been translated) This video, like much of this lecture series, is probably not for the general viewer but Wagner "nerds" only. Although, Rieger is a lucid speaker.



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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Royal Opera House (ROH) Review Roundup

“Wahn, Wahn, überall Wahn” while Wagner – and indeed Schopenhauer if he had done so – was certainly using it in a very different way, it is a phrase that I am often reminded of when reading a variety of reviews on the same production.  Let us forget for a moment any thought of the “Will” (either to “live” or indeed “power”) and let us also ignore any associations with clinical psychosis - or neurosis even.  Further, let us remove the usual translation of “madness” (very unlikely to be taken literally in any clinical sense given Wagner’s favoured philosopher and its use within the opera) but instead let us use a different and no less valid translation:  of delusion or self deception. Although again not the only translations but the ones that best serve our purposes here.  Now, with that very weakly established definition, one can say with some certainty that all “delusion” is the result of a combination of the sense receptors and perhaps most importantly, in most cases, sense processing facilities of the individual in combination with our ”personal history”  - as I am sure pop psychology books would say.  And we are all of course prone to these “delusions”. In its extremes this is as simple as one person reading Dan Brown and finding it, to them,  fine literature with great secrets to be revealed while another  can’t help laughing at its, again to them, inane prose, ridiculous plot, and badly stolen, and already well investigated  concepts.  Indeed, is this not the very centre of all conflict? Militarily and political? Economic and social? Perhaps not, but it certainly doesn’t help.  And with that pop psychology firmly in mind, let us now turn to our review round-up where I think we will find our very loosely argued concepts of individual sense processing never so clearly apparent – especially in regard to the performances. “Wahn” indeed seems to be “everywhere” -  although, not completely everywhere.

Production:

Graham Vick’s production is now nearly 20 years old and to me has always seemed even older, holding many of the sensibilities of a certain type of 80’s theatre – primary colours a plenty and a certain “naivety”, and even escapism, that seemed to be the response of some to the large scale social changes at that time – especially from the late 80’s onward (and of course, the “80’s”, extended longer into the 90’s than many might admit).  The City was collapsing (again) but those dear old yuppies where looking to escape it all in “highbrow” but “cheerful “theatre.  They may have really wanted a “prawn cocktail” for “starters” but they weren’t letting on just yet.    Saying that, it is easy to see such things in hindsight – assuming I am even mildly correct – and it was without doubt a critical success leaving many reviewers and ordinary “punters” with fond memories, but has it passed the test of time? 

Let us turn first to now noted Wagnerian Mark Berry (regular contributor to the Wagner Journal and no mean musical academic now) , who admits this was his first Meistersinger “back in the day” in 2000 (this all makes me feel very old indeed) . Mark (MB)? What did you think of it back then?


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LFO's Siegfried, Daniel Brenna, to make Bayreuth debut in 2013.

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 | 3:35:00 pm

As regular readers maybe aware I was something of a fan of Daniel Brenna's very youthful Siegfried at LFO back in July.. With that in mind, it is good to note that the Wagners seemed impressed also, as he will be making his debut at Bayreuth in 2013 when Das Liebesverbot premieres there for the first time, taking the central role of Claudio. Of course not even the present occupiers would perform  this early work in the Festspielhaus itself (goodness knows what the acoustics there would do with that overture) but as reported here it will be performed just down the hill at Bayreuth Oberfrankenhalle. and of course also in Leipzig. Nevertheless, it remains firmly  part of the 2013 festival - under the auspices of the Wagners.

Now, as regular readers will also be aware I will take any excuse to play the overture from Das Liebesverbot and with that in mind:


Wolfgang Sawallisch & Bavaria State Orchestra.
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Sir John Tomlinson discusses the ROH revival of Meistersingers

. Photo by Clive Barda

If there was only one reason to catch the ROH revival it would surely be the presence of Sir John. With that in mind he has been discussing why he feels it is such an extraordinary drama  and his new role as Pogner. He did so at a two part blog over at the ROH. I present part one below, part two can be found by following the link below.

This month’s revival of Graham Vick’s acclaimed production sees Sir John Tomlinson shift roles from Hans Sachs, the selfless cobbler at the centre of the opera to the character of Pogner. During this run Wolfgang Koch will play Sachs, and Sir John speaks with approval of “the natural turning of the pages of the generations. Wolfgang is 20 years younger than me. It’s right that that should happen.”

Sir John sees both roles as key in the story: “Pogner gets the story off the ground by the grandiose act of giving his daughter as the prize for the singing contest on Midsummer’s Day. He spreads goodness and believes in art, in music and the cause of the Meistersingers. On the other hand, Sachs takes a back seat at the beginning – he comes to the fore later. He’s a classic Wagnerian character in that he relinquishes his love of the daughter because he sees that the daughter and Walther, the young knight, are in love. He gives up his own entitlement to her. There’s nothing he’d like more than to marry Eva and have 20 children with her but he sees her and Walther’s love and makes it work out for them, in spite of all the complexities”.

The role is a mammoth undertaking for any singer: “Sachs is on stage for four hours and sings for two and half of those. I think it’s the longest operatic role ever written but probably due to the role’s very personable and human nature, it doesn’t give the impression of overwhelming length.” As such, preparation is key. “It’s a bit like running a marathon,” Sir John says, “It’s a very physically demanding role as a lot of the power comes from the diaphragmatic muscles. They’re important in supporting the sound over a long period of time, which is why a lot of Wagnerians have got that chunky figure. Even a lot of singers who look slim are often very muscular.”

So what is it about Richard Wagner that has inspired Sir John to devote a sizeable part of his career to the composer’s work? “One of Wagner’s great philosophies was that of Gesamtkunstwerk – a total work of art. He wanted a continual dramatic flow and hence the combination of acting and singing. Orchestrally too there’s a lot of fantastic thematic material – leitmotifs. What’s great is that these themes develop along with the characters. The music tells these dramatic stories at deeper levels than often the characters are aware of. It’s very clever and extremely rich.

“For some people there are a lot of political overtones and baggage with Wagner’s work in particular Meistersinger – it was after all Hitler’s favourite piece, I don’t deal with that though, I deal with the piece itself. As a singer that’s what you’re focussed on: the words, the text, the notes, the relationship between the characters. For me, if you play the piece in 1542 I don’t regard the piece as being remotely fascist. There is a hint of nationalism but no more than many operas – Billy Budd for example. Rule Britannia contains a nationalist idea but when we all sing along on the last night of the Proms, we don’t take it very seriously,” then as if to leave no doubt, he says emphatically, “There’s nothing about Meistersinger that upsets me politically or ethically. It’s a wonderful piece because it’s a very sophisticated text. There’s great drama and the music is just glorious – it’s great theatre.”

Read part two over at the ROH blog by clicking here
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Free audio book (listen online or download) Shaw's "The Perfect Wagnerite"

George Bernard Shaw
This is part of the voluntary project known as Librivox  and is in the public domain (click here for information and how to volunteer should you have the time and inclination).

Read, very well indeed by Bob Neufeld

The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Niblung's Ring (originally published London, 1898) is a philosophical commentary on Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, by the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw. Shaw offered it to those enthusiastic admirers of Wagner who "were unable to follow his ideas, and do not in the least understand the dilemma of Wotan." He interprets the Ring in Marxian terms as an allegory of the collapse of capitalism from its internal contradictions. Musicologically, his interpretation is noteworthy for its perception of the change in aesthetic direction beginning with the final scene of Siegfried, in which he claimed that the cycle turns from Musikdrama back towards opera

For further information, including links to online text, reader information, RSS feeds, CD cover or other formats (if available), please go to the LibriVox catalog page for this recording.
To listen Online Press Play on the player below



To download each chapter in MP3 select the links below:

00 - Prefaces and Encouragements 22.3 MB

01 - The Ring of the Niblungs/The Rhine Gold 38.1 MB

02 - Wagner As Revolutionist 13.3 MB

03 - The Valkyries 19.9 MB

04 - Siegfried 24.8 MB

05 - Back To Opera Again - Siegfried Concluded 32.0 MB

06 - Night Falls On The Gods 25.2 MB

07 - Forgotten Ere Finished/Why He Changed His Mind 22.2 MB

08 - Wagner's Own Explanation/The Pessimist As Amorist 15.8 MB

09 - The Music of The Ring 36.3 MB

10 - Bayreuth/Wagnerian Singers 12.5 MB

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René Kollo to go back on the road, this time reading from his new novel.

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 19 December 2011 | 11:38:00 pm

In case you missed, Rene Kollo - yes that Rene Kollo - has written his first novel. No, not a memoir, but a psychological thriller called, wait for it, The Murder of Little Tannhauser. While it took him ten years to write it (in fairness, between engagments,) and despite it's title is nothing to do with that Tannhauser or opera at all.


While  I am sure that is nothing new,  should you wish to catch him reading excerpts, and perhaps a little singing, you can catch him doing so in January - details below. Anyway, that's my excuse for a little Kollo Siegfried out of the way

Tickets  available now online and www.kulturverein mettingen.de.
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Antonio Pappano discuss the ROH's Meistersinger, Ring Cycle, Tosca on TV and at last mentions Parsifal 2013

Pappano: "Is that an iceberg I see before me?
The ROH marketing and press departments often remind me of an iceberg: big, slow and cumbersome till it hits you at the last minute with so much that you sink under the weight. Notice their revival of Meistersingers: one announcement and then nothing (just a little ripple) - they don't even have any pictures of previous revivals. But then the production gets so close, you can see it off your starboard bow. It's at this moment that you find you have run-a-bow of them, smack right in the face, where they have lain sleeping like a rather old and unsociable Poseidon, who in all truth, has lost his appetite for the whole thing (maybe he has gone comatose from all those productions of Traviata?) . 

In the past few days they have been hitting us with a number of interviews in the press. One assumes as part of this,  in Friday's Guardian Nicholas Wroe, interviews Pappano (part of which can be found below), wherein he discusses the new Meistersingers, Ring Cycle and, wait for it Parsifal,  in 2013 (actually it would seem to be 2012 from the article but trust me on this - I think) . Parsifal? A new production? From the ROH? Another opera house would be oiling the publicity machine as we speak (there are still far to many tickets available for Meistersinger for such a popular production in my opinion)  but what would I know? And where did you hear about it first, including who will play Parsifal? Well, here actually back in August - unless of course you heard it somewhere else first. 

Anyway, enough from me over to the Maestro:

This year's BBC Christmas treats for opera lovers will be prepared and hand-delivered by Antonio Pappano. On New Year's Day he will conduct a live radio broadcast from the Royal Opera House of Wagner'sMeistersinger. But before then, on Christmas Eve, he presents an hour long television introduction to Tosca, which will be followed by the recent Covent Garden production under his baton starring Angela Gheorghiu, Bryn Terfel and Jonas Kaufmann. Pappano, whose Opera Italia series aired last year, has rapidly become the television face of the art form and his introduction to Tosca sees him enthusiastically exploring the Roman sites utilised by Puccini as well as behind the scenes rehearsal footage.

"So there is plenty of Angela, Bryn and Jonas," Pappano explains. "And having those three together was quite something. They ensure the production is absolutely full of beans. But there does seem a need for a front man for opera and classical music at the moment, so I present the programme and do most of the yapping. To have the chance to get people excited about something you are excited about is a huge opportunity. We keep talking about opera as if everybody knows all about it. But not everybody does, so I think it is part of my job to tell them. Tosca might be a highly compelling story that almost anyone will instantly enjoy, but if you have just a little more historical background, a little more knowledge of what Puccini was trying to achieve, then you really do get so much more out of it."

Pappano, who comes from a southern Italian family and has been music director of the city's prestigious orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia since 2005, is an ideal choice to talk about a Rome-based opera. But he has an equally strong claim to be a local hero back at his Covent Garden base, where he will celebrate 10 years as music director early next year. He was brought up in 1960s London and even hazily remembers being taken to a Covent Garden Il Trovatore as a child. "It did make an impression in that the very dark staging of the gypsy fire scene has stayed with me. But it was a long time ago. A lot has happened in between."

The circuitous route he embarked upon before returning to Covent Garden to succeed Bernard Haitink as music director took in emigration to America, an education as a jobbing piano-player, and highly regarded behind the scenes work at some of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. But when he did return to London he was almost immediately reminded of his roots. Entering a backstage lift just after being appointed music director he vaguely recognised a stage hand. "We sort of looked at each other and then worked it out. We'd been to primary school together. He was now working in the flies. It was quite a reminder that essentially I was returning home."

Pappano says he can scarcely believe that he has now been in charge for 10 years. "I have to say it's been a wonderful journey, because there have been so many twists and turns. But we have managed to survive and even thrive and now we have an even stronger bond with the audience; we're a very tight-knit family within the house. The hope as a musician is always that you continue to develop and get better over time. That can only happen in an atmosphere of trust such as we have here."

Looking back over a decade of productions he, reluctantly, identifies some key works. He claims great affection for his first London opera,Ariadne auf Naxos, as well as citing a "not universally liked" Lulu, "that nevertheless was very important for us in terms of building teamwork", a "conventional" Marriage of Figaro that was "sort of perfect in its direction and bite", Richard Jones's controversial staging of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, a Wozzeck, Tristan and, this year, Mark-Anthony Turnage'sAnna Nicole, which put drug abuse, boob jobs and octogenarian sex on the Covent Garden stage in recounting the rise and fall of the late playboy model. "There was an element of overcoming doubts and fears with Anna Nicole, but when we began work, it clearly meant everything to everybody. You should have seen the place during that period – everyone was on point and working very, very hard from the same page. But the thing about that list of productions, and many others I could have mentioned, is that they are all very different in style. And that has been a large part of the appeal for me – and, I hope, the audience."

Next week Pappano leads the company in a revival of their much-acclaimed Graham Vick-directed Meistersinger. "For a musician, there is no other piece that gives so much back. It is steeped in the history of German music and you have these two very different styles in a work that will always be somehow contemporary because it contains this conflict between new ideas and old traditions." In a way Meistersinger acts as an appetiser for next season's complete Ring cycle, directed by Keith Warner, which Pappano will conduct for the second time. "It is wonderful to have the chance to bring it back. To develop it further and really work on it. Seeing it all together reveals the amazing logic and cohesion of the whole thing. And it is great to do a house piece in which everyone is involved. It is one of the most satisfying experiences and I'm delighted that we have several large-scale works coming up over the next few years." Pappano's current contract keeps him in London until 2014, but he has already scheduled work beyond then and talks enthusiastically about an upcoming Verdi's Sicilian Vespers, a new Parsifal and Berlioz's vast Trojans, which will form part of the the house's 2012 Olympic year celebrations. "People say it's a bit cheesy when I talk about working like a big family on some of these things. But it is true. And I know better than most what it's like to make music in a family."
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Peter Coleman-Wright discuess being Sixtus Beckmesser in the ROH revival

From the Australian Times
Will Fitzgibbon
RENOWNED Australian baritone, Peter Coleman-Wright, does not have the air of a sour, narrow-minded stickler for the rules.

But that is precisely who Coleman-Wright is now in London to be.

The Geelong-born baritone of international renown will be performing opera’s most famous misanthrope Sextus Beckmesser in the Royal Opera House’s latest production of Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.

“The wonderful director Elaine [Padmore] said ‘credit card up your backside’,” Coleman-Wright says jovially, explaining his 2011 interpretation of Beckmesser.

All visible signs suggest that Coleman-Wright has well understood the direction; from the couch he draws himself up tautly and puckers his lips in an accurate physical representation of what a visa card in the wrong place can do.

This season’s appearance at the Royal Opera House is Coleman-Wright’s latest appearance in London after having cut his operatic teeth here as a highly-talented (if inexperienced) 21 year-old just out of the Victorian College of the Arts.

“I came to London in the beginning of 1980 with no credentials, no experience, nothing,” he remembers. “I just came straight here. People didn’t do that.”

He quickly reels off his biography as though moving from backyard cricket in Geelong to stages at Covent Garden, La Scala and the Met Opera was an unremarkable and inevitable progression.

Coleman-Wright’s British-tinged accent is evidence of a long life and career spent in the United Kingdom. Five years ago, however, he and his wife, fellow opera star soprano Cheryl Barker, and young son decided to buy a house back in Sydney.

But when it comes to singing, London is still Coleman-Wright’s destination of choice.

This is the first time Coleman-Wright has sung the role of Beckmesser and the first time for any Australian baritone in the wildly successful production by Graham Vick, which premiered in 1993 at Covent Garden.

Die Meistersinger is the story of two lovers whose unity is conditional on a singing competition organised by the girl’s father and undermined by conspiring wannabe warbler Beckmesser.

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An introduction and Audio review of the new Furtwangler sets on EMI plus "Hitler's Conductor"

An introduction to Furtwangler and a review of the new Wilhelm Furtwängler: The Great EMI Recordings (EMI: 9078782)

From NPR. A little condescending in parts but it is for a more general audience, as I think NPR can be, yet certainly worth listening to. Having all of Furts recordings in various issues and releases this is not one that I own - as yet. I have also include the NPR feature from 2003 "William Furtwangler: Hitler's conductor"


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Watch Now: Gundula Kreuzer's lecture on the new MET Ring Cycle (1 hr 30 mins)

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 18 December 2011 | 11:34:00 am

A lecture which is part of Wagner Worldwide 2013. While interesting and intriguing for us Wagner "nerds" only I would suspect

Gundula Kreuzer (Yale University, USA) discuess  the new "Ring"-Production of Robert Lepage at the Metropolitan Opera, New York with the title: "Performance, Media, Authenticity: Technologies of
(Re)production and the Metropolitan Opera's new 'Ring'"

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17/12/11 - Free Broadcast: Lohengrin: Franz Völker, Maria Müller, etc Recorded 1942

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 17 December 2011 | 5:18:00 am

Muller/Volker Bayreuth 1936

Lohengrin: Franz Völker, Elsa von Brabant: Maria Müller, Heinrich der Vogler: Ludwig Hofmann, Friedrich von Telramund: Jaro Prohaska, Ortrud: Margarete Klose, Heerrufer des Königs: Walter Grossmann.Chor der Staatsoper Berlin, Staatskapelle Berlin, Leitung: Robert Heger, 1942. (3 hrs., 30 min.)

When?

17/12/11

Time?

1900 GMT

Where?

RADIO STEPHANSDOM
Vienna, AUSTRIA

Links?

Click Radio Stephansdom above. Or the link below:

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Christine Brewer: Brunnhilde, Beethoven and Strauss - A busy few months ahead

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 16 December 2011 | 4:25:00 am

Dominant as ever in the concert hall this winter, Christine Brewer – styled “the ideal modern Wagnerian soprano” by the Los Angeles Times – joins the San Francisco Symphony and guest conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen for three concert performances of excerpts from Götterdämmerung, the closing chapter of Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle (Dec 8-10). Following her recent account of the German composer’s Wesendonck Lieder with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony, “a performance that was a model of vocal allure and musical intelligence” (South Florida Classical Review), Brewer reprises the work – coupled with Beethoven’s “Ah! perfido” – with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Ward Stare (Jan 20 & 21). She returns to Beethoven for four performances of the Missa solemnis with the Boston Symphony led by Kurt Masur, first at the orchestra’s Boston home (Feb 23-25) and then at New York’s Carnegie Hall (March 6). Early in the new year, the “superlative Strauss singer” (New York Times) assays the great late Romantic’s Four Last Songs with the St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson (Jan 13 & 14).

It was with the Missa solemnis that the Grammy Award-winning soprano helped the New York Philharmonic close out the 2009-10 season, prompting the New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini to report: “Brewer sang splendidly, floating the soaring solo lines yet bringing some Wagnerian intensity even to hushed pianissimos.” With the Boston Symphony – at both Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall – Brewer will be joined by mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, New Zealand tenor Simon O'Neill, and bass-baritone Eric Owens.

Brewer: Strauss - Befreit

A week after her Carnegie Hall appearance, the soprano will make her much-anticipated Los Angeles Opera debut (March 14 & 17), starring in the hit Santa Fe Opera production of Albert Herring, which she headlined last season. In Santa Fe Opera’s new staging,Benjamin Britten’s comic opera proved to be “the hit of the season,” and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praised the production’s “first-rate cast,” naming Brewer the standout star who “gave a terrific performance in every particular.” The Santa Fe New Mexicanconfirmed that although “Santa Fe Opera fills the leading roles with a cast that spills into the realm of the starry … the show is stolen by the soprano Christine Brewer.” At LA Opera, Brewer will be joined, as in Santa Fe, by tenor Alek Shrader in the title role, under Paul Curran’s direction. James Conlon, the company’s Music Director, will conduct.


On Mother’s Day, the versatile soprano presents a recital of music by Samuel Barber, Alan Smith, Charles Ives, Virgil Thomson with her regular collaborator, pianist Craig Rutenberg, at New York’s Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center (May 13). The recital also includes a premiere of a song setting by Alan Smith of a poem that Brewer’s daughter Elisabeth wrote called "For the Color of My Mother.”

Mother’s Day is not the only American custom Brewer honors each year: another is the backyard Hootenanny that she and her family, natives of Lebanon, Illinois, have hosted around Labor Day for the past quarter-century. As Brewer explains, what has since grown into a time-honored tradition began quite spontaneously:

“My husband plays guitar and dulcimer, I play guitar, harmonica, sometime mandolin; my cousin’s a very good guitarist, and we had a good friend who played banjo. We got some bales of hay and put them in our back yard and invited a few friends and neighbors – we had maybe 20 or 30 folks that first time.

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Toby Spence & Meistersinger von Nürnberg:"A little piece of self love"?

From today's "Independent"

It never hurts an performerto have a little self-love. Take tenor Toby Spence, limbering up to sing the youthful David in the revival of Graham Vick's excellent production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Covent Garden. David is not a crucial role in the drama, but a very crucial one in the musical fabric. "As Tony Pappano said to me," Spence explains, "he's the bubbles in the champagne – a charming, youthful spirit, a teenager. Unlike the other characters he doesn't take himself seriously. When he appears, the message to the audience is that they can sit back and relax."

And since the boyish Spence is 42 going on 22, he agrees that he's well cast. He approvingly surveys his physique: "I think I'm lucky."

When I meet him, he's recovering from the throat infection that reduced him to walking on for two performances in Deborah Warner's Eugene Onegin at ENO. This was a loss to the show since he was the best thing in it – the thinking he does around each role he plays being the key. He's now thinking about Wagner, and about the perennial tainting of Die Meistersinger with its Nazi past. "It's time people moved on and accepted the idea of German pride without Nazi connotations. It's pitiful, the way people still keep writing books about the Nazis –what more is there to say?"

'Die Meistersinger', Royal Opera House, London WC2 (www.roh.org.uk) 19 December to 8 January 2012
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Robert Dean Smith leaves Wagner for an affair with an obnoxious American

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 | 8:21:00 pm

Taken from an interview in Joplin Globe. For more follow the link at the bottom.


Area man makes name on opera stages

By Roger McKinney
news@joplinglobe.com
Robert Dean Smith is performing through the end of the year in the lead male role in Puccini’s opera “Madama Butterfly” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Smith, 55, is no stranger to the Met. This is his third opera there. His first time on the Met stage, in 2008, was unplanned and broadcast to movie theaters nationwide.

Smith — often described with the preface “American tenor” — grew up in Chetopa, Kan., graduating in 1974 from Chetopa High School. He went on to Pittsburg State University, where he graduated with two bachelor’s degrees in music in 1980. From there, he went on to complete his master’s degree in 1982 at New York’s Juilliard School.

Click here to watch a video of Robert Dean Smith performing a piece by Mahler in May at Leipzig, Germany.

Smith said his time at PSU was an important step toward his career. He said there were several professors who were both knowledgeable and inspiring.

“There was a lot of positive influence” at PSU, he said. “It formed my whole way of thinking for my career after that.

“Coming from Chetopa, I knew that there was another world out there — the music world. But I didn’t have any access to it. I was able to find that world or at least able to get started at Pittsburg.”

Smith lives in the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland with his wife, Janice Harper. They met during his first opera, at the end of which his character and Harper’s character were married. He called it a premonition.

“It’s the classic love story,” he said.

When Smith switched from baritone to tenor several years back, he said he asked his wife to be his teacher. He said it has been an ideal arrangement.

“I feel like a professional tennis player who travels with his coach,” he said.

He said his routine on days he isn’t performing is to do about an hour of voice warm-up followed by two hours or more of singing practice. Rehearsals involve two to three hours each morning and each afternoon. On performance days, he does the hour of warm-up before performing.

He said he tries to protect his voice by limiting his talking on performance days and the day before. He avoids going out and socializing much while performing.

‘MADAMA BUTTERFLY’

In “Madama Butterfly,” Smith’s role is Lt. Pinkerton, an American Navy lieutenant who falls in love with a beautiful Japanese woman, Cio-Cio-San, known as Madama Butterfly, who is performed by Liping Zhang. His military duty calls him away.

“That’s the kind of jerk, cad that he is,” Smith said.

When Pinkerton finds out he has a child with Cio-Cio-San, he returns with his American wife and wants the child. In a tragic ending, she commits suicide.

“The composer, Puccini, touches your heart and soul,” Smith said. “It’s such a joy to be able to be a part of that and sing that, to communicate those ideas and emotions. Everyone feels it differently. That’s the joy of being in a performance. It lives in every single person differently. It speaks to the soul.”

The opera star Placido Domingo is conducting. Smith said though he had met Domingo in the past, he had never performed with him.

“He’s had such a marvelous career,” Smith said. “It’s nice that he’s sung my part before. We have a special communication between us, I think. We exchange glances during the performance. He knows the piece. He knows what it feels like being on that stage at the Metropolitan Opera singing it.”

He said his mother, Patricia Smith, of Joplin, and his two sisters came to New York this month to see him perform. There also have been other familiar faces in the New York audience.

“It’s a big treat for me,” he said. “I really enjoy it. I enjoy sharing my talent with them. I hope they enjoy it too. It’s a great city, a great production.”

MET DEBUT

His debut performance at The Met was in German composer Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” in March 2008.

It wasn’t planned.

Smith was sought to step in quickly as Tristan, substituting for a tenor who was injured during a performance, who himself was substituting for the original Tristan, who came down with a viral infection. It turned out that Smith’s performance had a nationwide audience as a result of being broadcast to movie theaters around the country.

Smith said performing an Italian opera is a nice change of pace for him. He performs in a lot of Wagner operas. Wagner’s opera “Die Walkure” includes the well-known section “Ride of the Valkyries.”

When rehearsing the opera, he said he knows someone will break the tension with “kill da wabbit!” as sung by Elmer Fudd in the classic Looney Tunes cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?”

Smith said he doesn’t specifically recall having seen the cartoon as a child in Chetopa, but before attending PSU, his vision of an opera singer always included a helmet with horns — the kind that Elmer Fudd wore in the cartoon.

Schedule

Robert Dean Smith performs in “Madama Butterfly” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera today; Saturday; Thursday, Dec. 22; Tuesday, Dec. 27; and Friday, Dec. 30.

He performs in Germany in February and at the Vienna State Opera in Austria in March. He returns to the U.S. in May, where he will perform in the Beethoven opera “Fidelio” with the Dallas Symphony.
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Claire Rutter and Stephen Gadd: New Years Concert

While not even a little Wagner in sight, it is Rutter and Gadd (who was a fine Kurwenal at Grange Park earlier this year) after all - plus it is for charity.

THE last few tickets are on sale for a special concert featuring leading opera singers Claire Rutter and Stephen Gadd.

The couple, who live in Winchester, will be performing with the Southern Sinfonia to celebrate the New Year.

Proceeds from the charity concert will go to The Pinder Centre at Avington near Alresford.

It will take place at Winchester Guildhall on New Year’s Eve, running from 6 to 8pm.

The timing is designed to allow people enough time to head off to New Year parties, in addition to the show.

The programme is expected to feature some Viennese favourites including works by Johann Strauss II and Franz Lehár.

Claire Rutter has already starred as Lucrezia Borgia with English National Opera earlier this year.

She has also played the title roles of Tosca for the English National Opera, Aida at the Royal Albert Hall, and Madame Butterfly at Grange Park Opera.

Her husband, Stephen Gadd, took the title role of Macbeth at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He also sang at Grange Park Opera as Kurwenal in Tristan and Isolde.

The Southern Sinfonia will be conducted by Matthew Wood, and will play alongside Austrian violinist Alexander Hohenthal.

Visit ruttergadd.co.uk/newyear or call 0800 411 8881 to book, or visit the Tourist Information Centre at the guildhall.

More at the RutterGadd website

Source and more
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Watch Now: Bach: Matthäus Passion | Philippe Herreweghe & Collegium Vocale Gent

A  little off topic - and season, but, as I love Bach's Matthaus Passion and Philippe Herreweghe's especially, it was such a surprise to find this simply lying around on Youtube it seemed a shame not to share


Matthäus Passion, BWV 244

Christoph Prégardien, tenor
Tobias Berndt, baritone

Dorothee Mields, soprano
Hana Blažíková, soprano
Damien Guillon, countertenor
Robin Blaze, countertenor
Colin Balzer, tenor
Hans Jörg Mammel, tenor
Matthew Brook, bass
Stephan MacLeod, bass

Collegium Vocale Gent
Conducted by Philippe Herreweghe
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Maestro Jan Schantzenbach discusses the relationship between Wagner and Mozart

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 13 December 2011 | 8:55:00 am

There are not as many novels whose central theme is opera as there are should be. There are even fewer about productions of Don Giovanni - actually I think you might make that there is only one. There are even fewer still, that contain, murder, ghosts and convoluted mysteries - actually make that only one also. There is certainly only one in which the Maestro (a central character) also loves Wagner (to put it mildly). Gale Martin - an associate  over at twitter, opera blogger, classical music reviewer at Bachtrack and now fine writer of fiction  (and all-round good egg) - has taken it upon herself to write such a beast: "Don Juan in Hankey, PA". While I am not a great fiction reader, I am reading it at the moment and and am enjoying the experience (should anyone be interested I shall write up a review on completion). 


With this in mind, I was very grateful when Gale agreed to interview her  tyrannical Maestro Jan Schantzenbach regarding his thoughts around the relationship between Mozart and Wagner. And now, over to the Maestro TW




Today’s special guest is Maestro Jan Schantzenbach, music director of the fictional Hankey Opera Company, from my newly released novel DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA.  (Word to the wise – Jan demands that he be called Maestro. They don’t call him the Teeny Tyrant for nothing.) He is, for the first time, conducting Don Giovanni in Hankey, Pennsylvania (in the novel). He placed in the top twenty in an international conductor’s competition in 2003. – Gale Martin

Maestro: First, let me offer a hearty hojotoho to The Wagnerian for a wonderfully informative and instructive blog.  I am honored to be here today.

GM: Maestro, since this a blog devoted to Wagner, I’m counting on you to make some connections between Mozart and Wagner.

Maestro:  A task easily accomplished, GM. As The Wagnerian has himself reported in a superb post on this blog, Wagner not only conducted Don Giovanni on many occasions, he counted on that particular opera (with some alteration of Wagner’s own making) to raise the standard of opera in Zurich.

GM: As a conductor, what comparisons might you draw between Mozart and Wagner?

Maestro:  First let me say that Wagner was intrigued by the music of other composers. He listened carefully and formed his opinions of the works of composers like Mozart deliberately and diligently. “Mozart’s music and Mozart’s orchestra are a perfect match,” Wagner was alleged to say.

GM:  Apart from the fact that Wagner, a great nationalist, disapproved of  a German-speaking composer like Mozart writing operas in Italian, on the surface of it, do Mozart and Wagner have anything in common?

Maestro:  Yes, in fact, they do. While the name Wagner is synonymous with opera, Mozart is generally regarded as the universal genius in all kinds of music.  However (und this is a big however), it is worth noting that opera was Mozart’s favorite part within his wide-ranging field of music composition.  In a letter dated February of 1778, Mozart wrote, “You know my greatest desire is—to write operas.” Both composers were, in their own fashion, both fascinating and somewhat repellent personalities—Mozart and Wagner’s private lives are both filled with embarrassing episodes.

GM: Thanks for those tidbits, Maestro. I didn’t know all this about Mozart while I was writing the book or I might have worked it in somehow.

Maestro:  Perhaps you should be thinking of a sequel, a spinoff of DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA with me as the central character.

GM: I’ll give it some thought. Back to the Mozart/Wagner analysis, is there anything dramatically different between the composers and the public’s acceptance of their work?

Maestro: Why, yes. Good question, GM. Mozart’s Italian operas never approached the same level of acceptance in Italy as Wagner’s operas in Germany. Not even close. Purportedly, Italian audiences are somewhat perplexed by Mozartian operas, never quite knowing when to applaud. It’s true that Mozart’s operas don’t have the same appeal to the galleries as some of the famous Italian composers (who shall remain nameless for this article—but we all know of whom I am speaking). However, in Don Giovanni, Mozart makes a irrevocable contribution to the world of opera. Richard Wagner is, of course, another significant figure in the history of opera.  So great was Wagner’s influence on opera that opera could never again be the same art form that it was before Wagner. I say this as one who fancies himself a 21st century Wagner.

GM: That’s quite the self-accorded accolade. Gosh, I didn’t know you composed, Maestro.

Maestro: I don’t. But if I were to write an opera, it would be in the vein of something by Wagner. (A self-satisfied smile crosses his face.) But I do conduct a magnificent Giovanni in DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA. Readers will have to agree once they finish the book that I am the reason that the book is such a page-turner.

GM: Right. (GM furrows her brow at that comment.) Well, that concludes our interview with Maestro Jan Schantzenbach.  Thanks to our generous host, The Wagnerian, for sharing his blog with us today. If you’re curious about Maestro’s assertion that he is the main reason to keep reading the novel, you can buy the book in print and e-book versions at:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at iBooks from iTunes today and find out for yourself.
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Free Download. Mahler Biography - "Gustav Mahler, Song Symphonist" (Epub and HTML)

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 11 December 2011 | 8:28:00 pm

I notice that some  online ebook retailers are once again selling this, desbite that it was published in 1921 and thus long out of copyright . The HTML version is available from Project Gutenberg while the Epub version is supplied by epubbud (don't ask) Simply click the format of your choice below. I print the forward below:



This biography is not an unqualified eulogy. It is the first life of Gustav Mahler written by one who cannot boast a more or less intimate personal acquaintance with him. It is, nevertheless, the first account of his life based on his collected letters, [Gustav Mahler Briefe. Paul Zsolnay Verlag, Vienna.] the recent publication of which has at last made available material proving him to have been a far more human and fascinating figure than the haloes of sentiment cast over him by German biographies will admit. Therefore, the author of this book, the first on the subject conceived and written in English, believes he is justified in having made frequent and generous quotations from these letters, and acknowledges gratefully the kindness of the publisher, Paul Zsolnay of Vienna, in permitting him to make them.

Mahler's compositions receive much the same treatment in these pages as other incidents in his life; for he lived his works, and nothing was more abhorrent to him than the guide-book explanations and programmatic rhapsodies which constitute the rather rambling method of the biographies by his countrymen.

The book is necessarily short; for it is a first word from a new point-of-view. Yet it is no mere chronicle of dates and facts intended to preface an esthetic discussion of the thousand and one details of nine colossal symphonies. It is primarily and almost entirely a narrative.

To Download Epub Click Here

To View or save HTML version click here


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New release Chandos: Pelléas and Mélisande. Mark Elder ENO 1981

Received this press release from Chandos and thought it might be of interest. Released  in January I believe.


Claude Debussy (1862-1918) 
Pelléas and Mélisande
Neil Howlett (baritone), Eilene Hannon (soprano), Robert Dean (baritone), Sarah Walker (mezzo-soprano), John Tomlinson (bass), Rosanne Brackenridge (soprano), Sean Rea (bass)


English National Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Mark Elder 


CHAN 3177(3) MID PRICE 3 CDs for the price of 2 


This live BBC broadcast of Claude Debussy’s ground-breaking opera Pelléas and Mélisande was 
recorded at the Coliseum in 1981. The unique performance is now available on CD for the first 
time, as part of Chandos’ Opera in English historical series, performed by the English National 
Opera Orchestra and Chorus under Sir Mark Elder, with the soloists Neil Howlett, Eilene 
Hannon, and Robert Dean playing out the tragic love triangle.


It is not so much the extremity of emotions in opera that moves us, but their intensity. And 
intense emotion does not need to be loud, or dramatic. It can be quiet, deep, and profound, as in 
this operatic masterpiece, based on Maeterlinck’s symbolist drama. With its simple setting of 
every day words, and slow-burning passion, the opera emerged in the early twentieth century as 
the very antithesis to the Wagnerian style. In the words of Debussy himself: ‘I imagine a kind of 
drama quite different from Wagner’s in which music would begin where the words are powerless 
as an expressive force. Music is made for the inexpressible.’ 


Debussy purposely avoided elaborate and lyrical language, and wrote in the simplest prose. In 
fact, most of the characters speak to one another in plain speech, and everything they say is, on 
the surface, completely transparent. But the waters run deep, and as questions bring about either 
the wrong reply or no reply at all, the simple language only deepens the obscurity of what is 
actually being said. 


The plot is based on a tragic love triangle. Prince Golaud finds a mysterious young woman, 
Mélisande, lost in a forest. He marries her and brings her back to the castle of his grandfather, 
King Arkel of Allemonde. Here Mélisande becomes increasingly attached to Golaud’s half-
brother, Pelléas, arousing Golaud’s jealousy. Golaud goes to excessive lengths to find out the 
truth about the relationship and Pelléas eventually decides to leave the castle, but he arranges to 
meet Mélisande one last time and the two finally confess their love for each other. Golaud, who 
has been eavesdropping, rushes out and kills Pelléas. Not long after, having given birth to a 
daughter, and with Golaud still begging her to tell him ‘the truth’, Mélisande dies. 
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Complete Ring Cycles - 2012. An incomplete listing

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 10 December 2011 | 11:32:00 pm

I am presently looking at compiling a list of all Wagner performance for the coming 12 months. Alas, this is taking longer than I would hope. However, in the mean time, here is an (incomplete) list of full Ring Cycles in 2012. As all details are open to change please consult the official websites of each house. The Wagnerian, takes no responsibility for any such changes or inaccuracies herein. Next up, an incomplete list of Tristans - time permitting. 

Hamburg State Opera
28 January, 5, 12, 19 February, 1, 4, 7, 11 March 2012 (Two cycles)



Wotan
Falk Struckmann / Albert Dohmen
Brünnhilde
Catherine Foster
Siegfried
Christian Franz
Siegmund
Simon O'Neill
Sieglinde
Heidi Brunner
Alberich
John Wegner / Wolfgang Koch
Mime
Jürgen Sacher
Erda
Deborah Humble
Fricka
Lilli Paasikivi
Fasolt
Wilhelm Schwinghammer
Fafner
Ayk Martirossian / Alexander Tsymbalyuk / Wilhelm Schwinghammer
Gunther
Robert Bork
Gutrune
Anna Gabler
Hagen
Attila Jun
Hunding
Peter Rose / Alexander Tsymbalyuk
Loge
Peter Galliard
Waltraute
Deborah Humble
Freia
Vida Mikneviciute
Donner
Jan Buchwald
Froh
Chris Lysack
Simone Young
Claus Guth
Christian Schmidt
Christian Schmidt
Wolfgang Göbbel / Michael Bauer


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