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Richard Wagner presents Lohengrin

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 28 August 2014 | 8:27:00 am

Richard Wagner presents Lohengrin 
3rd September 2014 to 5th September 2014.
18:30 to 20:00
Rhodes University. South Africa


Jamie has now very kindly uploaded all of his Dutchman performance - with music and media to his website. You can watch it by following this link.

Following the dramatised readings of The Flying Dutchman and Tannhäuser last year, Jamie McGregor again reprises the role of Richard Wagner reading the text of his opera Lohengrin. The reading has been designed to introduce and complement an original audio-visual presentation of the opera itself, subdivided into conveniently sized and dramatically coherent episodes.

The "Wagner reading Wagner" project as a whole constitutes an innovative, entertaining and illuminating new approach to the perennially controversial German composer, and an unusually accessible introduction to his supposedly forbidding musical dramas. The readings will not only appeal to opera aficionados but to anyone with an interest in Romantic mythology and fairy tale (or even those simply curious to see an English lecturer impersonating a 19th century composer).

No specialist knowledge of the subject is necessary for a full enjoyment of the performance, while both the story and the music of the opera have an immediate appeal. Audiences have the option of attending the event either in full or in part, as the opera as a whole will be presented over three consecutive evenings – arranged as follows:

Act I - "The Forbidden Question"

Act II - "The Temptation of Elsa"

Act III - "The Revelation of the Secret"

Where: Beethoven Room, Rhodes Department of Music & Musicology

Cost: Admission free

For more information, visit the dedicated website: http://thelessthanperfectwagnerite.blogspot.com/
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Want to take part in some Wagner research?

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 21 August 2014 | 1:08:00 pm

Text and request below is from the research team - not "The Wagnerian"

Listening for Leitmotives in Wagner

It's hard to hear anything mentioned about the music of Richard Wagner without also hearing someone mention the word 'leitmotif'. Leitmotifs, if you are unfamiliar with the term, are small, dynamic musical ideas that are associated with a person, place, idea, or feeling. These leitmotifs undergo many different transformations throughout Wagner's operas and most importantly, contribute to the dramatic narrative. While this may be common knowledge to most musicologists, how different groups of people actually experience these leitmotifs has remained very unexplored in much of the academic literature.

Recently the Transforming Musicology team in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths have began to look into this question of how listeners perceive leitmotifs in Wagner's operas. For the first experiment of this project, we have started out with a very basic question we wish to answer: How good are listeners at recognizing leitmotifs and what (if any) factors lead to an individual's ability to identify leitmotifs? Based on similar research that has already been done we have assumed that factors such as an individual's musical training, familiarity with Wagner, the orchestration of the leitmotifs, the compositional structure of the leitmotifs and sheer number repetitions of a leitmotif would contribute to recognition rates.

In order to gain insight into this question, we designed an experiment that requires participants to listen to a ten minute excerpt from Der Ring des Nibelungen and then give them a memory test on some of the musical material they just heard. After this memory test, we ask participants to fill out a survey about their musical background, their familiarity with the music of Richard Wagner, as well give them an objective quiz about the life and music of Wagner. We plan to use the data that we collect to hopefully be able to predict how well an individual can recognize leitmotifs based on the survey results and the other previously mentioned factors.

We are still collecting data for the experiment, but have currently run into a minor difficulty in diversifying the sample from our population. It is easy enough to find participants of varying musical background that are willing to come and participate in a twenty minute experiment, but in order to find the trends that we have hypothesized to exist, we need to make sure that we have a wide spread of participants with varying Wagner expertise.

We are currently scouring London for anyone who would self identify as a fan of the music of Wagner and are looking for any help we can get in finding enough 'Wagnerians' to give our first experiment a sample that might yield some interesting trends. If you have ever considered calling yourself a 'Wagnerian' or know someone who might, please refer them to us. We would be more than happy to have them come into the lab and test their Wagner-ness in the name of science!

David Baker is a student on the MSc. programme in Music, Mind, and Brain in Psychology at Goldsmiths. As well as contributing to the Transforming Musicology project, this work will also be included in the dissertation David will submit as part of his degree. Please contact David directly by email ps301db@gold.ac.uk if you'd like to take part in the study.
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Bernd Weikl: Why Richard Wagner needs to be banned in Germany


UPDATE HERE

Bernd Weikl, yes the baritone well known for his Wagner roles, argues that Wagner's work not only should but must be banned in Germany.

Why? Well, it seems that after a very, financially, successful career performing Wagner, he has just discovered that Wagner was anti-Semitic [must have come as a surprise that, after all these years - Ed]. And not only was Wagner anti-Semitic but, according to Weikl, so are his dramas and operas [One hopes certain Wagner specialists - and the odd second rate Wagner conductor and opera director - are proud of themselves - Ed]. Indeed, so convinced is he of his argument that he uses Germany's criminal code - in particular articles 130. and 131 of the Criminal Code - claiming that Wagner's dramas with their "anti-Semitic content" fall under these laws.

Weikl makes his argument in his new "bestseller" "Warum Richard Wagner in Deutschland verboten werden muss" wherein he calls upon the research of a number of individuals in Wagner research and discussion to support his argument. These include: Paul Morand, Theodor W. Adorno, Hartmut Zelinsky, Thomas Mann, Marc A. Weiner, Saul Friedlander, Paul Lawrence Rose, Barry Millington, Ulrich Drüner, Annette Hein, Jens Malte Fischer and Gottfried Wagner

Of course, if anyone should be able to spot anti-Semitism it would be Weikl. After all, according to his own argument, he has been spouting anti-Semitism in public for years [inadvertently of course -  Sue, Grabbit & Runn (The Wagnerian's legal team)]. Please see the video evidence below. Or is it, as Han Sachs might say, "Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn!"

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Listen Now: When Tolkien Stole Wagner's Ring


Tolkien always vehemently denied any connection between his Lord of the Rings and Wagner's Ring Cycle. He once said: 'Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceased'.

But there is almost certainly more to it than that. Tolkien used the same Norse legends as Wagner for inspiration in 'Lord of the Rings', but it also seems likely that he took the original idea of an all-powerful and corrupting ring directly from Wagner. So why did he deny it? Perhaps Tolkien felt the taint of the Nazi associations that surrounded Wagner's music at the time he was writing. Perhaps he simply found Wagner's conclusions distasteful. Was Tolkien's work, in fact, conceived as a kind of antidote to Wagner's take on ultimate power.

Susan Hitch explores the connections between the pair of them.

BBC Radio 3: Twenty Minutes. To Listen Now On Demand Click Here
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Das Rhinegold: Malicious Dwarfs, Fair Nymphs & Heroic Gods

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 | 11:49:00 pm

Malicious Dwarfs, Fair Nymphs, Heroic Gods. Application and Transformation of Germanic Mythology in Richard Wagner’s libretto The Rhinegold 

Martin Blawid

According to Joachim Heinzle, the Nibelungensage represents the «most German among all German issues». The following essay seeks to analyze in how far the German composer Richard Wagner resorts either to a more traditional or to a more innovative representation of the Germanic influences in his libretto The Rhinegold, which is the opening part of his operatic tetralogy The Ring of the Nibelungen. Moving from an epistemological basis, the libretto will be examined with a special focus on how Wagner applies and transforms Germanic mythology in terms of the characters and of deictic references.

Originally published in:  Studia Theodisca, Vol 19, Iss 0, Pp 167-178 (2012)

Download By Clicking Here


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The Case of Wagner Against the Grain

The Case of Wagner Against the Grain: The Disagreement between Nietzsche and Adorno and its Relevance Today

João Pedro Cachopo

Published in:  PARRHESIA: A JOURNAL OF CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY. Issue 19. August 2014

Wagner’s oeuvre might amount today to no less conformist positions than those maintained by the composer himself—whose operas, rather than the more or less confused or confusing ideas, should be at issue. This does not mean either to suggest that ideological issues should be totally left aside from discussion, or to assume that the work is absolutely independent from the author. The refusal of reductionism of whatever kind (biographical, sociological, historical...) must not lead to the opposite assumption that artworks should be dealt with as purely
ideal entities. Both extremes are partial, and consequently faulty.

Therefore, if one draws a distinction between the composer’s more or less explicitly political ideas and the politics of his work, while by the same token not losing sight of how deeply Wagner’s operas and their reception were affected by social, ideological and political forces, the conditions are eventually met to acknowledge that the writings of Wagner’s critics—not less, at least, than his own essays—are of the utmost importance to discuss the “afterlife” of his work both aesthetically and politically. The avatars of its critical and artistic reception crucially bear on what Wagner’s work became and is today. They are the historical constituents of the work itself—not mere instances of an allegedly exterior process of reception. This view prompted me to take “the case of Wagner” as an epitome of such an “afterlife,” rather than, stricto sensu , as a reference to the Nietzschean quarrel with the composer of Parsifal.

Seen in this context it is hardly surprising that a comparative re-reading of the seminal texts of Nietzsche and Adorno will play a crucial role in this article. And yet, just as I will start out calling attention to a peculiar consonant point behind Lacoue-Labarthe’s and Badiou’s dissonant pronouncements on Wagner (“Wagner(ism)—between the aestheticization of politics and the politicization of aesthetics”), my aim, regarding Adorno and Nietzsche, is on the contrary to spot heir disagreement behind the long-standing presupposition of their compliance (“A barely noticed disagreement,” and “Neither... nor...”). At a first level this article—as its title allows the reader to hint from the outset—is indeed anattempt to revise the assumption that Nietzsche’s and Adorno’s criticisms
on Wagner complement each other. In fact, against this assumption, I will try to make apparent that they differ in practically all aspects and even undermine each other in the most decisive ones.

At end of the article (“Chronicle of an end foretold”) I will argue that such a disagreement sheds light of the very tensions inherent in Wagner’s operas to a degree—and this is the crucial point—that prevents any criticism on them from finding a stable vantage point. The aim, to be sure, is not to propose a newly resuscitated apologia of Wagner, but to raise the critical discussion on the set of his works to a level where their ambivalent, though unabated, untimeliness
might be brought into light.

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Missed Bayreuth 2014? Listen Now Here


Should you have missed this year's Bayreuth radio broadcasts then never fear. A number of radio stations keep them in their archives for short time and they can be listened to on demand. Alas, these are often in other languages then English meaning that directing an English speaker to them somewhat difficult. However, this year, Wagnermania has placed them on one one page, within  in one simple player from RTVE.

While not in English it should not prove difficult in this format,  for any English language speaker, to work out which drama is which. To listen click the link below, chose your Wagner, press the obvious play button and sitback.

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Unpublished Solti Die Walküre Released By Testament


As always with Testament's Wagner releases shockingly overpriced -  some might argue. To be released on September 9, 2014.

This release marks the first appearance of Georg Solti on Testament as an opera conductor in an historic performance of Die Walküre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in October 1961.

This is the first new production at the Royal Opera House conducted by Solti following his appointment as Musical Director of the Covent Garden Opera Company in 1961.

The outstanding cast includes Anita Välkki as Brünnhilde, Hans Hotter as Wotan, Claire Watson as Sieglinde, Jon Vickers as Siegmund, Rita Gorr as Fricka and Michael Langdon as Hunding.

The overall performance received high praise for its intensity and drive as well as Solti’s fine musicianship.

Solti obtains spectacularly fine playing from the Covent Garden Orchestra, described by the critics as ‘superb’, ‘magnificent’, ‘the finest since the war’ and ‘exciting beyond words’.

The production was meant to be the start of a complete Ring cycle directed by Hans Hotter and designed by Herbert Kern but Kern was replaced by Günther Schneider-Siemssen and the production revised, so this version stands alone and is not part of the eventual Ring cycle as completed in 1964.

Recorded live on 2 October 1961 after the premiere on 29 September.
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After Wagner: Histories of Modernist Music Drama from Parsifal to Nono by Mark Berry


Due October 2014.

This book is both a telling of operatic histories 'after' Richard Wagner, and a philosophical reflection upon the writing of those histories. Historical musicology reckons with intellectual and cultural history, and vice versa.

The 'after' of the title denotes chronology, but also harmony and antagonism within a Wagnerian tradition. Parsifal, in which Wagner attempted to go beyond his achievement in the Ring, to write 'after' himself, is followed by two apparent antipodes: the strenuously modernist Arnold Schoenberg and the æstheticist Richard Strauss. Discussion of Strauss's Capriccio, partly in the light of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, reveals a more 'political' work than either first acquaintance or the composer's 'intention' might suggest.

Then come three composers from subsequent generations: Luigi Dallapiccola, Luigi Nono, and Hans Werner Henze. Geographical context is extended to take in Wagner's Italian successors; the problem of political emancipation in and through music drama takes another turn here, confronting challenges and opportunities in more avowedly 'politically engaged' art. A final section explores the world of staging opera, of so-called Regietheater, as initiated by Wagner himself. Stefan Herheim's celebrated Bayreuth production of Parsifal, and various performances of Lohengrin are discussed, before looking back to Mozart (Don Giovanni) and forward to Alban Berg's Lulu and Nono's Al gran sole carico d'amore. Throughout, the book invites us to consider how we might perceive the æsthetic and political integrity of the operatic work 'after Wagner'.

Original language English
Place of publication Woodbridge
Publisher The Boydell Press
Publication date Oct 2014
ISBN (Print) 9781843839682
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Opera Australia's Melbourne Ring Triumphs At 2014 Helpmann Awards



The $20m Melbourne Ring swept the opera category awards at this years Helpmann Awards, including the best opera award. Warwick Fyfe picked up
Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera,  Jacqueline Dark was awarded Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera, Terje Stensvold was awarded Best Male Performer in an Opera and Neil Armfield was awarded Best Direction of an Opera
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Why Digital Music Looks Set to Replace Live Performances

This August's production of Richard Wagner's four-opera Ring cycle in Hartford, Conn., has been postponed.

Rather than hiring pit musicians, producer Charles M. Goldstein had intended to accompany the singers with sampled instrument sounds, played by a computer. Not a CD, not a synthesizer; the computer triggers the playback of individual notes (“samples”) originally recorded from real instruments.

The reaction of professional musicians—and, of course, the musicians' union—was swift and furious. New York City's Local 802 president called it operatic karaoke. Hate mail poured in. In the end, the opera's music director, as well as two of the stars, withdrew from the production.

I know exactly what Goldstein must be feeling right about now. For my first 10 years out of college, I worked on Broadway shows as a musical director and arranger. In 1993 the group now called the Broadway League (of theater owners) contacted me. They wanted me to demonstrate how well computers and samplers could serve a live performance.

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Nike Wagner says she was bitter at being ousted from Bayreuth.

Meeting the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner is an intimidating prospect. We don’t believe family traits are “in the blood” any more, but even so it’s hard to imagine a scion of that domineering “sacred monster” of the 19th century won’t turn out to be formidable. Certainly the 131 years since Wagner’s death have done little to water down the worldly power of the Wagner gene. The Wagners still maintain a stranglehold on Bayreuth, the opera house that Wagner had built at his admirers’ expense, and which has been the centre of the Wagner cult ever since.

As for the relationships within the clan, it’s been a saga of, well, Wagnerian proportions. The different sides of the family have fallen out spectacularly, and battled it out for control of the sacred shrine. Those who have won have had an unfortunate tendency to crush the life out of their rivals and would-be successors, in their bid to hang on to power. Those who lose end up roaming the world, never quite able to put their family connections behind them.

On the face of it, Nike Wagner falls into the latter camp. The third daughter of Wieland Wagner, born a month after the end of the war and raised in the family home of Wahnfried, she seemed well placed to take over the family business. “I remember so well growing up in that house,” she tells me. “My father was in charge of the productions, and worked so hard to bring a radical new style to Bayreuth. We thought we were born on the right side, compared with other Wagners; we were on the side of revolutionary artists, so to speak. This gave me a world-view that has lasted all my life.”
"But I was 21 when my father died, so this dream came to rather a rushed end. His brother, my uncle, Wolfgang, took over, and pretty soon I and my siblings realised we were no longer welcome.”
Did she hope that one day she would become part of all this? “Of course it was a childhood dream to be a singer or dancer… or at least an assistant director. But I was 21 when my father died, so this dream came to rather a rushed end. His brother, my uncle, Wolfgang, took over, and pretty soon I and my siblings realised we were no longer welcome.”

Is she bitter? “I was, but not now,” she says, and then adds, “it was not so hard for us children, but it was very hard for my mother. She was very bitter, and she passed her bitterness on to us.” Surely she nurtured dreams of returning at some stage? “Uh-huh,” she says with studied coolness. She picked up her Americanisms during the years she spent in the US as a student of cultural history. Even so it’s odd to hear it in the mouth of a Wagner, and it emphasises her distance from what one thinks of as the Wagner manner. With her slender, elegant figure and quietly spoken diplomatic ways, she reminds me much more of Christine Lagarde than the fiery composer who manned the barricades in Dresden in 1848. Only in profile does one get a reminder of that Wagner nose.
"We knew behind the scenes Wolfgang was working to make sure his line of the family would take the reins of the festival. It was a done deal, but we had to try.”
Unlike her great grandfather, who was always impatient, Nike Wagner bided her time. “I made my own way as an author and critic, and at the beginning of the Nineties I felt I was ready to take another look at Bayreuth.” That’s putting it mildly. In 2001, she published a book which took exquisite revenge on the family that had rejected her, portraying it as dysfunctional in ways that parallel the dysfunctional families in Wagner’s operas. At around the same time she made a bid for the directorship of Bayreuth, in league with Gérard Mortier, the man who had caused radical changes at the Salzburg Festival.

Their plan seems reasonable enough, but in the context of Bayreuth it was a revolution. “We wanted to raise the standards of singing and conducting, bring in new directors, and also perform the youthful works of Wagner we never see there. Also we felt it was time to break the hold of tradition, which says you can only have Wagner morning, noon and night, by bringing in other works with a connection to Wagner. Our overriding principle was to connect Wagner with the modern world.”

Nike never expected to win this battle. “We knew behind the scenes Wolfgang was working to make sure his line of the family would take the reins of the festival. It was a done deal, but we had to try.” In the event the daughters of Wolfgang were appointed, one older and experienced, the other young and glamorous. Has the partnership worked? Nike Wagner won’t be drawn on that. “My rule since then is never to comment, because if you are the loser it just looks like resentment.” Instead she’s thrown herself into other things. From 2004 to 2013, she directed a festival devoted to her great-great-grandfather Franz Liszt (Liszt was the father of Wagner’s second wife Cosima, who was Nike’s great-grandmother). Now she’s just been appointed director of the Beethovenfest in Bonn.

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