Wagner 200 is a wide-ranging, London-based festival to celebrate the bicentenary of Richard Wagner’s birth.
It opens on 22 May on Wagner’s 200th birthday and features events from May to December 2013 in association with leading cultural organizations including Royal Opera House, Southbank Centre, Barbican Centre, Royal Albert Hall, Kings Place, British Library, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Radio 3, The Wagner Society, Opus Arte, London Song Festival and London Jewish Cultural Centre.
Wagner 200 has a particular focus on British artists, offering a spectrum of talent from the most distinguished to the rising stars of today.
- Wagner 200th Birthday Concert (22 May) with the Philharmonia Orchestra/ Andrew Davis, and soloists Susan Bullock, James Rutherford and Giselle Allen. Preceded by an afternoon of pop-up Wagner activities on the Festival Hall terrace, balcony and foyers
- Wagner/Liszt recitals (26–28 June) by Janice Watson/Joseph Middleton and Llŷr Williams, and a dramatised re-creation of the events surrounding the first performance of the Siegfried Idyll, starring Harriet Walter and Henry Goodman with the Aurora Orchestra and Nicholas Collon
- Reading of the complete Ring text in English featuring John Tomlinson as Narrator/Master of Ceremonies and a company of young actors from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (9 June)
- Three symposia on Wagner in Performance (29–30 June) featuring an international roster of Wagner experts followed by screenings of Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
- Two events devoted to Wagner and the Jews at the London Jewish Cultural Centre (6 October and 10 December)
- Masterclasses by Gwyneth Jones and John Tomlinson (28 May and 25 November)
- Lectures by Keith Warner (24 April), Tim Blanning (11 July), Mike Ashman (12 September) and John Deathridge (10 October)
- Concerts by the LSO (28 November) and BBC Symphony Orchestra (20 December)
- Wagner the Writer study day (8 June)
Full itinerary announced so far:
Royal Festival Hall
22 May, 7.30pm
Wagner 200th Birthday Concert
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis
Soloists: Susan Bullock, James Rutherford, Giselle Allen with rising British stars as Valkyries
Wagner Prelude, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Wagner Prelude and Liebestod, Tristan und Isolde
Wagner Die Walküre, Act 3
Semi-staged performance in German with English surtitles
Britain’s reigning Brünnhilde, Susan Bullock, stars with the leading Wagner bass James Rutherford and a talented cast of sister Valkyries in the complete Act 3 of Die Walküre. The celebratory Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde complete the programme.
This high-profile concert will be preceded by an afternoon of free pop-up Wagner activities, balcony fanfares à la Bayreuth and a performance of Vitali Bujanowski’s arrangement of Ring highlights for 16 horns, as well as performances of the Siegfried Idyll
There will also be an exhibition of illustrations from Barry Millington’s new publication, Richard Wagner: The Sorcerer of Bayreuth, in the foyer.
St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
23 May, 7.30pm
London Song Festival: recital to include complete songs by Wagner, including some rarely heard curiosities.
Elisabeth Meister soprano
Gidon Saks bass-baritone
Nigel Foster piano
A former member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, Elisabeth Meister has sung a number of roles with the Royal Opera and other leading companies. Gidon Saks has sung Wagner roles such as Hagen, Hunding, Daland, Fasolt and King Henry at ENO, La Fenice and other international houses.
Bank Holiday Weekend, 24–27 May
Screening of Bayreuth Centenary Ring
Friday 24 May Das Rheingold
Saturday 25 May Die Walküre
Sunday 26 May Siegfried
Monday 27 May Götterdämmerung
A screening of the landmark production of Wagner’s Ring directed by Patrice Chéreau for the centenary of the Bayreuth Festival in 1976, with associated talks and interviews involving cast and production members. This production, a classic in the history of Wagner stagings, was hugely influential both in its political interpretation of the tetralogy and in its theatrical vibrancy. Patrice Chéreau will be on hand to discuss his work and Gwyneth Jones, who starred as Brünnhilde, will also be present to share her memories of the production.
A curated season of Wagner-related films, to include the UK premiere of a new film about Wagner and the Jews by Hilan Warshaw, as well as the definitive, remastered HD version of Tony Palmer’s classic Wagner film starring Richard Burton and Vanessa Redgrave. Supplemented by live interviews with related artists/directors.
Royal Opera House
Wagner Masterclasses with Gwyneth Jones (28 May, 7.30pm) and John Tomlinson (25 November, 7.30pm), followed by interviews about their respective Wagnerian careers.
Acclaimed as one of the greatest Wagner sopranos of the second half of the 20th century, Gwyneth Jones appeared at nearly every Bayreuth Festival between 1966 and 1982 and took a wide range of roles in all the leading opera houses of the world. She draws on a wealth of experience and a rich fund of anecdote, as can be seen in both her masterclass and in the discussion with Humphrey Burton that follows.
A legend in his own lifetime, John Tomlinson has been striding the world’s stages as Wotan, Hunding, Hagen, Gurnemanz, Hans Sachs, as well as other roles, for most of his distinguished career, appearing at the Bayreuth Festival for eighteen consecutive seasons from 1988. After the masterclass he will talk about his international career and the challenges of singing Wagner.
International celebrity interview: Daniel Barenboim
One of the leading Wagner conductors in the world today, Daniel Barenboim brings a deeply considered, intellectual approach to his work. In this interview he discusses the problematic issues surrounding Wagner both in history and in the contemporary world. Please refer to website for details.
The Royal Opera’s main contribution to the Wagner bicentenary is a new production of Parsifal by Stephen Langridge, conducted by Antonio Pappano, with Simon O’Neill, René Pape, Gerald Finley and Angela Denoke.
Details of auxiliary events will be publicised in due course.
Sat 8 June, 10.30am – 5pm
Wagner the Writer (study day)
Venue: Conference Centre, British Library
Wagner’s writings range widely over subjects as various as race, climate, vegetarianism, aesthetics and modern science. Above all he was formulating ideas that would take dramatic shape in his operas. Distinguished authorities speak about Wagner’s immense literary output with opportunities for discussion and debate. Promoted by the British Library to coincide with the digitisation of its Wagner holdings. In association with The Wagner Journal.
Sun 9 June, 11am – 6pm
Wagner’s Ring Cycle: a Complete Reading
Venue: Conference Centre, British Library
A rare reading of the entire Ring cycle, in English, featuring John Tomlinson as Narrator/Master of Ceremonies and a company of young actors from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama directed by William Relton. This reading provides a rare opportunity both to experience the richness and subtlety of Wagner’s writing and to thrill to the drama of the text as poetry.
Wednesday 26 June, 7.30pm
Janice Watson soprano
Joseph Middleton piano
A recital by one of Britain’s leading dramatic sopranos to include Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder and some of his less frequently performed songs, as well as examples by his friend and father-in-law Franz Liszt. The songs Wagner wrote in Paris for celebrated singers include the Adieux de Marie Stuart with its striking grand operatic gestures, while the better-known Wesendonck Lieder, written to poems by his muse and lover, Mathilde Wesendonck, are more intimate in nature. Liszt’s songs include some of the most beautiful in the lieder repertoire.
Thursday 27 June, 7.30pm
Llŷr Williams piano
A recital by the outstanding Welsh pianist to feature Wagner rarities plus dazzling transcriptions of Wagner by Liszt including Isolde’s Liebestod. Many of Wagner’s piano pieces, of which the sonata for ‘M.W.’ (Mathilde Wesendonck) is the most substantial, were dedicatory ‘albumleaves’ for friends and admirers.
Wagner Fantasia in F sharp minor
Sonate für das Album von Frau M.W.
Albumblatt in E major (‘Song Without Words’)
Albumblatt in E flat major (for Frau Betty Schott)
Ankunft bei den schwarzen Schwänen
Wagner, arr. Liszt Fantasy on Themes from Rienzi
Spinning Chorus and Senta’s Ballad(Der fliegende Holländer)
Entry of the Guests and ‘O du mein holder Abendstern’ (Tannhäuser)
Elsa’s Dream (Lohengrin)
Isolde’s Liebestod (Tristan)
Fri 28 June, 8pm
Aurora Orchestra, conductor Nicholas Collon
A dramatised re-creation by Barry Millington of the events surrounding the first performance of the Siegfried Idyll, together with performances of the Idyll and the Beethoven Septet (also played on that day at Haus Tribschen).
Speakers: Harriet Walter and Henry Goodman
Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June 2013, Hall 1
Wagner in Performance
Three symposia in association with The Wagner Journal featuring an international roster of Wagner experts examining aspects of the performance of his music under the headings Singing, Conducting and Stage Production. Each symposium will consist of three presentations (six for Stage Production) followed by a round table.
Saturday 29 June, 10am–1pm
Vocal Style in Wagner from the Golden Age to the Present
What can be learned about Wagner singing from the great artists of the past? Why is it so difficult to cast Wagner operas today? What can be done to rectify the matter?
Speakers: Mike Ashman, David Breckbill, Neil Howlett
Chair: John McMurray
Saturday 29 June, 2–5 pm
Throughout history, lithe, fluid and gestural styles of conducting Wagner (Bülow, Böhm, Pappano) have contrasted with more monumental approaches (Knappertsbusch, Goodall, Levine). Which is more faithful to Wagner’s intentions? How is Wagner conducting likely to evolve in the decades to come?
Speakers: Roger Allen, Raymond Holden, David Breckbill
Chair: Peter Franklin
Sunday 30 June, 10am–5pm
The Challenge of Director’s Opera
Opera production in the modern age has come to be dominated by ‘director’s opera’ or Regietheater. Does contemporary stagecraft represent a travesty or a triumphant fulfilment of the Gesamtkunstwerk? Will traditional stagings ever return? Or is director’s opera here to stay?
Speakers: Edward Bortnichak, Ingrid Kapsamer, Hugo Shirley, Tash Siddiqui, Katherine Syer, Simon Williams
Chairs: Patrick Carnegy, Nicholas Payne
29 - 30 June,
Wagner on the Big Screen
Screenings of Tristan und Isolde (Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s Glyndebourne production) and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Katharine Wagner’s Bayreuth production) from the Opus Arte catalogue
Saturday 29 June 6.00pm Tristan und Isolde
Sunday 30 June 6.00pm Die Meistersinger
The screenings are supported by Opus Arte.
Royal Albert Hall
Performances and events surrounding Wagner’s Ring cycle (Berlin Staatsoper forces under Daniel Barenboim) plus other Wagner operas (information embargoed) at the BBC Proms.
London Jewish Cultural Centre
Sunday 6 October, 2pm
Venue address: LJCC, Ivy House, 94–96 North End Road, London, NW11 7SX
(email@example.com; 020 8457 5000)
Wagner and the Jews
A discussion about the issues raised by Wagner’s anti-Semitism; speakers to include Mark Berry, Cori Ellison, Erik Levi and Barry Millington. Chair: Trudy Gold.
Tuesday 10 December, 7.30pm
In spite of his barely concealed anti-semitism, Wagner was surrounded by a coterie of Jewish followers. This event includes a screening of Hilan Warshaw’s new film Wagner’s Jews, which investigates the phenomenon, following which a panel discussion will examine the wider issues of Wagner’s reception by Jews throughout history and today.
Thursday 28 November, 7.30pm
LSO concert to include Tristan und Isolde Act 2 conducted by Daniel Harding, with Katarina Dalayman, Peter Seiffert and Christianne Stotijn.
Friday 20 December, 7.30pm
BBC Symphony Orchestra concert, cond. Edward Gardner with Christine Brewer (soprano). Programme to include Wesendonck Lieder, Prelude to Tristan und Isolde and Faust Overture.
The Wagner Society
Four lectures in association with the Wagner Society at intervals over the year and featuring high-profile speakers.
Wednesday 24 April 2013, 7.30pm
Venue: Queen’s College, 43–49 Harley St, London W1
Dame Eva Turner Lecture: Keith Warner
Keith Warner, the director of the recent Ring at Covent Garden, delivers the Eva Turner Lecture under the auspices of the Wagner Society.
The remaining lectures will take place at the Goethe-Institut, 50 Prince’s Gate, London SW7, all at 7.30pm:
Tim Blanning (11 July), Professor of Modern European History at the University of Cambridge, on ‘Richard Wagner and German Nationalism’.
Mike Ashman (12 September), writer and director, talks about ‘Wagner and Modern Productions’.
John Deathridge (10 October), the King Edward Professor of Music at the University of London, asks ‘Do We Still Need Wagner?’