29 May 2008

Attending the Bayreuth Festival 2008



My program in Bayreuth this summer will include Norwegian Stefan Herheim's new production of Parsifal, Katharina Wagner's production of Meistersinger and the Tankred Dorst Ring. Unfortunately no Tristan. It would have been great to hear Swedish Irene Theorin as Isolde...

Expectations are high for Herheim's Parsifal, of course, Herheim being the first Norwegian to direct in Bayreuth. I must confess, however, that I am more a Tristan, Ring and Meistersinger guy. I find it harder to relate to the story in Parsifal. Maybe Herheim will change this?

I am also really looking forward to Katharina Wagner's Meistersinger. Judging from reviews, I think this is a production that I will like. At last we get a Meistersinger that is playful and with a youthful expression in Bayreuth! I am also sure Klaus Florian Vogt's Walther will be a treat. The picture above is taken from this production (Act 3, scene 5).

Tankred Dorst's Ring makes me curious. Is it just beautiful and nothing more? Is it possible that he has no concept and that the stage instructions are dull and unimaginative? Anyhow, I am looking forward to hearing Christian Thielemann's interpretation. I am sure this will be a memorable week, as it was in 1990 and 1997.

Updated:
Stefan Herheim's Parsifal in Bayreuth
Interview with Penelope Turing, author of "New Bayreuth"
Interview with Iréne Theorin (in Norwegian, on Wagneropera.no)

19 May 2008

Decca releases Giant Box set with all Wagner operas

Decca will be releasing a Giant Box set with all Wagner operas recorded at the Bayreuth Festival at an unbelievable bargain price on 17 June (33 CDs - $62.99). The box include all the operas that are being played at the Bayreuth Festival, that is:

Das Rheingold
Die Walküre
Siegfried
Götterdämmerung
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Tristan und Isolde
Parsifal
Der fliegende Holländer
Tannhäuser
Lohengrin

Most of these recording will be second or fifth choice for Wagnerians collecting recordings. I get a kinda "let's take what we have"-feeling watching the production list. What do you think?

The Giant Wagner Box with all Operas for $62.99

TRACKLISTING

CDs 1& 2
Der fliegende Holländer
Anja Silja / Fritz Uhl / Josef Greindl / Franz Crass
Wolfgang Sawallisch

CDs 3-5
Tannhäuser
Silja / Wolfgang Windgassen / Eberhard Wächter /
Josef Greindl
Wolfgang Sawallisch

CDs 6-8
Lohengrin
Anja Silja / Astrid Varnay / Jess Thomas / Ramon Vinay
Wolfgang Sawallisch

CDs 9-11
Tristan und Isolde
Birgit Nilsson / Wolfgang Windgassen
Karl Böhm
This classic Tristan is also sold separately

CDs 12-15
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Hannelore Bode / Jean Cox / Bernd Weikl / Karl Ridderbusch / Hans Sotin
Silvio Varviso
This recording has also been available separately (difficult to find now)

Der Ring des Nibelungen
CDs 16 & 17
Das Rheingold
Annelies Burmeister / Wolfgang Windgassen / Theo Adam /
Gustav Neidlinger
Karl Böhm

CDs 18-21
Die Walküre
Birgit Nilsson / Leonie Rysanek / James King / Theo Adam
Karl Böhm

CDs 22-25
Siegfried
Birgit Nilsson / Wolfgang Windgassen / Theo Adam
Karl Böhm

CDs 26-29
Götterdämmerung
Birgit Nilsson / Wolfgang Windgassen / Josef Greindl /
Gustav Neidlinger
Karl Böhm

CDs 30-33
Parsifal
Waltraud Meier / Peter Hofmann / Hans Sotin / Simon Estes
James Levine

The Giant Wagner Box with all Operas for $62.99

16 May 2008

Parsifal bargain

I see that Play.com is selling Parsifal with Christian Thielemann conducting and Plácido Domingo as Parsifal and Waltraud Meier as Kundry for £15.99, which is practically for free. Recommended!

More on Thielemann's Parsifal

04 May 2008

Tristan und Isolde at Glyndebourne on DVD


Although this DVD has an Isolde who looks and acts more like a serial killer than a woman someone would fall in love with, and has basically the same set for three acts, very cold, static and unemotional acting by the protagonists, this is a must DVD for Wagnerians with a budget to buy their third DVD of Tristan und Isolde.

For the first two, my choice is Peter Konwitschny's production from Munich (for those who like a more modern approach) and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's Bayreuth production from 1983. And if you can wait until June, you will have another Tristan on DVD to choose from: Heiner Müller's Bayreuth production with Waltraud Meier and Siegfried Jerusalem.

Read more about director Nikolaus Lehnhoff's production of Tristan und Isolde at the Glyndebourne Festival

Tristan und Isolde on DVD

Knut Skram CD with concert highlights

The celebrated Norwegian baritone Knut Skram is out with a CD with highlights from his long career. Although Skram did some first rate performances as Amfortas, Der Wanderer, Holländer and Kurwenal, the only Wagner track on this CD is "O, du mein holder Abendstern from Tannhäuser.

Most of us associate Skram with opera, mainly Mozart, Verdi and Wagner, but in the included Schumann's Dichterliebe Skram shows that he also mastered the more intimate format.

Knut Skram has a fantastic presence on stage and an extraordinary charisma. Another charismatic singer, Danish soprano Inga Nielsen, who recently passed away, sings a duet with Skram on the CD (Madamigella Valery from La Traviata).

You can buy the CD or download all or single MP3 tracks here

01 May 2008

Filmed version of Flying Dutchman from 1974 out on DVD


This Flying Dutchman is for kids and collectors. For most of us this filmed version is of historical interest. It is actually interesting to see singers like Catarina Ligendza and Donald McIntyre anno 1974, but the production is very dated. It may give first-timers and kids a great experience, though.

One of my favourite Wotans, Donald McIntyre, is disappointing as the Dutchman, but Catarina Ligendza is a treat as Senta, if not because of her "acting".

Conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch was the only one involved who impressed me. His brisk tempi and wonderful focus on details occasionally made me forget the poor acting.

More on on this filmed Dutchman on Wagneropera.net