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George Loomis reviews Kupfer's Zurich Meistersinger

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 31 January 2012 | 6:01:00 pm

George Loomis at the NY Times finds the 74 year old Harry Kupfer's new Meistersinger production  "... an ideal balance between art and humanity, reminding us in the process that “Meistersinger,” despite some unsettling details, is indeed the kind of heartwarming work that makes one glad to be alive."

(Video and Images added by TW)

ZURICH — One has learned to approach productions of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” by German directors with a bit of trepidation. To an appreciable degree, this Wagner opera is about art, and specifically German art, which leads directors to comment on the tradition of which they are a part, often critically. In a notorious 2002 staging for the Hamburg Staatsoper, Peter Konwitschny actually stopped the music during the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs’s controversial final speech, in which he calls for the people to respect “holy German art,” and held a short discussion about what it means to be German.
Another notorious production by Katharina Wagner, the great-granddaughter of the composer, for the Bayreuth Festival in 2007 mocked great figures of German culture — Goethe, Schiller, Bach and, of course, Wagner himself — by introducing them into the opera wearing huge rubber head masks. Deconstructive approaches like these can obscure Wagner’s simple message that, while art needs to be governed by rules, the rules need to be constantly tested and re-evaluated.
Moreover, such approaches can overlook the fact that the opera’s appeal lies less in what it says about stollens and abgesangs — those structural components of ancient German song — than in its human dimension.

The new production at the Zurich Opera House by Harry Kupfer strikes an ideal balance between art and humanity, reminding us in the process that “Meistersinger,” despite some unsettling details, is indeed the kind of heartwarming work that makes one glad to be alive. Mr. Kupfer, 76, is the dean of German opera producers, a protégé of the legendary Walter Felsenstein at Berlin’s Komische Oper, and a man of vast experience whose credits include one of the finest productions (1988-92) of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle at Bayreuth since the Wieland Wagner era.
For those who really like extreme productions, Mr. Kupfer may seem old-fashioned, but he digs deep into the fabric of an opera for interpretive ideas rather than dreaming up a concept and then foisting it on the work. Especially treasurable in the new “Meistersinger” is Mr. Kupfer’s direction of the principals — what the Germans call “Personenregie.” His meticulous work gives new insights into familiar characters and makes for gripping theater.
The production’s fidelity to Wagner’s drama by no means precludes novel touches, for they are present in abundance. In the opening church scene, we discover some prominent Meistersingers in the congregation. Young Eva, daughter of the town goldsmith Pogner, tries every tactic, including feigning a sprained ankle, to delay leaving the church so she can meet the knight Walther, whom she adores. But her father will allow her to marry only a Meistersinger who proves himself in a song contest, and Walther hasn’t a clue how to do that.
Continue reading at the NYT
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Opera Australia announce their first "Mini Ring Cycle" Plus Gary Lehman to finally find his bear?

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 29 January 2012 | 3:35:00 am

As part of the general buildup to their first Ring Cycle in 2013, Opera Australia have announced a 4 week festival of Wagner/Ring themed events in 2013. This includes: comedy, cabaret,  film, food and wine events, lectures, pre-performance talks, plus other, as yet to be determined events.So far so good, but they have also tantalisingly announced a series of " versions of The Ring of the Nibelung". Exactly what these are or consist of has yet to be announced. More news as I get it.

In the meantime, the cast of their full Ring cycle will include:

"English soprano Susan Bullock as Brünnhilde, Finnish bass-baritone Juha Uusitalo as Wotan, American Heldentenor Gary Lehman as Siegfried and Australian Helden baritone John Wegner as Alberich".

More information at:  Opera Australia: Ring 2013
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A new London Walkure in May 2012 and new full Ring Cycle in 2013

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 28 January 2012 | 3:46:00 pm

Last year saw possibly one of the most intriguing Rheingolds ever presented: Fulham Opera's  fully staged  production held in St John's Church, Fulham.

At the time, we interviewed Artistic Director, Ben Woodward (click here for the full interview) during which  he tantalizing mentioned the possibility of their Cycle continuing this year with a new production of Walkure. Well, not only has this now been confirmed but also dates of a future Siegfried and Gotterdammerung  in February  and  April 2013, culminating with two entire cycles between May and June 2013. More details as I get them.

Die Walküre
22nd, 23rd, 25th, 27th May 2012



Sieglinde Laura Hudson

Hunding Oliver Hunt

Wotan Ian Wilson-Pope

Fricka Elizabeth Russo

Brunnhilde Zoe South

Helmwige Janet Fischer

Gerhilde tbc

Ortlinde Alexa Mason

Waltraute Sara Gonzalez

Siegrune Sara Wallander-Ross

Grimgerde Nuria Luterbacher

Rossweise Jemma Brown

Schwertleite Nina Alupii

February 2013

April 2013

The Ring Cycle, in six days, May-June 2013

Cycle 1:
20th May:  Das Rheingold
21st May:  Die Walküre, Acts I & II
22nd May:  Die Walküre, Act III, Siegfried Act I 
23rd May:  Siegfried, Acts II & III
24th May:  Götterdämmerung, Prologue & Act I
25th May:  Götterdämmerung, Acts II & III

Cycle 2:
27th May:  Das Rheingold
28th May:  Die Walküre, Acts I & II
29th May:  Die Walküre, Act III, Siegfried Act I
30th May:  Siegfried, Acts II & III
31st May:  Götterdämmerung, Prologue & Act I
1st June:   Götterdämmerung, Acts II & III

For more information and tickets see: Fulham Opera
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Lepage: "...suddenly you're just the guy who has this big set that makes noise."

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday 27 January 2012 | 4:29:00 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Early in Wagner's "Ring" cycle, Wotan glimpses the new home he has commissioned for his fellow gods and exclaims: "Vollendet das ewige Werk!" (The everlasting work is finished!")

Robert Lepage might feel some of that same pride and relief as he nears the Metropolitan Opera premiere this Friday night of "Goetterdaemmerung" ("Twilight of the Gods"), the fourth and final installment in a production nearly six years in the making.

But Wotan's boast carries unintended irony, since Valhalla turns out to be far from everlasting: The seeds of the gods' destruction have already been sown by the bargain he was forced to make to pay for his palace.

For the Canadian director, the problem is different but potentially just as devastating.

His "Ring" is the most expensive production ever seen on the Met stage, costing more than $16 million. It's built around a 45-ton contraption made up of 24 gigantic planks that move independently on a central axis. With the help of computerized projections, these planks conjure up all the scenery — from rivers to mountains, from forests to caverns.

For many critics and members of the public, Lepage's reliance on this set signals a fatal flaw in the production. It's capable — when it works right — of creating magnificent stage pictures, but the skeptics say these come at the price of neglecting the interactions among the characters that make the "Ring" great drama as well as great music.

At times, the singers are confined to a narrow apron at the front of the stage or stuck in a trough that inhibits their movements. During the heart-rending scene in which Wotan bids farewell to his favorite daughter, Bruennhilde, Lepage diverts attention from them by having the set undergo yet another spectacular transformation. And the set is noisy — given to making loud creaks and thuds.

Lepage acknowledges some of the problems, but the criticism that he has ignored the drama clearly rankles.

"People say we've put way too much emphasis on the set, but it's not true," he said in an interview last week. "From the moment we walk into the rehearsal room, the set is not there. We devote weeks to discussing the roles, discussing the idea behind the scenes, digging into the subtext."

Given all that time and effort, he was especially hurt by his reception on opening night last spring of "Die Walkuere," the second "Ring" opera. Cast and conductor were cheered lustily during curtain calls, but when Lepage and his team came out, the cheering mixed with boos.

"I remember thinking, 'Do these people know that some of that good singing and good acting they just saw came from hours and hours of introducing somebody to the part, or to confronting contradictory ideas with people who had been doing it for a long time?'"

"They've been applauded," he said, "and then the guy who worked on that comes out and suddenly you're just the guy who has this big set that makes noise."

Many "Ring" productions place the action in a historical context, like Patrice Chereau's Bayreuth version, which imagined Wotan as a 19th-century industrialist. Lepage said he wanted to avoid that kind of specificity, and the set helped him.

"My idea was to do a kind of brush and scrub of the 'Ring,'" he said. "Not locating it in any particular period or social setting helps us show that it's a work that transcends time and the economy and political systems."

He repeated a comparison he has made previously between his use of the set and Wagner's manipulation of his musical themes or "leitmotivs."

"The planks have been providing the braids from which the story is woven together, just the way the leitmotivs do," he said.

When viewers finally get a chance to see all four operas in succession, Lepage thinks they will be able to appreciate what the set has accomplished.

"There are things that will make sense when you get the whole story, because they echo things that happened in earlier operas," he said.

Audiences will soon be able to judge for themselves. "Goetterdaemmerung" will initially run for five performances, with the last one, on Saturday, Feb. 11, shown live in HD in movie theaters around the world. Three complete cycles follow in April and May.
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Excerpt from 'Parsifal' - Berlin 1992 - Waltraud Meier/Poul Elming/ Daniel Barenboim

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Listen to: Gotterdammerung - MET premiere Friday January 27, 2012

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 26 January 2012 | 11:43:00 pm

Sorry  I have not been posting much the last few weeks - a rather busy schedule has made things difficult. While things remain somewhat "hectic" they will be less so then in the last few weeks  and thus normal service will return next week. But in the meantime do not forget to catch the premiere of the new MET Gotterdammerung tomorrow live and streaming at 6:00 pm ET. (11:00pm London) I will certainly be.

Click the link below to be taken directly to the live stream. Cast details follow plus Lepage's thoughts on the final part of the Ring.

Jay Hunter Morris - Siegfried
Brünnhilde - Deborah Voigt
Gunther - Iain Paterson
Hagen  - Hans-Peter König
Alberich - Eric Owens
Gutrune  - Wendy Bryn Harmer
Waltraute - Waltraud Meier
Woglinde  - Erin Morley
Wellgunde -Jennifer Johnson Cano
Flosshilde - Tamara Mumford
1. Norn  - Maria Radner
2. Norn  - Elizabeth Bishop
3. Norn  - Heidi Melton
Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Director: Robert Lepage
Set Designs: Carl Fillion
Costumes: François St-Aubin
Lighting: Etienne Boucher

In the final moments of Götterdämmerung, the hall of the Gibichungs is flooded by the Rhine river, the castle of the gods is engulfed in flames, the all-powerful ring is reclaimed by its rightful owners, and the drama’s heroine, Brünnhilde, sacrifices her life for the greater good. It’s an epic cataclysm that pulls together a multitude of dramatic, musical, and narrative strands developed over the course of four operas and nearly 17 hours. Robert Lepage’s production, with its extraordinary stage "machine," has addressed the theatrical demands of each Ring installment by transforming into a variety of settings that capture the specific directions in Wagner’s score. In Götterdämmerung, this means creating a vivid human world, as the inevitable twilight of the gods approaches.

"Götterdämmerung is the only opera in the Ring that has a chorus," Lepage explains. "A chorus is always about society. It’s about mankind. Before that, you have a kind of hierarchy among gods who represent elements or emotions or ideas. But now, in Götterdämmerung, we’ve arrived in the real world, where the idea of the divine has been pushed back onto altars. Gods are not present anymore: they’re statues, superstitions." We are reintroduced to several characters that appeared in previous parts of the Ring, but the world around them has changed fundamentally, as indicated in the composer’s stage directions: in Act II, in which the chorus first appears, Wagner specified that the hall of the Gibichungs should be center stage, with altars to the gods Wotan, Fricka, and Donner—principal figures in the first two Ring operas—pushed to the background.

Just as a new dramatic context changes our experience of events, the music of Götterdämmerung breaks new ground, too. "In this opera, Wagner applies a new kind of leitmotif technique—he changes the motifs according to the new situation," says Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi, who returns to the podium after leading Siegfried last October. "Take, for example, the love motif of Siegfried and Brünnhilde in the second act. It’s the same motif that we know, but completely changed. Why? Because their love has changed. I pointed out to the orchestra in one of the early rehearsals that this is not a new leitmotif but the old one, related to a new situation. It marks a very important step Wagner takes in this opera."

The seismic shift in the world—and in man’s awareness of his role in it—is reflected throughout Lepage’s aesthetic for Götterdämmerung. In the previous Ring operas, he says, "everything you’ve been seeing is rough, whether it’s rocks or trees. In Götterdämmerung, it is man who has taken control over nature, creating palaces and houses and staircases that are manicured and extremely controlled." This desire to control nature makes the humans true descendants of Alberich and Wotan, both of whom, in their own ways, violated nature in the events depicted in and preceding Das Rheingold. The impulse to control is part of what must be expunged in the final cataclysm that is Götterdämmerung’s finale.

But the opera also deals very specifically with its human characters. Siegfried and Brünnhilde begin this final part of their story reveling in their love, but their relationship is polluted by their contact with human society, which is new for both of them. "I feel like Siegfried’s innocence is still intact because he is not a willing participant in the betrayal of Brünnhilde," says tenor Jay Hunter Morris who again steps into the role of Siegfried, following his star-making turn in the Ring’s third installment. He is referring to the potion his character is given to make him forget Brünnhilde. Its effect wears off before Siegfried dies, stabbed in the back by the treacherous Hagen. "This is why the death scene is so poignant for me," he continues. "He realizes what has happened, how Brünnhilde has been hurt, and how wonderful their relationship was. I want to keep some part of his innocence throughout Götterdämmerung."

For Deborah Voigt, who previously sang Brünnhilde in Die Walküre and Siegfried, the idea of transformation and renewal applies to her character in very human terms. "Brünnhilde develops from a rather carefree, high-spirited teenager, indulged by her beloved father, into the fully developed, seasoned-by-experience, all-knowing woman we see at the end of Götterdämmerung," the soprano says. "She has recaptured the dignity and grandeur of the goddess she once was. But at the same time she is far more than she was as the goddess-child of Wotan."

The characters, in other words, transform to become more authentically themselves. Director Lepage agrees that Brünnhilde’s emotional growth is central to the Ring, as is Siegfried’s. "These roles are sung by mature singers, and they’re often depicted as very strong heroes, but they’re teenagers basically. Their emotions are the emotions of teenagers who are discovering love, their bodies, their identities, their goals. And we all identify with that. At one point in our lives, we all have had that conflict: I follow the person I respect the most, my mentor, my father, my teacher, but I also have to betray him if I want to be faithful to who I am becoming."

This idea of truth as a liberating if potentially destructive force was presaged in Siegfried, when the title hero melts the bits of his father’s broken sword in a fiery furnace, pours a new mold, and hardens the new creation in water; at the end of Götterdämmerung, an analogous process of destruction and renewal by fire and water will engulf the entire cosmos. Thus, at the end, everything is different, even though many things (like the Rhinemaidens and their happy girlish song) have superficially remained the same. To Lepage, this is a message of hope.

"It’s called the Ring, so it implies that there’s a cycle," he says. "It implies that whatever you do, you go back to square one and you start again. But of course we’re not starting again at exactly the same place, we are one level higher, we’ve learned from the first cycle. It’s always sad to see anything that’s been built by mankind go wrong and fall, but there’s something soothing about the Rhine washing everything away and going back to that limpid clarity of the beginning of the Ring. There’s a chance you could start building again, maybe on a different ground. It’s a very, very optimistic ending." —William Berger

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Heinrich Schlusnus accompanied by Richard Strauss (1917)

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday 25 January 2012 | 2:25:00 am

I believe these were recorded in 1917, unless someone would like to correct me.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949): Lieder per voce e pianoforte (1885/1898):

I. "Heimkehr" op.15 n.5 (1886)
II. "Ich liebe dich" op.37 n.2 (1898)
III. "Ruhe, meine Seele" op.27 n.1 (1894)
IV. "Zueignung" op.10 n.1 (1885)
V. "Die Nacht" op.10 n.3 (1885)
VI. "Das Geheimnis" op.17 n.3 (1886/1887)

Heinrich Schlusnus, baritono
Richard Strauss, pianoforte

VII. "Breit über mein Haupt" op.19 n.2 (1888)
VIII. "Morgen !" op.27 n.4 (1894)
Robert Hutt, tenore
Richard Strauss, pianoforte
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Missed McVicker's Glyndebourne Die Meistersinger ? Then catch it in Chicago, 2013

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 23 January 2012 | 12:05:00 am

Lyric Opera of Chicago have announced their 2012/13 season. In among an interesting set of productions - including a new Electra - is the announcement that McVicker's highly regarded  2011 production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg will be making its debut in Chicago in February 2013. Full cast below:

8, 12, 16, 20, 23, 27(m) February, 3 March 2013


Hans Sachs  -  James Morris
Veit Pogner -  Dimitry Ivashchenko
Sixtus Beckmesser - Bo Skovhus
Fritz Kothner  - Darren Jeffrey
Walther von Stolzing  -  Johan Botha
David - David Portillo
Eva - Amanda Majeski
Magdalene - Jamie Barton
Conductor: Andrew Davis
Director (original production): David McVicar
Revival Director: Marie Lambert
Set Designs: Vicki Mortimer
Costumes: Vicki Mortimer
Lighting: Paule Constable

Co-production with San Francisco Opera, Glyndebourne Festival

More details: Lyric Opera Of Chicago
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“I don’t have a steely voice,”: Katarina Dalayman (The MET's 'other' Brunnhilde)

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 22 January 2012 | 6:08:00 am

The New York Times' Matthew Gurewitsch interviews the MET's 'other' Brunnhilde -  Katarina Dalaymen (images and video add by "The Wagnerian")

IN burlesque, in popular prejudice and all too often in the opera house, big-gun German opera comes off as a clash of the titans, with the roles of Brünnhilde, Isolde and Elektra constituting the soprano’s triple crown. All three have scenes of great tenderness, but more often than not their defining moments are tempestuous, even savage. For a quarter-century beginning in the 1950s Birgit Nilsson of Sweden hurled their battle cries and curses with the thrust, edge and metal of so many Viking spears. Three decades after her farewell performance even opera lovers determined not to live in the past may still think that no other way will do. But where is another Nilsson?

Her compatriot Katarina Dalayman, who has inherited these great parts, is nothing like her.

“I don’t have a steely voice,” Ms. Dalayman (pronounced dah-LYE-mahn) remarked backstage at the Vienna State Opera last fall. Days later she would make her house debut, as Brünnhilde in “Ring des Nibelungen,” conducted by Christian Thielemann.

“A steely voice is impressive,” she continued, “but after 15 minutes you want something more. I think my sound is big and round, with a strong core. Mainly — how should I describe it? — I try to find more colors. It’s not something I decided. It’s just what I do. I try to find the human being.”

Where Nilsson hurled spears, Ms. Dalayman aims javelins: lighter in impact if no less thrilling in their flight. And though the fiercer Nilsson also encompassed the great heroines’ more vulnerable aspects, Ms. Dalayman’s deeply felt portrayals of Brünnhilde and Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera in the last few seasons render comparison academic. This season Ms. Dalayman returns as Brünnhilde in Robert Lepage’s new production of “Götterdämmerung,” which opens on Friday, and in the first complete presentations of the Lepage “Ring” cycle this spring, alternating with Deborah Voigt.

Wagner — opera of any kind — is a far cry from the music Ms. Dalayman heard as a girl. A daughter of a Turkish engineer and a Swedish seamstress, she grew up listening to Dean Martin and Dionne Warwick. “We had four or five albums in the house,” she said. “That was all.”

She sang in the school choir, where her voice never blended in. And she was a class clown. People expected her to wind up in theater. But when she was in her late teens a voice singing an aria on the radio sent her on her way.

“I don’t know who the singer was or what she was singing,” said Ms. Dalayman, who turns 49 on Wednesday. “But I knew that this was what I had to do. And I knew I could do it.”

At the Stockholm Conservatory her teacher started her off with Mozart’s Susanna, in “Le Nozze di Figaro.” “The voice was built step by step,” Ms. Dalayman said. “I realized even then that it would become bigger and more dramatic, but you never know how soon. If you take it easy, you keep your voice. If you want to sing a long time, it’s a good choice.”

Unlike her classmates she confined her singing to the studio, taking no auditions or outside jobs. So in the school’s annual showcase for the graduating class on the stage of the Royal Swedish Opera, with full orchestra, she seemed to emerge full blown from nowhere. Contrary to custom the material chosen demanded big, mature voices and had a cast of only three. It was Act I of “Die Walküre.” The experiment seems to have done little for the tenor and bass. But Ms. Dalayman has more than kept the promise of her precocious performance as Sieglinde.

Continue Reading
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San Francisco Opera announce a new Lohengrin for 2012

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 21 January 2012 | 3:12:00 am

SF opera have announced the San Francisco Opera premiere of Danial Slater's production of Lohengrin (originally premiered at Geneva Opera in 2007 and then at HGO in 2008) - October 2012.

The title role is sung by Brandon Jovanovich, "a first-rate Wagner tenor" (San Francisco Chronicle) who was an electrifying Siegmund in Die Walküre (2011). As his doubt-plagued bride, soprano Camilla Nylund "evokes an affecting degree of dreamy distance in Elsa's account of her mysterious savior" (Gramophone). Daniel Slater's "thoughtful and tasteful" production (Associated Press) also features veteran Wagnerians Kristinn Sigmundsson, Gerd Grochowski and Petra Lang. Nicola Luisotti conducts his first Wagner opera for San Francisco Opera.

Co-production of Houston Grand Opera and Grand Théâtre de Genève

20, 24, 28(m), 31 October, 3, 6, 9 November 2012

Lohengrin - Brandon Jovanovich 
Brandon Jovanovich (2007) - Winterstürme

Elsa -Camilla Nylund
"Einsam in trüben Tagen" Camilla Nylund

Telramund - Gerd Grochowski

Ortrud - Petra Lang

Heinrich der Vogler - Kristinn Sigmundsson

King's Herald-Brian Mulligan

Conductor: Nicola Luisotti

Director:  Daniel Slater

Set Designs: Robert Innes Hopkins

Costumes:  Robert Innes Hopkins

Lighting: Simon Mills
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Longborough Festival Opera (LFO) announce full cast lists for all productions this season

Photo: Stephen Shepherd
Longborough Festival Opera reaches the last step of in its ambitious project to be the first privately run opera house, apart from Bayreuth, to present Wagner’s fully staged Ring cycle in 2013.  
This year sees a new production of Götterdämmerung, the fourth and final opera in the Ring cycle, conducted once again by Anthony Negus and directed by Alan Privett.  Rachel Nicholls, who sang Helmwige in Die Walküre sings Brünnhilde for the first time, and Estonian tenor Mati Turi makes his British debut as Siegfried.  Stuart Pendred makes his debut as Hagen, Eddie Wade will sing Gunther and Malcolm Rivers sings Alberich.

After completing a cycle of the Mozart/Da Ponte operas, the 2012 Festival moves on to The Magic Flute with a libretto by Shickaneder.  The conductor is Gianluca Marciano with director Jenny Miller.   Nicholas Merryweather, who sang Figaro in 2009 and Don Giovanni in 2010, returns to sing Papageno, and Elizabeth Donovan will sing Pamina.  Mario Sofroniou makes his Longborough debut in the role of Tamino, Sasa Cano will be Sarastro and Penelope Randall-Davis will sing Queen of the Night.  Local school children will also be in the production.   

The third opera in this summer’s Festival will be a new production of Janacek’s Katya Kabanova conducted by Jonathan Lyness and directed and designed by Richard StuderLee Bisset (Sieglinde in Die Walküre in 2010) sings the title role with Michael Bracegirdle as Kuligin and Christopher Lemmings as Tichon. 

The season is completed by a Young Artists’ production of Sweeney Todd.  Directed by Maria Jagusz and conducted by Richard Taggart the show will have a cast of young singers aged 16-25.  Longborough has a strong commitment to developing young artists, and offering them opportunities to work with professional creative team

The Magic Flute       Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto Emmanuel Shickaneder
sung in German with English surtitles

Saturday 9th June      6.30pm
Sun    10 June                3.00 pm
Tue    12 June                 6.30 pm
Wed   13 June                 6.30 pm
Fri      15 June                6.30 pm
Sat     16 June                6.30 pm
Ticket prices                    £40-£125

Conductor : Gianluca Marciano
Director: Jenny Miller

Tamino – Mario Sofroniou
- Sasa Cano
- Nicholas Merryweather
Queen of the Night 
– Penelope Randall-Davis
– Elizabeth Donovan

Katya Kabanova                                   Leoš Janáek
sung in English

Tuesday 26th June            6.30pm
Wed   27 June                6.30 pm
Fri      29 June                 6.30 pm
Sat     30 June                          6.30 pm
Ticket prices                    £40-£125

Conductor:  Jonathan Lyness
Director/Designer: Richard Studer
Lighting Designer: Wayne Dowdeswell
Katya – Lee Bisset
Kuligin – Michael Bracegirdle
Tichon – Christopher Lemmings
Richard Wagner

sung in German with English surtitles

Tuesday 17th July                      3.30pm   
Thu    19 July                  3.30 pm  
Sun    22 July                  3.30 pm 
Tue    24 July                  3.30 pm  
Ticket prices                    £80-£160

Conductor: Anthony Negus
Director: Alan Privett
Designer: Kjell Torriset
Lighting Designer: Guy Hoare

Siegfried – Mati Turi
Brünnhilde – Rachel Nicholls
Gunther – Eddie Wade
Alberich – Malcolm Rivers
Hagen - Stuart Pendred
Waltraute – Alison Kettlewell
Gutrune – Lee Bisset

Sweeney Todd       Stephen Sondheim
Sat     28th Jul                  6.30 pm
Sun    29th Jul                 
3.00 pm
Ticket prices:                  £25-£50

Conductor: Richard Taggart
Director: Maria Jagusz
Designer: Richard Studer
Lighting Designer: Nicolas Walsh

Sweeney Todd – Ben Maggs
Mrs. Lovett – Megan Yates
Anthony Hope – William Morgan
Joanna - Amy Cate Walsh
Tobias – Daniel Holley
Pirelli – Colin Bryce
Beggar Woman – Alice Nelson
Beadle – Eleias Moore Roberts

Booking Information


For more information on Mati Turi - and a sample of his Siegfried - click here
For an interview with Rachel Nicholls - click here
For a review round-up of last years Siegfried - click here
For an overview of LFO - click hereFor a visual exploration of LFO's Siegfried --
click here 
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Peter Seller/Bill Viola's, Tristan und Isolde to reach Canada in 2013 - with a rotating cast

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday 18 January 2012 | 6:27:00 pm

Peter Seller/Bill Viola's,  Tristan und Isolde is to be premiered at Canadian Opera Company in February 2013. Known in the USA as the "Tristan Project" and elsewhere as simply Perter Sellers Tristan und Isolde the production finally arrives in Canada. Whether you consider it staged or semi staged seems to still be a matter of opinion. The role  of Tristan will rotate between Ben Heppner (back at COC after 18 years) and  Burkhard Fritz, while Melanie Diener and   Margaret Jane Wray will rotate through Isolde (full details below).

Also to be revived is Atom Egoyan's Salome. Again, full details below. Also below is a video discussing all of the 2012/2013  season

Tristan und Isolde

Tristan: Ben Heppner (Jan. 29, Feb. 2, 14, 17, 20)
              Burkhard Fritz (Feb. 8, 23)
Isolde: Melanie Diener (Jan. 29, Feb. 2, 14, 17, 20)
             Margaret Jane Wray (Feb. 8, 23)
Brangäne: Daveda Karanas
Kurwenal: Alan Held
King Marke of Cornwall: Franz-Josef Selig
Melot: Ryan McKinny
Steersman: Robert Gleadow

Creative Team

Conductor: Jiří Bělohlávek
Director: Peter Sellars
Video: Bill Viola
Costume Designer: Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting Designer: James F. Ingalls
Chorus Master: Sandra Horst
With the COC Orchestra and Chorus



Salome: Erika Sunnegårdh
Jochanaan: Martin Gantner (Apr. 21, 27, May 1, 4)
                    Alan Held (May 7, 10, 16, 22)
Herod: Richard Margison
Herodias: Julia Luon
Narraboth: Nathaniel Peake
Page: Maya Lahyani

Creative Team

Conductor: Johannes Debus / Derek Bate (May 22) Director: Atom Egoyan
Choreographer: Serge Bennathan
Set Designer: Derek McLane
Costume Designer: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Designer: Michael Whitfield
Projections Designer: Phillip Barker
Puppetry: Clea Minaker
Chorus Master: Sandra Horst
With the COC Orchestra
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And Now for something Completely Different: Carlo Bergonzi "Io la vidi il suo sorriso"

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 16 January 2012 | 6:06:00 pm

Alas, not the Solti:

Carlo Bergonzi sings "Io la vidi il suo sorriso" from
Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
New Philharmonic Orchestra
Nello Santi, conductor
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Louis Spohr - String Quartet No. 20 in A Minor Op. 74 No. 1 (1825)

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 15 January 2012 | 5:04:00 pm

Found, yet again, on youtube

An extract from Clive Brown's "Louis Spohr: A Critical Biography"

He (Spohr)  also informed Hauptmann that he had begun rehearsals of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, which the Elector, having refused permission for its performance in 1846, had now permitted. Friedrich Wilhelm seems, however, to have regretted his decision, for in the middle of rehearsals he took steps to prevent any more of Wagner’s operas being performed in Kassel, by sending an order to the theatre stating: ‘Our general board of management of the Hoftheater must not buy any compositions in future from the composer Richard Wagner, formerly Kapellmeister and barricade fighter in Dresden

Spohr’s attitude towards Wagner’s opera (Tannhäuser) reveals much about his musical personality. During the rehearsal period he confessed: ‘There is much that is new and beautiful in the opera, but much that is most distressing to the ear.’ After the third performance he wrote again to Hauptmann setting out his thoughts about the opera in greater detail:

"The opera has gained many admirers through its seriousness and its subject matter, and when I compare it with other things produced in recent years, I am in agreement with them. Much that at first was very disagreeable to me I have become accustomed to with frequent hearings; only the lack of rhythm and the frequent absence of rounded periods is still very objectionable to me. The performance here is truly a very outstanding one, and few will be heard in Germany which arc so precise. In the enormously difficult ensembles for the singers in the second act not a note was left out last night. But for all that, there are several places where they make a truly horrifying music, particularly shortly before the place where Elisabeth throws herself on the singers who rush upon Tannhauser. - What faces would Haydn and Mozart make if they had to listen to such a hellish noise which is now given to us for music! The pilgrims’ chorus . . . was so perfectly in tune last night that for the first time I was able to reconcile myself to its unnatural modulations. It is remarkable what the human ear can become accustomed to by degrees."
Reports of Spohr’s reaction reached Wagner’s ears, and in Mein Leben he remarked that that he had heard that,
‘ Tannhauser, when it was performed at Kassel, had caused him so much pain and confusion that he declared he could no longer follow me, and feared that I must be on the wrong road’
These reports were not entirely accurate, for Spohr was still anxious to produce Lohengrin and made strenuous efforts both to perform parts of it in the winter concerts and to persuade the Elector to allow it to be produced in the Hoftheater. He also attempted unsuccessfully to hear it elsewhere, and as late as 1858, the year before his death, he wrote on 23 August to his former pupil Hubert Ries in Hamburg that he hoped to get to see a production of a new Wagner opera which he believed was to be given there in the spring.

From: "Louis Spohr: A Critical Biography" By Clive Brown (pp 249-250) Click here for details
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Contact Us

Edit: Oops! This should have been a new page. Well, you get the idea.

It seems, oddly enough from emails, for various reasons some people are unhappy using the contact box on the right hand side. So, should you wish, you can contact us directly at the email address below:

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Sydney Opera House to recreate 1973 opening Wagner gala.

Back in the days when even the Wagnerian was to young to wonder around in the woods looking for a bear, the Sydney Opera House celebrated it's opening with a Wagner gala concert performed by the legendary Charles Mackerras and Birgit Nilsson on 29 September 1973. Now 39 years later (39 years? I really am getting old) they are to recreate that performance albeit, obviously, with a different coupling: Simone Young and Christine Brewer. Details below where, if you click the more info link at the bottom, you will find a music player containing the original concert!


Die Meistersinger: Prelude
Tannhäuser: Dich, teure Halle
Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod
Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's Rhine Journey, Funeral March, Brünnhilde's Immolation

Simone Young conductor
Christine Brewer soprano


Aug 9 - 11, 2012

More information and tickets
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WNO announce a new production of Lohengrin and UK's first staged "Wagner Dream"

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday 13 January 2012 | 3:40:00 pm

David Pountney
Honestly, I really am supposed to be doing something else for the next few weeks but every time I try to get away up pops another piece of very exciting Wagner news. Today's is the news that Welsh National Opera have just announced a new production of Lohengrin directed by Anthony McDonald and the UK's first staged production of Wagner Dream directed by Pierre Audi (Find below the trailer of Audi's 2008 production and click   HERE to read the composer discussing the creative processes behind it). Both productions premiere during Wagner's bicentenary in, for those that missed it, 2013.

WNO will also be starting a concert series which will include the Prelude and Good Friday music of Parsifal, plus excerpts from Götterdämmerung. And this is just a small part of what looks like a very interesting few years from WNO. Full details below. including full cast list to Lohengrin and Wagner Dream. I will provide more information as time permits


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Free online concert: LPO / Jurowski, Jansen / Anderson, Mozart, Tchaikovsky

Not supposed to be here but thought I would post this quickly as it is not available for to long. Available till 24 January

Click Here To Listen At Instantencore

Julian Anderson Fantasias
Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5
Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony

Vladimir Jurowski conductor
Janine Jansen violin
London Philharmonic Orchestra

Also available from the Orchestra's website is an audio introduction to Fantasias from its composer, Julian Anderson, and the programme book from the concert.

Visit for full details.
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Watch Now: Gotterdammerung - Prolog - Marton, Kollo, De Waart - San Francisco, 1985

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 12 January 2012 | 4:19:00 pm

Alas, need to go away for a little while so enjoy.

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Listen Now: Ariadne auf Naxos 1935 Clemens Krauss Berlin

Live broadcast on Strauss's birthday, June 11, 1935. Berlin
Clemens Krauss cond.
Viorica Ursuleac
Helge Rosvaenge
Erna Berger
This performance was overseen by Strauss himself. Clemens Krauss, a close friend of Strauss's, conducts.
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The Ring Comes To Washington

I assume everyone knows about this by now but just for anyone that missed it:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington National Opera, which recently merged with the Kennedy Center after struggling financially for years, announced an ambitious long-term agenda Tuesday, including plans to stage Wagner's complete "Ring" cycle in 2016.

The company's five-year plan is capped by the commitment to present all four episodes of the "American Ring," 10 years after the company spent considerable time and money developing the production but couldn't complete the endeavor. When funds ran short in Washington, it was left to the San Francisco Opera to complete the cycle.

The "American Ring" draws on settings from U.S. history to explore Wagner's greed, ambition and betrayal.

"It was always intended and inspired by Washington," said Francesca Zambello, the director of the cycle and the Washington opera's new artistic adviser. "We will also have a lot of new cast members for here who audiences will have never seen, so there will be a chance to see something that has grown and evolved and morphed, which is often what happens with 'Ring' cycles. They develop like fine wines over time."

Casting and fundraising can begin in advance for the production, which will add $10 million to the budget for the 2016 season.

A year ago, the Kennedy Center agreed to take over business, fundraising and marketing operations of the Washington National Opera to ensure its survival after several years of money troubles. Placido Domingo, who served as the opera's general director for years, left the company last year.

The new arrangement with the Kennedy Center "has given us the possibility to think with more confidence into future seasons," said Christina Scheppelmann, the company's director of artistic operations.

The company is creating a New American Works project as a commissioning program for young composers and librettists to develop new American operas. Scheppelmann said it will be the first major post-conservatory training program to develop new operas.

"There are the conservatories. They work there, they study there, they leave, and then what?" she said. "We cannot expect the composer to then turn around and then write the next masterpiece for a main-stage three-hour opera."

The program begins next season with three student teams charged with creating new 20-minute operas based on contemporary American stories. The new operas eventually will be presented at the Kennedy Center's 500-seat Terrace Theater.

Advanced stages of the program will commission a new one-hour opera each year and a full-length opera on an American theme.

The opera company also is planning a new tradition of presenting holiday operas each year to present programs nearly all year long on various stages.

"These kind of projects are what define us," Zambello said. "This really allows us to make a bold statement and hold up a banner of who we are."___
Washington National Opera:
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The making of Stefan Herheim’s Parsifal (in German)

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North American Wagner Societies response to Bayreuth by letter - read it here: But is Bayreuth that important anymore?

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday 11 January 2012 | 12:38:00 pm

Well not here to be precise but over at the highly recommended Wagner Blog - well worth subscribing to or bookmarking if you haven't already..

In brief, the letter - countersigned by  all of the North American Societies, - makes the following points:

1 the long and close association with the Festival

2 that the Societies work promotes Wagner's works internationally

3 that they have always adhered to Bayreuth's policy in ticket allocation

3 their voluntary nature

4 the support, including financial, they offer young artists with a particular talent for Wagner

5 the direct financial donations most societies make  to the Gesellschaft der Freunde von Bayreuth

To read the full text, and detailed commentary from the editor of the Wagner Blog, please click THIS LINK.

What is it with Bayreuth and Y-Fronts?
Before you do wonder off, I would like to make an unusual personal comment. While I understand why the societies might be a bit "miffed" at the poor way this has been handled - and indeed the poor reasoning behind it - I have no idea why people are so "keen" to get tickets to recent productions . Yes, the Festival is without doubt of some historical interest to anyone interested in Wagner and yes it does have acoustic properties that benefit the Ring to some degree, but most specifically Parsifal (although anyone familiar with the history of Wagner will know how  many conductors dislike conducting there). However, long gone seem to be the days when the festival attracted the worlds greatest Wagner performers on, and under,  its stage (often for greatly reduced fees). Indeed, there is, to paraphrase poorly Wagner's favorite author, something wrong in the state of Bayreuth  when the finest cast and conductor in a production of Tristan und Isolde is to be found not in Bayreuth but elsewhere this year.

More Pants
Equally gone - at least looking at present productions - are the days of Wieland's innovative, if texturally sensitive productions or indeed Wolfgang's "regressive" yet interesting productions. Now, it might be argued, we have something of the worse of  "Regietheater":  with a Meistersinger containing representations of Wagner with a giant penis (even if he would have been enamoured himself which such a devise or representation) and a tasteless Tannhäuser that is not only textually illogical and "untrue" but concludes with players being dragged off to "gas chambers" - productions often critically derided. (And this is from someone who finds Regietheatre less problematic then many). And the future is not looking much brighter as Gudrun Stegen of Deutsche Welle pointed out recently with a 2013 Ring Cycle being directed by, "Frank Castorf, the controversial director of the Berliner Volksbühne theater. Critics bemoan his complete lack of opera experience".

Yes, Bayreuth is important, but the large number of Wagner productions in Germany alone, never mind elsewhere - often with casts that consist of some of the finest Wagner artists in the world  and with which Bayreuth seems unable to compete- may perhaps make the Festival far less important than the present "furore" would suggest.

Disclaimer: The Wagnerian is not a member of a Wagner Society and equally has no interest in acquiring a ticket to Bayreuth - at least for not some time.
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