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Ernest Newman's Wagner Operas Republished As Print And Ebook

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 31 August 2013 | 2:34:00 am

Ernest Newman's, perhaps legendary, 1949, "Wagner Operas" (or "Wagner Nights" as some may know it) has once again, been republished - and this time also as a kindle ebook. Extensive, detailed and not without some wit - although nowadays perhaps "old fashioned" in places -  Newman's 800 odd page introduction and analysis of Wagners works remains more than a good starting place to investigate their development, sources and influncers. A preview can be found below. Recommended.

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New Wagner Book: Richard Wagner A Life in Music - Martin Geck

English Translation - by Stewart Spencer - of Martin Geck's Richard Wagner A Life in Music. One that has been added to our reading list. However, the description below is the publishers, not ours. A review shall follow later, while the interested reader can read from a greatly extended preview by clicking here.

Translated by Stewart Spencer
464 pages | 43 halftones, 37 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2013 
Best known for the challenging four-opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung, Richard Wagner (1813–83) was a conductor, librettist, theater director, and essayist, in addition to being the composer of some of the most enduring operatic works in history, such as The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, and Tristan and Isolde. Though his influence on the development of European music is indisputable, Wagner was also quite outspoken on the politics and culture of his time. His ideas traveled beyond musical circles into philosophy, literature, theater staging, and the visual arts. To befit such a dynamic figure, acclaimed biographer Martin Geck offers here a Wagner biography unlike any other, one that strikes a unique balance between the technical musical aspects of Wagner’s compositions and his overarching understanding of aesthetics.

Wagner has always inspired passionate admirers as well as numerous detractors, with the result that he has achieved a mythical stature nearly equal to that of the Valkyries and Viking heroes he popularized. There are few, if any, scholars today who know more about Wagner and his legacy than Geck, who builds upon his extensive research and considerable knowledge as one of the editors of the Complete Works to offer a distinctive appraisal of the composer and the operas. Using a wide range of sources, from contemporary scholars to the composer’s own words, Geck explores key ideas in Wagner’s life and works, while always keeping the music in the foreground. Geck discusses not only all the major operas, but also several unfinished operas and even the composer’s early attempts at quasi-Shakespearean drama.

Richard Wagner: A Life in Music is a landmark study of one of music’s most important figures, offering something new to opera enthusiasts, Wagnerians, and anti-Wagnerians alike.
Introduction: Figuring Out Wagner?
Chapter 1          The Archetypal Theatrical Scene: From Leubald to Die Feen
                        A Word about Felix Mendelssohn
Chapter 2          The Blandishments of Grand Opera: Das Liebesverbot and Rienzi
                        A Word about Giacomo Meyerbeer
Chapter 3          “Deep shock” and “a violent change of direction”: Der fliegende Holländer
                        A Word about Heinrich Heine
Chapter 4          Rituals to Combat Fear and Loneliness: Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg
                        A Word about Josef Rubinstein
Chapter 5          A Bedtime Story with Dire Consequences: Lohengrin
                        A Word about Arnold Schoenberg
Chapter 6          The Revolutionary Drafts: Achilles, Jesus of Nazareth, Siegfried’s Death, and Wieland the Smith
                        A Word about Paul Bekker
Chapter 7          “We have art so as not to be destroyed by the truth”: The Ring as a Nineteenth-Century Myth
                        A Word about Angelo Neumann
Chapter 8          “My music making is in fact magic making, for I just cannot produce music coolly and mechanically”: The Art of the Ring; Seen from the Beginning
                        A Word about George Steiner
Chapter 9          “He resembles us to a tee; he is the sum total of present-day intelligence”: The Art of the Ring; Wotan’s Music
                        A Word about Sergei Eisenstein
Chapter 10        “A mystical pit, giving pleasure to individuals”: Tristan und Isolde
                        A Word about Ernst Bloch
Chapter 11        “A magnificent, overcharged, heavy, late art”: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
                        A Word about Berthold Auerbach
Chapter 12        “They’re hurrying on toward their end, though they think they will last for ever”: The Art of the Ring; Seen from the End
                        A Word about Theodor W. Adorno
Chapter 13        “You will see—diminished sevenths were just not possible!”: Parsifal
                        A Word about Gustav Mahler
Chapter 14        Wagner as the Sleuth of Modernism

Review Excerpts:

Laurence Dreyfus, author of Wagner and the Erotic Impulse
“Martin Geck’s major new study of Wagner’s oeuvre moves at a fast but engaging pace. In a remarkably fleet translation by Stewart Spencer, the book is studded with historical insights, not least because Geck capitalizes on little-known diary entries, letters, and documentary evidence that imbue his readings with genuinely fresh perspectives. The author’s erudition is worn lightly, and his provocative forays into the so-called Jewish Question—by treating a succession of Jewish figures in the Wagnerian universe in separate ‘contrapuntal’ chapters—encourages a contextual view of the composer’s work at the same time that it grapples with what we might treasure in Wagner today.”
Thomas S. Grey, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Wagner
“Martin Geck’s new biography deftly weaves both familiar and unfamiliar facts about the composer to create a striking, fresh portrait, or rather a tapestry, shot through with insightful remarks on musical matters. The contributions of language, harmony, leitmotif, voices, instrumentation, and stage production to the elusive goal of a ‘total artwork’ are illuminated from the perspective of Wagner’s own life and writings as well as that of many notable contemporaries. Geck engages the politics of Wagner’s legacy honestly and without polemics. A series of brief interchapters on key Jewish figures in the composer’s biography and in his reception offer a novel, constructive approach to the vexed theme of Wagner’s anti-Semitism. The scholarly frame of reference is truly international. Geck succeeds brilliantly in synthesizing the complex phenomenon of Wagner in a thoroughly approachable yet consistently provocative study.”

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Watch On-demand: Don Carlo. Salzburg, Jonas Kaufmann, et al

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 20 August 2013 | 12:33:00 am

Antonio Pappano conductor
Peter Stein stage director
Ferdinand Wögerbauer set designer
Annamaria Heinreich costume designer
Joachim Barth lightings
Lia Tsolaki choreography
Jörn Hinnerk Andresen chorus master
Matti Salminen (Flilppo II)
Jonas Kaufmann (Don Carlo)
Anja Harteros (Elisabetta di Valois)
Thomas Hampson (Rodrigo, Marchese di Posa)
Ekaterina Semenchuk (La Principessa Eboli)
Eric Halfvarson (Il Grande Inquisitore)
Robert Lloyd (Un frate)
Maria Celeng (Tebaldo)
Sen Guo (Una voce dal cielo)
Benjamin Bernheim (Il Conte di Lerma/Un Araldo reale)
Members of the Young Singers Project (Sei deputati fiamminghi)
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus
Wiener Philharmoniker
Agnes Méthmovie director

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Download recordings of all of Wagner's "mature" works - free

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 10 August 2013 | 3:59:00 pm

Now while this should not be assumed as legal advice, a little explanation,  in the simplest of terms: under copyright laws (in most countries), sound recordings enter the public domain 50 years after the end of the year their original  publication date . So, in most jurisdictions (including the UK/Europe and elsewhere) any recording released on or before December 1962 should be in the public domain as of now. Again, this should not be assumed to be legal advice, changes in Europe are occurring by 2014 and we can only advice you to check with your local copyright laws.See here for an international overview: List of countries' copyright length

This is one of the reasons that you will see multiple companies selling copies of older recordings.

Now, with that out of the way, an audio editing hobbyist with a particular fondness for Wagner, (who is well known to many that have spent the years on various Wagner forums and newsgroups), William Hong, has remastered and made available for free a number of "classic" Wagner recordings. Originally, as noted by A.C Douglas this was at first the original 1953 Kruass Ring (click here to read the original post). However, he has now remastered and made available the following recordings:

Knappertsbusch 1951 Bayreuth Parsifal:

Krauss 1953 Bayreuth Ring Cycle:

Jochum 1954 Bayreuth Lohengrin:

Kempe 1956 Berlin Meistersinger: 

Karajan 1952 Bayreuth Tristan und Isolde.

Further information - and the download links - can be found at the Wagnerheim Forum

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Pierre Boulez Cancels Lucerne performances

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 6 August 2013 | 9:08:00 pm

Pierre Boulez has cancelled his two appearances at Lucerne on Sept. 7 and 9. A spokesperson announced that the cancellation was due to Boulez breaking his shoulder. They did not say how the accident occurred or indeed, how long it may leave him unable conduct.

Pablo Heras-Casado, the music director of the Orchestra of St. Luke's, will step in for Boulez on both dates
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Listen Now: Seattle Opera's Ring Cycle Cast - 2013

Kindly provided by Seattle Opera. all performances recorded in rehearsal:

There are still a few tickets available.  Check here for details

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Watch Now: Asher Fisch Discuses The Ring Motifs

Asher Fisch explores the "building blocks" of Siegfried's Funeral March, highlighting Wagner's evocative motifs and inspired instrumentation. Includes footage of Maestro at the piano and conducting full orchestra.

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Listen Live : Seattle Opera - Der Ring des Nibelungen 2013

This years Seattle Oper's "Green Ring" will be broadcast in its entirety on Classic KING FM. After a few days delay King will transmit Seattle Opera's first cycle that begain August 4. Dates and times below:

To Listen on the net visit: Classic King FM

August 10 - 7pm:Das Rheingold 

August 17 - 7pm: Die Walküre

August 24 Siegfried

August 31 - Götterdämmerung

More At: Seattle Opera

Times correct for August 10 and 17. Please check with King FM for all other time

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Watch Now - On-demand: Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg, Salzburg 2013

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 3 August 2013 | 7:19:00 pm

Made available by 3Sat. Catch it while you can - it won't stay up for long. It is, as expected, very Stefan Herheim.

Daniele Gatti, Conductor
Stefan Herheim, Director

Performers: Anna Gabler, Monika Bohinec, Michael Volle, Roberto Saccà, Georg Zeppenfeld, Markus Werba, Peter Sonn, Thomas Ebenstein, Guido Jentjens, Oliver Zwarg, Benedikt Kobel, Franz Supper, Thorsten Scharnke, Karl Huml, Dirk Aleschus, Roman Astakhov, Tobias Kehrer, "Academy Meistersinger": Julia Helena Bernhart, Reinhild Buchmayer, Christiane Döcker, Katrin Lena Heles, Stepanka Pucalkova, Onur Abaci, Sascha Emanuel Kramer, Omer Kobiljak, Martin Mairinger, Amer Mulalic, Markus Murke, Angelo Pollak, Derek Rue

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New Issue Of Wagner Journal Published

'The bicentenary of Wagner will be celebrated throughout the world (albeit with at least one notable exception), wrote the editor of The Wagner Journal, Barry Millington, in a previous editorial. In the July 2013 issue, The Wagner Journal rectifies that omission, with a fascinating article about the Wagner ban in Israel by the Israeli scholar Nâ ama Sheffi, whose book The Ring of Myths has just been republished in English in a revised edition. And a brief glance at the contents of and contributors to this issue again reveals the astonishing worldwide phenomenon that is Wagner".
Tash Siddiqui, Guest Editor
The July 2013 issue (vol.7, no.2), now available, contains the following feature articles:

• 'Sound of Silence and Struggle: Wagner and the Israelis' by Na'ama Sheffi

• ' "Only You Could Save Bayreuth!": The Life of Richard Wagner's Granddaughter Friedelind' by Eva Rieger

• 'Parsifal as Contagion Narrative and Discourse of Mourning' by Edward A. Bortnichak and Paula M. Bortnichak

plus reviews of:

Jonas Kaufmann in the La Scala Lohengrin and Met Parsifal; the new Zurich Holländer; and Thomas Hengelbrock's 'period' Parsifal

The Opus Arte Wagner Edition and Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen on DVD

'Wagner's Vision', a 50-CD set celebrating the Bayreuth legacy

John W. Barker's Wagner and Venice Fictionalised, Hugh Ridley's Wagner and the Novel, the Overture Opera Guide to Der fliegende Holländer, ed. Gary Kahn, The Legacy of Richard Wagner, ed. Luca Sala, Jonathan Brown's Great Wagner Conductors, and Anton Seidl's On Conducting (reprint)

More at: The Wagner Journal
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Does Bayreuth Deserve Better?

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday 2 August 2013 | 11:39:00 pm

Frank Castorf reminisces about 80's dance craze "voguing". Eva W feigns ignorance

"Castorf is a director who took the money, wanted notoriety and tried to face down a public. I know whose side I'm on. I wish that the Wagner half-sisters, Eva and Katharina, who run Bayreuth, were on that side, too. But after seeing this deliberately incoherent Ring cycle, it is hard to believe they are."

"Some will be rightly squeamish about what took place. Booing is nasty and cruel. In Germany, it comes freighted with a dark history, too. It is particularly devastating for singers, who are doing their best, often in difficult circumstances. But Castorf seemed to revel in it, almost as if the audience verdict was a badge of honour or a vindication."

"His take on the Ring was ultimately – and perhaps deliberately – incoherent"

"He tried to ignore everything with which Wagner had provided him. He seemed to say that such an effort was inherently unworthy in the 21st century, and he essentially blew a raspberry at the entire Wagnerian inheritance"

Martin Kettle, reflects on Bayreuth's new Ring Cycle

I have spent many years in many opera houses and I have heard booing there many times. I have heard booing, in particular, in German opera houses, places in which the tradition of making your disapproval clear when the curtain falls sometimes seems to be as reflexive and automatic as the volleys of bravos during the most humdrum performance at New York's Metropolitan Opera. But I have never heard booing that matched the loudness and endurance from the outraged audience at this week's Bayreuth festival.

This display of vehement displeasure, at the end of Frank Castorf'sproduction of the Ring cycle, was aimed at the Berlin-based Castorf and his creative team, including set designer Aleksandar Denic and the costumes, lighting and video of Adriana Braga Peretzki, Rainer Casper, Andreas Deinert and Jens Crull. It was not directed at the conductor, Russian-born Kirill Petrenko, who the audience cheered to the rafters. Nor was it aimed at the singers, although Catherine Foster's Brünnhilde was booed earlier in the cycle and at the end of Götterdämmerung.Lance Ryan's Siegfried and Attila Jun's Hagen also received some of the audience's displeasure. But overwhelmingly, the Bayreuth audience liked what they heard. It was what they saw that they hated.

The explosion on Wednesday, after Götterdämmerung, had been building up all week. Castorf and his team did not take curtain calls during the other three operas, so their appearance at the end of the cycle unleashed a pent-up tempest akin to the thunderstorms that explode over Bayreuth in a hot, humid August. Not surprisingly, tempers in a theatre without air conditioning can become very short. And what a storm it was.

Some will be rightly squeamish about what took place. Booing is nasty and cruel. In Germany, it comes freighted with a dark history, too. It is particularly devastating for singers, who are doing their best, often in difficult circumstances. But Castorf seemed to revel in it, almost as if the audience verdict was a badge of honour or a vindication. He stood on the stage for more than 10 minutes, mocking his detractors with a thumbs up, ironic applause and dismissive waves. Castorf's response enraged the audience even more. There is no way to know who would have won this battle of wills had not Petrenko diffidently put his head around the curtain to remind Castorf that the orchestra still had to take its traditional end-of-cycle bow. (The orchestra was cheered to the heavens.)

Continue Reading

You might also want to read his reviews of the individual dramas here and here

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Listen Now: Why Wagner May Murder You In Your Bed

Wagnerian in renames site The Portillian shock?

The Moral Maze is a radio programme on BBC Radio 4, broadcast since 1990. Four regular panellists discuss moral and ethical issues relating to a recent news story. Michael Buerk delivers a preamble launching the topic, then introduces the first witness. The debate is often combative and guest witnesses may be cross-examined aggressively.

This weeks question to the house: "Is Wagner’s music morally tainted by his anti-semtism?"

Be warned, you may never hear such nonsense, faulty reasoning and sheer fantasy about Wagner in one room and in only 43 minutes.

Although we have to admit that Michael Portillo has just become our hero. Don't blame us if we start a fan club. Click play below
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Rick Fulker Concludes His Bayreuth Diary: "This emotion is pure hate."

" Because Castorf won't leave, the audience stands up and starts to. I feel queasy."

"'s clearly the public's turn to vocalize. That explains the hyped up emotion of the moment. But this emotion is pure hate."

"Bayreuth now has its scandal. And maybe that was the festival directors' goal all along."

"Frank Castorf seems to fear nothing but consistency and depth - and maybe the "Ring itself."

The stage direction a provocation, the music a revelation - and then there's the requisite scandal, says Rick Fulker. The Castorf-Petrenko "Ring" will fan the flames of discussion for some time.

"I've never seen anything like it!" was the comment I heard most often in the auditorium.

At the "Ring" in Bayreuth, it's the custom for the stage director to appear before the curtain only after the fourth opera in the tetralogy, "Twilight of the Gods," is over. The moment comes that everyone's been waiting for. Hans Castorf and his team are assailed by the loudest cascade of boos, screams and catcalls ever heard. Castorf smiles mildly - and stays put. Points with his forefinger to his head, as though to say, "Are you all nitwits?" The insult brings the hellish yelling to a further crescendo.

Motionless, slightly bent, a supercilious smile: Castorf doesn't budge - even after the curtain opens to let orchestra, chorus, cast and the complete team take their share of the ovations. It's like he's saying, "It's only about me." The fabulous conductor Kirill Petrenko and his musicians have to share boos with the director. For five very long minutes. Because Castorf won't leave, the audience stands up and starts to. I feel queasy.

After four days and sixteen hours of Wagnerian singing, it's clearly the public's turn to vocalize. That explains the hyped up emotion of the moment. But this emotion is pure hate.
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DVD Release Of The Herheim Parsifal From Bayreuth Cancelled!

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 1 August 2013 | 1:18:00 pm

Prayers maybe the only way this production sees DVD release

One does wonder about business and management decisions being made at Bayreuth. In 2012 it was announced, to some fanfare, that the highly acclaimed Herheim Parsifal from Bayreuth, would be made available on DVD and Blu-ray in April this year by Opus Arte (owned by the Royal Opera House). This date passed without said appearance or indeed any comment from Opus Arte or Bayreuth.
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The Wagnerian Recommends

We often receive requests to recommend Rings cycles, Wagner books, etc.  For sometime we have considered the best way to try and provide a list of items that we either recommend or we thought might be of some interest - even if they were not necessarily on our "must have list" and occasionally are items we rarely turn to.

So far, the best way of us doing this, without taking a great deal of time - was using what Amazon calls its "associates program". In simple terms this allows us to use an amazon API to create a sort of Amazon Wagner "store".

However, there is a problem for us in using this. That is that we receive a commission for each item sold. And, as regular readers will be aware we are a none profit site. You see the problem?

Nevertheless, it still, for now seems the best way of doing this. Thus readers can click the link below and be sent to our list of suggested Wagner "products".

However, we must give the following information and disclaimers:

Any product ordered will not be ordered from "The Wagnerian" but from Amazon and thus any enquires about delivery, returns, payment, etc are to be made to Amazon - not us.

We make commission on anything you buy and as we are not especially concerned about "making money" recommend that you also look at other sources for anything you are interested in. This is especially so with books and CDs where your local independent retailer may be in more  need of your "hard earned cash" than Amazon is. Treat as simply a recommended list and you will probable not go to far wrong.

It links to Amazon UK only. We may consider linking to Amazon across the world later. But for now, we stress again, to simply treat it as a recommendation list and shop around. Plus its useful in that it should allow you to sample most music or books before buying.

And so, with that in mind:

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Frank Castorf tells booing Bayreuth audience, "You're mental mate"

Frank Castorf tells audience, "And you know what you can do 'an all"

Oh dear! How etiquette has fallen at Bayreuth. As is fairly "traditional", at the end of tonight's Gotterdammerung Director Frank Castorf made his first appearance on the stage. Alas, this did not go well, as he was meet with a shower of, equally traditional, booing - although this was perhaps a little more "energetic" than normal. It seems that after standing still for nearly ten minutes while much of the audience booed and whistled at him loudly, he lost his composure somewhat first "egging" the audience on to boo louder and then pointing first at the audience and then his forehead. A time honoured indicator that he thought that it was not he and his production that was "out of its mind" but the audience. And perhaps in keeping with the "Carry On" theme of this years Ring cycle

We are unsure if the audience's response was what set designer, Aleksandar Denic meant when he told Reuters: "I like it if there is a response, that is the biggest compliment to me".

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