29 July 2008

Anne Evans interviewed by Wagneropera.net

An interview with singer-actor Anne Evans has just been published on Wagneropera.net. Most of you will know Anne Evans from the Barenboim/Kupfer Bayreuth Ring (available on DVD). Anne Evans is now giving master classes and teaching and coaching singers for roles they are about to perform.

In this interview Anne Evans speaks about singing at Bayreuth, how she learned to love Wagner, her teamwork with John Tomlinson and Siegfried Jerusalem, her thoughts on singing Wagner and much more.

Read the interview with Anne Evans here

Other interviews in this series:
Johanna Meier
Graham Clark
Sharon Polyak

Search for the Kupfer Ring on Amazon

28 July 2008

Meistersinger Live Transmission 27 July

Yesterday the Bayreuth Festival transmitted live Katharina Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. For the price of 49 Euros you could watch it at home on your computer. The price should have been approximately 20 Euros.

The picture quality was fine here in Norway, but a bit blurry when watched in full screen. This is to be expected, though.

For a live transmission, the quality of the camera work was acceptable. People expecting top quality missed a Brian Large and some intelligent editing. Usually you see a much better television craftsmanship in live transmissions of football matches.

The cameras on the floor, filming from a frog's perspective produced some really awful shots. These were painful to watch, distorted and with no or little visual information value. I got a feeling that things got a little better in Act 3 – or was it just that I got used to the poor quality?

Michael Volle as Beckmesser in BayreuthThis is not DVD quality. If Bayreuth starts releasing DVD with such poor camera work, the Festival brand will be severely punished. When Herheim's Parsifal will be filmed for DVD release, which it no doubt will, we demand the highest level.

I will return to Katharina's Meistersinger after having seen it in the Festival House in a couple of weeks. I want to add, though, that Michael Volle's Beckmesser was a tour de force, a performance that will be remembered as a Bayreuth classic.

I found Michaela Kaune's debut as Eva very good, intelligent, ironic – and wonderfully sung. But Katharina Wagner should refine the Eva character the next years, in my humble opinion. I was surprised that the public didn't give Kaune a greater ovation.

Michaela Kaune

Katharina Wagner has changed Beckmesser's prize song from the premiere year. The sex doll and explicit, almost brutal sex, is replaced with a performance not very exciting, and it doesn't help to have a nude man and a woman. The ending from the premiere year can be seen in the documentary about Katharina Wagner's Bayreuth debut.

Although it is easy to find lots to criticize in Katharina Wagner's interpretation, I found it intelligent and very brave. She has created something quite new. I find it too premature to release it on DVD (it has already been filmed), because two more years of developing and refining would make it even more enjoyable to watch the next 15 years. More on the interpretation later.

The transmission starts in a YouTube size window. I would recommend that information on how to change to full screen is included under the tiny window. (Right click, choose full screen.)

Franz Hawlata and Michael Volle

What has happened to Sachs (Franz Hawlata)? Beckmesser (Michael Volle) finds it hard to believe Sach's downfall. Sach's appeal "Verachted mir die Meistern nicht" was a disturbing scene and summed up how many non-Germans have felt about this passage, especially after the second world war.

26 July 2008

Bayreuther Festspiele the next years

According to Katharina Wagner (in an interview with festspiele.de) the plans for the Bayreuth Festival look like this:

2010: a new Lohengrin (Stage director: Hans Neuenfels)
2011: a new Tannhäuser (Stage director: Sebastian Baumgarten)
2012: a new Holländer
2013: a new Ring
2014: no new productions
2015: a new Tristan (Stage director: Katharina Wagner, conductor: Christian Thielemann)

I have a strong feeling that Stefan Herheim will be asked to stage the Ring or Tristan .

25 July 2008

Sensational Herheim Parsifal premiere

Judged by the radio broadcast and the volcanic applause for Norwegian director Stefan Herheim and his team, the new Parsifal is a great success. Critics and the public were generally very enthusiastic right after the performance. Gatti got some negative reactions. Otherwise great applause for the singers.

Herheim's Parsifal - premiere today

Today is the big day for Stefan Herheim and his team and their time journey through Germany's history.

Here are some pictures:

Klingsor with white hair and Kundry in red.

Villa Wahnfried.

More on Stefan Herheim

12 July 2008

Das Opernglas with Herheim Interview

Das Opernglas is out with a issue (7/8-2008) loaded with goodies for Wagnerians, and featuring an interview with Herheim talking about his forthcoming Parsifal in Bayreuth. More than any other of Wagner’s works, he says, Parsifal is connected to the Bayreuth Festival and German history. Parsifal is the history of a nation.

Before accepting the offer from Bayreuth, Herheim had turned down an offer from Staatsoper in Berlin to stage Parsifal there. The concept for the Bayreuth production was in a way born then, at least some of the thoughts about it.

The greatest challenge, Herheim says, are the narrative passages when nothing “happens”. And a very important issue is the tempi Bayreuth debutant Daniele Gatti chooses.

One thing seems certain: The auditorium will not be integrated in the production. So at least the conservative Bayreuth audience will have one thing that can ease the pain and anger they most certainly will feel when Herheim presents his unerhörtes Werk.

More interviews in this issue: Erwin Schrott, Maria Guleghina and Saimir Pirgu.

Also in this issue of Das Opernglas you will find reviews of Lohengrin in Saarbrücken, Braunschweig and Nürnberg, Parsifal and Der fliegende Holländer at the Richard Wagner Festival in Wels, Tristan und Isolde in Tallinn, Der fliegende Holländer in Prague, Capriccio in Wien, and Don Carlo in London.

DVDs that being reviewed in this issue: Heiner Müller’s Bayreuth production of Tristan und Isolde, the film version of Der fliegende Holländer from 1974, both released on Deutsche Grammophon.

Das Opernglas

Johanna Meier interview about Isolde in Bayreuth

In a new interview with Wagneropera.net, Isolde star Johanna Meier reveals what really happened at the end of Ponnelle's classic Bayreuth production. Was she singing Liebestod from the brass section of the orchestra pit or wasn't she?

One thing is for sure: Bayreuth historian Frederic Spotts is wrong about what happened!

The DVD of this production, with René Kollo as Tristan, Hanna Schwarz as Brangäne and Matti Salminen as King Marke, is available on DVD.

Read the interview with Johanna Meier


10 July 2008

Decca promoting the Danish Ring

The Copenhagen Ring

Der kleine Hörsaal - children discover music

Der kleine Hörsaal is a series of CDs where artists like Hilary Hahn, Christian Thielemann, Thomas Quasthoff, Katharina Wagner and Albrecht Mayer, and children listen to music and talk about what they hear. This is actually how music should be taught in school, in my humble opinion. The listening becomes an exciting journey, a new discovery. The children reflect on everything from the sound of the violin, how to stage an opera etc., and they ask questions to the artists about this and that from their pont of view. It is all in German, but maybe you know of something similar in English?

The series include the following CDs:
  • DIE GEIGE mit Hilary Hahn
  • DIRIGIEREN mit Christian Thielemann
  • DIE OBOE mit Albrecht Mayer
  • HÄNSEL UND GRETEL mit Katharina Wagner
  • SINGEN mit Thomas Quasthoff

08 July 2008

Looking at the names

If you take a look at the names rolling over the screen on the production of Meistersinger by Wolfgang Wagner on DVD, you will probably recognize a couple. Chances are good that you have seen the name Katharina Wagner before. She was assistant (with Thomas Weiler) to her father Wolfgang Wagner. Another assistant in the production team is Marko Kleiber, son of Carlos Kleiber. Carlos Kleiber had a short but intense career at Bayreuth (he conducted Tristan 1974-76 - some of the performances has been released on LP/CD).

06 July 2008

Christopher Ventris to sing Siegfried in 2012

Christopher Ventris
Christopher Ventris is taking the leap to the tenor's nightmare role of Siegfried at the Bavarian State Opera in 2012, his agent reports. This marks his debut in this role.

Before that he will sing Siegmund in Washington National Opera's Ring, the Ring they call The American Ring, since it is the first Ring cycle created for and produced in the nation’s capital. Das Rheingold premiered in 2006, Die Walküre in 2007. Siegfried premieres in the spring of 2009, and Götterdämmerung will make its debut as part of the full cycle in the fall of 2009.

Ventris will make his role debut as Tannhäuser – in Seattle 2011.

But first we are looking forward to his Bayreuth Festival debut in Stefan Herheim's "time journey" production of Parsifal 25 July.

More on Christopher Ventris

03 July 2008

Waltraud Meier - song recital at the Munich Opera Festival 2009

Waltraud Meier will give a song recital at the Nationaltheater during the Munich Opera Festival 2009, on Monday, 20 July to be more precise. Programme and time will be announced later.

Joseph Breinl will accompany her.

It is possible to order tickets now, but since written orders not will be processed before1 February 2009, you will obviously not receive a confirmation before that time.

Order your tickets here
Waltraud Meier

02 July 2008

Katharina Wagner and her Meistersinger on DVD

Via Mostly Opera I read that United Motion is planning to re-edit the live footage of Katharina Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for release on DVD in November. The filming will be done by eight remote-control cameras.

I am a bit surprised that this production will be released on DVD so soon. After all, this is only the second season it runs. Usually it takes a couple of years for a production to find its form in Bayreuth. It is also strange that the premiere will be used as raw material for this DVD release. The second and third performance will most likely be of a higher artistic quality than the premiere, at least according to some commentators I have spoken with.

Bayreuth Festival
Bayreuth Festival 2008 programme and cast