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Where To Listen To This Years Bayreuth Festival Online: 2018

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 21 July 2018 | 11:01:00 pm


It's nearly that time; festival "madness" from Bayreuth. If you are unsure where or when to listen, to the individual, productions we have done our best to provide you with the times and links below. This year, it appears that BR Klassik and Bartok will, apart from Lohengrin, be broadcasting on different days, with BR Klassik broadcasting the recorded live broadcast after Bartok - in many cases. So, for example, both will broadcast the premiere of Lohengrin on the 25th July, BR's next broadcast will be the 30th July while Bartok's next broadcast will be Parsifal on the 26th July. With that in mind, we have listed both stations and provided links. We hope this is not too confusing. As always, we suggest you click the link in advance and make sure it works for you. A pop-up should appear and whatever is streaming at the time you click should be audible. If you have any difficulties, please get in touch via mail or Twitter and we will do our best to help. On a similar note if you spot an error here, please do let us know.

Times noted are in CEST, Dates are in European, not, American format. Please adjust to your local time if needed. Click the performance to launch the player
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Piotr Beczala Rides In On A Swan To Rescue A Distressed Bayreuth

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 6 July 2018 | 4:01:00 pm


It was less than a week ago when Roberto Alagna's manager informed the Bayreuth festival that the tenor would not be able to perform as Lohengrin in the new Bayreuth production of said opera later this month. According to reports, Alagna's manager informed the Wagner's that he simply had not been "... able to sufficiently study the part due to work overload (sic).”

This, of course, would have lead to something of a panic, for Bayreuth and Yuval Sharon's new productions of Lohengrin. Thankfully, a much better prepared Lohengrin has been found at short notice, in the form of the very fine Piotr Beczala. Beczala made his role debut as Lohengrin in 2016 at Dresden, see video below. Besczala is having something of a good year having only this year being announced as the recipient of the  International Opera Awards "Best Male Singer" award.  The Bayreuth production will see him once again, reunited with conductor Christian Thielemann.
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Bayreuth To Digitize Richard Wagner Archive And Make Available To All

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 24 June 2018 | 2:06:00 pm



Historically, gaining access to the Richard Wagner Archive has been a somewhat difficult process for the none academic. Indeed, as it necessitated a visit to the Richard Wagner Museum in Bayreuth, it could prove difficult for many academics internationally. An application needs to be made, forms need to be completed and proof of professional research needed to be provided, However, thanks to a program of digitizing the entire archive, including letters between Wagner and Cosima, his notebooks, clean copies of his scores, and photos, this should soon become an easier process. The entire archive will be placed online and made available to anyone that wishes to search it.

The process has only recently begun and as yet, no final date has been provided.


For more information please visit The Richard Wagner Museum online.



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The Ring, Or Wagner as Scam Artist

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 17 June 2018 | 7:24:00 pm

The world of Wagner criticism is a strange place. At the periphery of the media, and the internet, it's an even stranger place. Indeed a dangerous place, in some respects, for the unprepared traveler. But that's partly what we are here for. We dive into the places many a saner Wagnerian would not dare or, indeed, would not even know to exist. As the present "leader of the free world" might say, "Your welcome"

The following is, ostensibly, a review of San Francisco Opera's Rheingold. But don't let that stop our intrepid reviewer, James Roy MacBean, having read a bit of basic Wagner criticism (one senses pre "The Laughing Wagner: his Wit, Puns, Pranks & Dare-Devil Stunts", Joachim Köhler is at the forefront of Mr. 
Macbean's reading) from critiquing the entire Ring in his own idiosyncratic manner.

The Ring, Or Wagner as Scam Artist

James Roy MacBean

Saturday June 16, 2018 - 09:52:00 AM

Ernest Newman famously wrote of Wagner that “The ‘problems’ of his operas are generally problems of his own personality and circumstances. His art, like his life, is all unconscious egoism.” Discussing both Verdi and Wagner, Peter Conrad wrote that “For Verdi there is no god, so music must fill up the absence; for Wagner there is no god, so he must personally assume the role.” Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, currently mounted by San Francisco Opera in all its 17-hour glory mixed with tedium, (or is it tedium mixed with occasional glory?), is Richard Wagner’s arrogant attempt to rewrite the history of the world and cast it in his own image. Opening night of the first Ring cycle was Tuesday, June 12, for Das Rheingold. Two more complete Ring cycles will continue through July 1.


The Ring begins with an act of greed, a grasping for wealth and power as a substitute for lack of sex. In Das Rheingold, the Nibelung Alberich, a mean-spirited, misshapen individual, fails to entice the frolicsome Rhinemaidens to have sex with him, but he learns from the Rhinemaidens that only by renouncing love might someone have a chance to win the submerged gold in the river. So Alberich renounces love and brazenly steals the gold. His stolen wealth gives him power over all the other Nibelungs, whom he makes his slaves. Whipping them to work ever harder for his own personal aggrandizement, Alberich becomes the ultimate robber baron, the arch capitalist who enslaves his workers. His appetite for wealth and power is insatiable. Though he has renounced love, he has not renounced lust. He plans first to subjugate all men, then to force himself on their women who have shunned him in the past, making them slaves to his sexual desires.


Thus Wagner begins what is a long, tortuous tale about his own gripes with modern society. Where greed rules and money is the measure of all things, what role is left for art, for the art of music? Where Wagner’s gripes are concerned, they are legion. But among his many gripes, the Jews hold a special place. In his anti-Semitic screed “Das Judenthum in der Musik/Judaism in Music,” Wagner writes, “According to the present constitution of this world, the Jew in truth is already more than emancipated: he rules, and will rule, so long as money remains the power before which we and all our doings and dealings lose their force.”


It has been noted that in the Ring cycle, two characters have a peculiarly distinctive style of musical speech: these are the brothers Alberich and Mime. They and they alone, in recitative after recitative, sing in hissing, squealingl (sic) voices. Wagner, as we know from his essay on “Judaism in Music,” found the Jews’ way of speaking extremely repugnant. “Who has not been seized,” he writes, “with a feeling of the greatest revulsion, of horror mixed with the absurd, at hearing that sense-and-sound confounding gurgle, yodel, and cackle….?” Many commentators on Wagner’s Ring have speculatively identified Alberich and Mime as Jews. Alberich, as we have seen, sets the plot of the Ring in motion with a criminal act of greed when he steals the gold from the Rhinemaidens when they won’t have sex with him. Now possessing this wealth and power, Alberich enslaves his fellow Nibelungs. Even Mime, his brother, is physically and mentally abused by Alberich. Forced to work at his forge for Alberich’s accumulation of ever more wealth, Mime whines incessantly in his hissing, squealing caricature of a voice. We’ll hear far too much of that whining voice in the five and-a-half hours of Siegfried, the third of Wagner’s tetralogy.


Where the current San Francisco Opera production of the Ring is concerned, director Francesca Zambello has updated her original 2011 staging, introducing more projections of water and nature imagery. Seeing the Ring as apocalyptic, Zambello notes that “we tried to incorporate more nature so that as the universe is destroyed, we see the annihilation of the natural world in sharper contrast.” So, yes, there is assuredly a dynamic of nature versus culture in the Ring. Wagner, as usual, sees things in terms of good versus evil. Nature is good; Culture, especially this money-grubbing culture, is evil. Zambello also seems to understand that the notion of a “twilight of the Gods” might not be about gods per se, but rather about the human gods of industry and commerce who rule our current world.  

Continue Reading at  Berkeley Daily Planet
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New Issue Of The Wagner Journal Available

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 30 April 2018 | 11:55:00 pm

 
‘Kindred Spirits of Meiningen and Bayreuth‘ by Edward A. Bortnichak and Paula M. Bortnichak

• ‘Turning the Telescope Round‘ [article about Ernest Newman] by David Cormack

• ‘Wagner and the Boryspil Pogrom: A Reply to Barry Emslie‘ by Derek Hughes

•‘ “Music Made Visible“: Sergei Eisenstein's Die Walküre and the Birth of Vertical Montage‘ by Hilan Warshaw

• ‘Deluded Neurotic or Visionary Woman of the Future?: Senta Revalued‘ by Kate Hopkins

plus reviews of:
Achim Freyer‘s Parsifal in Hamburg and Tobias Kratzer‘s Götterdämmerung in Karlsruhe

DVD of Christian Thielemann‘s homage to Herbert von Karajan's 1967 Salzburg Ring

CDs of the Naxos Siegfried under Jaap van Zweden, Mark Elder‘s Parsifal with the Hallé, and Wagner concert overtures under Jun Märkl

More at: The Wagner Journal
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RIP: Professor Stephen Hawking: Physicist & Wagnerian

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 15 March 2018 | 5:48:00 am


In one of his final interviews, Professor Hawking was asked how he would like to spend his last days, he replied:

Oh my last day, it would be being with my family and listening to Wagner,’ Hawking told him. ‘While sipping champagne in the summer sun.’

You can hear this part of the interview here. Ignore Morgan's comments about who Wagner is - one should expect no less in this days, sadly



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Watch Now: Die Walküre” (Act I). NYP. Jaap van Zweden. Jan 15

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 18 February 2018 | 1:56:00 am


Some of us here believe that van Zweden may become the best Wagner conductor of this generation. Although, it is very hard to beat Barenboim. The following was recorded in New York, 15 February 2018. This recording also includes John Luther Adams’s “Dark Waves"

Jaap van Zweden, conductor 
Heidi Melton, soprano 
Simon O’Neill, tenor
 John Relyea, bass


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A Very Special Offer For Readers Of The Wagnerian: Wagner Books

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 16 February 2018 | 1:54:00 pm

Apologies for the title; sadly could not think of a better way of putting it.

You might recall a few weeks ago we noted two Wagner related books that we felt might be of interest. These were: Ernest Newman A Critical Biography By Paul Watt and Granville Bantock Letters to William Wallace and Ernest Newman.  You might also recall, that we noted, while well worth your attention, they were rather expensive. Well, the publisher, Boydell & Brewer has kindly got in touch and offers readers of the Wagnerian a very generous 35 percent discount on either one or both books.  Should you have been discouraged by the Amazon, etc, prices before, hopefully this might help.Full details below.

Although the prices and discounts are quoted in sterling I have been assured that they will apply internationally. Any difficulties, please contact the publisher using the contact details below.

And to reassure long-term readers: this is neither some form of an advert and we, here, are not being paid or, will we make any form of profit.

Offer finishes on the 30 April 2018. Details and discount code to be used below.

Offer to the readers of The Wagnerian

Boydell & Brewer, the book publisher, is pleased to offer readers of The Wagnerian a 35% discount of two of their recent books. The first, Ernest Newman, A Critical Biography by Paul Watt, examines works of Wagner's most detailed biographer in their historical context. The 35% discount would make the price £29.25, instead of £45.00 RRP. You can view the full details by clicking here:



The second book, Granville Bantock Letters to William Wallace and Ernest Newman edited by Michael Allis, provides a fascinating window into British music and musical life in the early twentieth century and the 'dawn' of musical modernism. The 35% discount would make the price £48.75, instead of £75.00 RRP. You can read more about the book by clicking here:


To redeem the discount simply quote the code BB542 when prompted at the checkout at www.boydellandbrewer.com or via telephone when calling 01243 843291 or emailing customer@wiley.com. Offer ends 30 April 2018.

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Quote Of The Month: Charlie Chaplin Upon Hearing Tannhauser For The First Time

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 5 January 2018 | 8:37:00 pm


Taken from Christopher Lawrence's book, "Swooning: A Classical Music Guide to Life, Love, Lust and Other Follies"

"In Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography there is a story of an early dramatic encounter with classical music.

In 1913, while still an unknown stage comedian touring the United States with an English vaudeville troupe, the 24-year-old took a few days off from the grind of provincial shows to make a solo trip to New York. This oasis of comparative luxury included a good hotel, half a bottle of champagne and a first time visit to the opera, Wagner’s Tannhäuser (1845) at the Metropolitan. Chaplin knew neither German nor anything about the opera’s plot, yet when the Pilgrim’s Chorus began in Act Three, the future Little Tramp found himself weeping uncontrollably. ‘What people sitting next to me must have thought I don’t know,’ he wrote. ‘The music seemed to sum up all the travail of my life.’

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An Invitation To Parsifal. Bayreuth. August 15. 1892

Researching something else, we came across this full page ad for Parsifal in 1892. Thought we would share. A sort of Wagner Tardis. You will need to click on to be able to read it.



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Wagner, Williams, Star Wars and Alex Ross: The perfect combination?

One of our often featured Wagnerian commentators, Alex Ross, discusses the use of "wagnerian" leitmotifs, in John Williams's scores for the Star Wars films.  Highly interesting. It's published over at the New Yorker, but don't let that put you off.

By the way, and before continuing, when Mr Ross notes, "Wagner had spoken of “melodic moments” and “ground-motifs” in his work, but he criticized his acolyte for treating such motifs purely as dramatic devices, neglecting their internal musical logic." he is referring to Wagner's essay, "Uber Die Anwendung Der Musik Auf Das Drama (On The Application Of Music To Drama). In this Wagner wrote, "...one of my younger friends has devoted much attention, to the characteristics of what he calls, the Leitmotives. However, he has treated them from the point of view of dramatic importance and effect rather than as elements of the musical structure". Should you want, you can read this essay in full (in Ellis's idiosyncratic translation) by clicking here


The film-music scholar Frank Lehman, an assistant professor at Tufts University, works fast: within a day of the opening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” he had updated his “Complete Catalogue of the Motivic Material in ‘Star Wars,’ Episodes I-VIII,” which can be found online. The catalogue now includes fifty-five distinct leitmotifs—thematic ideas that point toward characters, objects, ideas, and relationships—and forty-three so-called incidental motifs, which, Lehman says, “do not meet criteria for proper leitmotifs” but nonetheless possess dramatic significance. Such beloved tunes as “The Force,” “Han and Leia,” and the dastardly “Imperial March” are here, along with more esoteric items like “Planetary Descent Figure,” “Ominous Neighbor Figure,” and “Apocalyptic Repeated Minor Triads.”

All this refers, of course, to the eight scores that John Williams has composed for the “Star Wars” cycle, with a ninth in the works. In decades past, it was fashionable for self-styled serious music types to look down on Williams, but the “Star Wars” corpus has increasingly attracted scholarly scrutiny: Lehman’s catalogue will be published in “John Williams: Music for Films, Television, and the Concert Stage,” a volume forthcoming from the Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini. This attention has come about not only because of the mythic weight that George Lucas’s space operas have acquired in the contemporary imagination; the music is also superbly crafted and rewards close analysis. Williams’s latest score is one the most compelling in his forty-year “Star Wars” career: Rian Johnson’s film complicates and enriches the familiar template, and Williams responds with intricate, ambiguous variations on his canon of themes.

The word “leitmotif,” like much else emanating from the gaseous Planet Wagner, has caused considerable confusion over the years. The term was coined by Hans von Wolzogen, one of a coterie of intellectual sycophants who surrounded the composer in the years before his death, in 1883. Wagner had spoken of “melodic moments” and “ground-motifs” in his work, but he criticized his acolyte for treating such motifs purely as dramatic devices, neglecting their internal musical logic. As happened so often, Wagner’s idea took on a life of its own. Wolzogen lived long enough to hail Hitler in the pages of the Bayreuther Blätter, the dismal Wagner fanzine that he edited for decades.

Continue Reading At The New Yorker

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New Wagner Related Book: Granville Bantock Letters to William Wallace and Ernest Newman

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 1 January 2018 | 9:37:00 pm

Fascinating, if horrendously expensive, book edited by Michael Allis. Details from the publisher, below 

Granville Bantock's letters to the Scottish composer William Wallace and the music critic Ernest Newman provide a fascinating window into British music and musical life in the early twentieth century and the 'dawn' of musical modernism.

British music and musical life before the Great War have been relatively neglected in discussions of the idea of the 'modern' in the early twentieth century. This collection of almost three hundred letters, written by Granville Bantock (1868-1946) to the Scottish composer William Wallace (1860-1940) and the music critic Ernest Newman (1868-1959) places Bantock and his circle at the heart of this debate. The letters highlight Bantock's and Wallace's development of the modern British symphonic poem, their contribution (with Newman) to music criticism and journalism, and their attempts to promote a young generation of British composers - revealing an early frustration with the musical establishment.

Confirming the impact of visits to Britain by Richard Strauss and Sibelius, Bantock offers opinions on a range of composers active around the turn of the twentieth century, identifying Elgar and Delius as the future for English music. Along with references to conductors, entertainers and contemporary writers (Maeterlinck, Conrad), there are fascinating details of the musical culture of London, Liverpool and Birmingham - including programming strategies at the Tower, New Brighton, and abortive plans to relaunch the New Quarterly Musical Review. Fully annotated, the letters provide a fascinating window into British music and musical life in the early twentieth century and the 'dawn' of musical modernism

DETAILS
8 black and white, 17 line illustrations
310 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781783272334, December 2017
eBook, 9781787441569, December 2017
BIC BJ, 1DBK, 2AB, 3JJ
BISAC MUS006000


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Wiener Staatsoper To Stream Full Ring Cycle April 2018. Full Details

As part of Wiener Staatsoper's live streaming program, they will be streaming Sven-Eric Bechtolf's production of  Der Ring des Nibelungen, in April 2018. "Tickets" for individual parts of the cycle can be bought for 14 Euros or $16.79. However, as they will be all broadcast in the same month - and should you want to watch the entire cycle - then a monthly subscription, which you can cancel at any time, might be your best option: 16 euros per month or $20. 

Full details below. We include some production pictures and videos to help you decide if Sven-Eric Bechtolf's interpretation of the Ring "is for you". 

Full pricing and to book tickets - closer to the time - please click here
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