10 June 2015

150th anniversary of the première of Tristan und Isolde

This 10 June, 2015, we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the première of Tristan und Isolde (Munich, 10 June 1865).  According to the French-born American historian and philosopher, Jacques Barzun, the year 1859 was a pivotal year. In 1941, Professor Barzun wrote a seminal work, Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage. The recently deceased Columbia University professor said that in 1859, three major revolutionary works were finalized: The Origin of the Species, by Charles Darwin, the Critique of Political Economy, by Karl Marx, and Tristan und Isolde, by Richard Wagner. Since then, biology, social sciences and music have acquired new meanings and dimensions and we are still living with the results of such major revolutions.

For many Wagnerians, Tristan represents the supreme peak of the master’s musical inspiration (equaled, perhaps, but never surpassed by his later works); its music and words are a sublime praise of love, a love that is so powerful that it has the capacity to transform everything, including death itself. Because of its stifling, erotic and intoxicating character, this opera has been the Mount Everest of singers and conductors, being simultaneously monumental and uncomfortably intimate. Wagner himself told us that it is about “dying without death, and therefore everlasting falling back upon itself”; longing (“Sehnen”, the key concept in Tristan) keeps Tristan alive, while he is dying for Isolde. “If well performed, it will render the listener insane”, admonished Wagner. 

Germán Bravo-Casas

02 March 2015

March 2015 issue of The Wagner Journal

The March 2015 issue (vol.9, no.1) of The Wagner Journal, which contains the following articles:
 
• 'Where's the Drama?': Personal Reflections on the Intersection of Music and Theatre in Wagner Performance by David Breckbill
• Knappe oder Ritter? A study of Gurnemanz by Peter Quantrill
• Wagner and Science: Twilight of the Gods Across the Multiverse by Mark B. Chadwick
• The Rosebush Pictures of Wagner's Daughter Isolde by Dagny R. Beidler

plus reviews of:
  • Tristan und Isolde at Covent Garden
  • Lohengrin in Zurich and Amsterdam
  • Das Rheingold in British Columbia
  • Parsifal in Tokyo
Also:
  • CD recordings of a complete Wagner cycle conducted by Marek Janowski and the 1961 Bayreuth Tannhäuser conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, starring Wolfgang Windgassen, Victoria de los Angeles, Grace Bumbry and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
  • Hilan Warshaw's film Wagner's Jews on DVD
  • new books on Wagner and film by David Huckvale and Kevin C. Karnes, Wagner's Visions by Katherine R. Syer, The Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia, ed. Nicholas Vazsonyi, a new translation of Wagner's essay Beethoven by Roger Allen, and Chris Walton's Lies and Epiphanies: Composers and Their Inspiration from Wagner to Berg, reviewed by David Matthews

Individual copies of, and annual subscriptions to, The Wagner Journal are available in both printed and electronic form. Individual articles and reviews are also available in electronic form. Full details on www.thewagnerjournal.co.uk

26 January 2015

Tristan at Longborough 2015

Following the success of their 2014 Ring Cycle, Longborough Festival Opera has clearly positioned itself on the international operatic stage as a Wagner production house of great merit. Additionally, the 2014 summer season was virtually a sell-out.

2015 opens with a new production of Tristan und Isolde, in the hands of Music Director Anthony Negus, directed by Carmen Jakobi. The double cast features Rachel Nicholls and Lee Bisset sharing the role of Isolde, while Peter Wedd and Neal Cooper take on Tristan.

Longborough Festival Opera

12 January 2015

Kokkola Winter Accordion Festival: Wagner performed with accordion and baritone

XVII Kokkola Winter Accordion Festival
Tue 17.2 In the Master’s Company

An Evening with the Music of Richard Wagner
Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory 19.00
Pitkänsillankatu 16

Esa Ruuttunen baritone
Janne Valkeajoki accordion
Roman Schatz text
For the first time in the music world, the German master composer’s music will be performed with accordion and baritone. World-class baritone and young musician Esa Ruuttunen will fill the hall with a captivating musical performance. Starring the author Roman Schatz.
Ruuttunen is one of the best Finnish baritones and has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Finnish National Opera, Savonlinna, Bavaria, Stuttgart, London, Vienna and Berlin. In this concert Ruuttunen will treat audiences to Wagner’s most famous arias, including The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and others. The performance also will feature Franz Liszt arrangements for solo accordion, among them “Senta’s Ballad” and “Elsa’s Dream.” Richard Wagner’s dramatic and strong-yet-delicate tonal language will emerge in full strength in a performance that will also include the music of Bach.
The author Roman Schatz also will present a talk on Wagner’s life, music and incredibly tangled human relationships.
Tickets 15 €/10 €
info: www.talviharmonikka.com

13 November 2014

Does Wagner mess with our minds?

HEARING WAGNER: Does Wagner mess with our minds?
with Sir Colin Blakemore

Saturday 22 November 10:30-17:00

Birmingham Hippodrome, Patrick Centre Theatre


The emotional impact of music is undeniable, and this is nowhere more
obvious than in Romantic music such as the operas of Richard
Wagner. But can the effects of music be measured? Is this even
desirable? The Hearing Wagner event taking place at the Birmingham
Hippodrome on Saturday 22 November aims to air these and other
questions and show how psychologists and musicologists are working
together to understand better what is going on in these extraordinary
works.


Researchers from Goldsmiths University of London and the University of
Oxford in the AHRC's Transforming Musicology project have been finding
out how a live audience responds to the sensations produced over the
four operas of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Last week,
the Mariinsky Opera from St Petersburg, under their charismatic
conductor, Valery Gergiev, performed Wagner's epic Ring Cycle at the
Birmingham Hippodrome. In the audience was a group of student
volunteers whom we'd fitted with unobtrusive yet sensitive devices
which monitored their responses to the music using a measure called
galvanic skin response (GSR) as well as changes in their heart-rate
(HR).


We'll be presenting some preliminary results from this intriguing
experiment at the Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 22 November as
part of the national 'Being Human' Festival. This event, hosted by the
eminent neuroscientist and Wagner fan, Sir Colin Blakemore, will
include non-technical introductions to the ways in which Wagner used
novel compositional techniques to manipulate the emotions of his
listeners, and to what we have to do to interpret the bio-physical
data from our audience members as emotional response to Wagner's
music. Members of the public will be able to try out some of the
state-of-the-art technology for themselves, and to discuss the
experiment with the research team. Alongside Sir Colin Blakemore and
the Transforming Musicology project team, the Wagner expert and editor
of English National Opera's series of Opera Guides, Gary Kahn, will
also be on hand to remind us of Wagner's dramatic career and his
continual struggle to communicate as directly as possible with his
audience.


To attend this free event at the Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 22
November 2014, book via EventBrite

12 November 2014

David Nice gives ten lectures on Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Paddington’s Frontline Club

David Nice gives ten lectures on Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Paddington’s Frontline Club 12 January – 16 March 2015, Mondays 2.30-4.30pm

David is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster on music with a special interest in Russian and late romantic composers. His last Building a Library for BBC Radio 3’s CD Review was on Parsifal. He has now explored all the major Wagner operas over 25 years of opera appreciation classes at the City Literary Institute and launched his new Opera in Depth series at the wonderful Frontline Club this term with Prokofiev’s War and Peace.

He last took students through Meistersinger five years ago at the time of Richard Jones’s revelatory new production for Welsh National Opera with Bryn Terfel making his role debut as Sachs. Now, with fast-rising Wagnerian bass-baritone Iain Paterson as the lynchpin, Jones’s production moves to English National Opera, with some rethinks promised. Richard twice visited David’s Opera in Focus classes, discussing Meistersinger and Britten’s Gloriana, and he has promised to pay another visit this time. Come and enjoy total immersion in an inexhaustibly rich and beautiful opera.

Fully illustrated with sound clips and DVD production scenes on the Frontline’s big screen. The Club has excellent facilities: you are invited to enjoy efreshments in the main room on the first floor for half an hour before and after the classes, and the restaurant is warmly recommended. There are, however, two flights of stairs to negotiate.

Venue: Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, W2 1QJ

Nearest tubes: Paddington, Edgware Road, Lancaster Gate

Fees: £180 per each term of ten two-hour classes

Email: david.nice@usa.net ASAP to confirm a place on this highly popular course

07 November 2014

7 November 1881: Wagner visits Monreale



R. had a restless night, since he had taken medicine, but he is looking well. He arranges his worktable in the salon, and the situation pleases him. In the afternoon we drive to Monreale. [Added on the next page, under Tuesday: "Yesterday, on the journey to Monreale, R. notices a small and very independent poodle, a favourite breed of his, and in the evening he is still thinking of the little creature, having been struck by its intelligence."] Sublime impression: "What people they must have been to build such a thing!" R. exclaims. We are enchanted by the cloisters. The valley of oranges is like a fairy tale, and when we return home we feel that nothing less than Shakespeare will do. — We begin H[enry] VI, Act I, the children showing great interest. As he reads, R. looks so wonderfully young that I have to tell him so. And when we are discussing this first act, he says, "He is the greatest of them all." — "What images!" he exclaimed as he reads Exeter's "Like captives bound to a triumphant car."
(Cosima Wagner’s Diaries)

Read more on Wagneropera.net: Wagner in Sicily

The Cathedral (Il Duomo) in Monreale, Palermo. Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wagneropera.net

05 November 2014

5 November 1881: Wagner arrives in Palermo

Hôtel des Palmes - now: Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes, Palermo, Sicily

On 5 November 1881 Richard Wagner and his family arrived at Hôtel des Palmes (now: Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes) in Palermo, Sicily, to finish Parsifal.

Read more on Wagneropera.net: Richard Wagner in  Sicily
or Wondersofsicily.com

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wagneropera.net

26 October 2014

The Wagner Journal: November 2014 issue

The November 2014 issue (vol.8, no.3) of The Wagner Journal, now available, contains the following feature articles:

• 'Kundry’s Baptism, Kundry’s Death' by Christopher Wintle
• 'Timely Timelessness: Regietheater at Bayreuth in the 1970s' by Simon Williams
• 'Wagner Manuscripts at the British Library' by Nicolas Bell



Plus reviews of:
  • the Frank Castorf Ring in Bayreuth
  • Der fliegende Holländer in Copenhagen
  • Tristan und Isolde in Lübeck and Florence
  • a concert performance of Götterdämmerung in Leeds
  • CDs of a solo disc by James Rutherford and of Wagner's edition of Gluck's Iphigenia in Aulis
  • Stefan Herheim's Die Meistersinger, Parsifal directed by Romeo Castellucci and Wolfgang Wagner on DVD, together with Joachim Herz's pioneering Der fliegende Holländer
  • New books on Wagner and Freud by Tom Artin, Wagner and Manet by Therese Dolan, Schultze und Müller's satirical take on the Ring and The Cambridge History of Music Performance, ed. Colin Lawson and Robin Stowell

08 October 2014

MARK BERRY: AFTER WAGNER

MARK BERRY: AFTER WAGNER
Histories of Modernist Music Drama from Parsifal to Nono


A Special Offer: Save 25%
Click here for the publisher's flyer and discount code: http://boybrew.co/9781843839682flyer

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’.

After Wagner will be invaluable to anyone interested in twentieth-century music drama and its intersection with politics and cultural history. It will also appeal to those interested in Richard Wagner’s cultural impact on succeeding generations of composers.

MARK BERRY is Lecturer in Music at Royal Holloway, University of London.

06 October 2014

Washington National Opera announces casting for Ring 2016


Washington National Opera (WNO) today announced complete casting for its first full presentation of Richard Wagner's four-part Ring cycle. Three cycles will be presented from April 30 to May 22, 2016 and will be directed by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and conducted by WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin. Contribution packages with priority seating for The Ring are on sale now. For more information, go to WNO's Ring website.

The complete casting announcement follows the principal casting announcement this spring. WNO's Ring cycles feature two outstanding Brünnhildes. Acclaimed British soprano Catherine Foster, who has stunned audiences at Wagner's hometown festival of Bayreuth in performances of the role, will make her U.S. debut in Cycles I and II. Internationally renowned Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, whose performances as Brünnhilde were highly acclaimed in this production's San Francisco run in 2011, makes her WNO debut in Cycle III. American heldentenor Daniel Brenna, a noted interpreter of Siegfried at opera houses across Europe, takes on the role in the United States for the first time. American bass-baritone Alan Held, an experienced Wagnerian who has appeared in more than 20 WNO productions, returns to his celebrated portrayal of Wotan.

Newly announced casting highlights include the return of American mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop as Fricka and American baritone Gordon Hawkins as Alberich; the WNO debut of American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World winner, as Second Norn and Waltraute; veteran Wagnerians such as American bass Eric Halfvarson as Hagen and Christopher Ventris as Siegmund; rising American stars such as soprano Meagan Miller as Sieglinde, soprano Melody Moore as Freia and Ortlinde, bass-baritone Ryan McKinny as Donner and Gunther, and contralto Lindsay Ammann as Erda, Schwertleite, and First Norn; and the Wagnerian debuts of two Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists, American soprano Jacqueline Echols as Woglinde and the Forest Bird  and American bass Soloman Howard as Fafner.

Contribution packages for The Ring, which include priority seating for performances and access to dress rehearsals, cast parties, and other special events, are on sale now. Regular subscription packages will go on sale in March 2015.

27 July 2014

Bayreuth Festival the next years

2015
Tristan und Isolde
Katharina Wagner (stage director)
Eva-Maria Westbroek (Isolde)
Steven Gould (Tristan)
Christian Thielemann (conductor)


2016
Parsifal
Jonathan Meese (stage director)
Andris Nelsons (conductor)


2017
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Barrie Kosky (stage director)
Philippe Jordan (conductor)
Michael Volle (Hans Sachs)
Johannes Martin Kränzle (Beckmesser)
Klaus Florian Vogt (Stolzing)
Krassimira Stoyanova (Eva)


2018
Lohengrin
Alvis Hermanis (stage director)
Christian Thielemann (conductor)
Anna Netrebko (Elsa)


2019
Tannhäuser
Tobias Kratzer (stage director)


2020
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Christian Thielemann (conductor - probably)