29 March 2009

Final Schenk Rings at Metropolitan

This spring is your last chance to experience "Otto Schenk's landmark production" of Der Ring des Nibelungen, as the Metropolitan Opera calls it. I have one or two reservations about the "landmark" statement, but if I had been over there, I sure would have liked to see it live. It is of course available on DVD.

Rheingold, Das - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 1:00 PM
Walküre, Die - Saturday, April 11, 2009 - 12:00 PM
Siegfried - Saturday, April 18, 2009 - 12:00 PM
Götterdämmerung - Saturday, April 25, 2009 - 12:00 PM

Rheingold, Das - Monday, April 27, 2009 - 8:00 PM
Walküre, Die - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - 6:30 PM
Siegfried - Thursday, April 30, 2009 - 6:00 PM
Götterdämmerung - Saturday, May 2, 2009 - 6:00 PM

Rheingold, Das - Monday, May 4, 2009 - 8:00 PM
Walküre, Die - Tuesday, May 5, 2009 - 6:00 PM
Siegfried - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - 6:00 PM
Götterdämmerung - Saturday, May 9, 2009 - 6:30 PM

If you want to experience Iréne Theorin, who recently made her Met debut, your first opportunity is Die Walküre 11 April. The cast is great. This could be a wonderful evening:

Conductor: James Levine
Brünnhilde: Iréne Theorin
Sieglinde: Waltraud Meier
Fricka: Yvonne Naef
Siegmund: Johan Botha
Wotan: James Morris
Hunding: John Tomlinson

The cast for Siegfried in the same cycle 18 April:
Conductor: James Levine
Brünnhilde: Iréne Theorin
Erda: Jill Grove
Siegfried: Christian Franz
Mime: Gerhard Siegel
Wanderer: James Morris

27 March 2009

Klaus Florian Vogt to replace Burkhard Fritz as Lohengrin

Klaus Florian Vogt will replace Burkhard Fritz as Lohengrin in Stefan Herheim's new production at Staatsoper Berlin.

This is the second major cast change for this production after René Pape was replaced by Kwanchul Youn.

Unfortunately I have never heard Fritz, so I do not know what is lost by his withdrawal. But I know what we get: a wonderful Lohengrin - with a soft, almost melancholic voice. It is a voice you just want to sink into and let yourself be drowned by, to use a metaphor appropriate for a Wagner lover. I was fortunate to hear Klaus Florian Vogt as Walther in Katharina Wagner's Meistersinger at Bayreuth last summer, and it was certainly one of the highlights of that summer. No need to say that the Bayreuth audience adored him. You will of course know Vogt from the DVD from Baden-Baden as Lohengrin in Nikolaus Lehnhoffs production. I don't mean any disrespect to Burkhard Fritz, but this change makes me very glad indeed.

23 March 2009

Waltraud Meier will not sing Brünnhilde

Waltraud Meier as Isolde in Heiner Muller's Bayreuther Tristan

Waltraud Meier has decided not to include Brünnhilde into her repertoire, according to her agent at Hilbert Artists Management.

She will continue singing Sieglinde, which she will also do in the production at La Scala in autumn 2010.

As first noticed by Mostly Opera, Brünnhilde disappeared from Meier's schedule on her agent's homepage some time ago, and when the cast for the new Cassiers/Barenboim production at La Scala of the Ring was announced, Nina Stemme was cast as Brünnhilde.

With Meier's decision not to sing Brünnhilde, we will probably miss the most moving and beautifully sung Walküre Act 3 and especially the lines "War es so schmählich, was ich verbrach" and "Der diese Liebe mir in's Herz gehaucht" - ever.

Waltraud Meier's Homepage

22 March 2009

Irene Theorin Interview on Wagneropera.net

I have noticed with astonishment that not the whole world speak and read the Scandinavian languages. It is therefore a great pleasure to present an interview with the great Swedish dramatic soprano Iréne Theorin to Wagneropera.net's readers in English, generously translated from Norwegian by Jonathan Scott-Kiddie. The interview has previously been published - in Norwegian - on Wagneropera.no.

Iréne Theorin: Isolde is incredibly intense, and that really suits me (on Wagneropera.net)

20 March 2009

René Pape replaced by Youn in Berlin Lohengrin

Kwangchul Youn replaces René Pape in the upcoming Berlin Lohengrin contrary to the previous announcement that Pape was fit for fight again. Youn has previously worked with the Herheim team singing Gurnemanz in Parsifal at Bayreuth.

According to his press spokesman, Rene Pape has been battling a very bad cold and has been advised by his doctor to cancel singing engagements until he has fully recovered.

18 March 2009

LA Rheingold Review on Wagneropera.net

Los Angeles Opera is mounting a new Ring, produced by Achim Freyer. Dawn Southwick has attended Das Rheingold with mixed feelings.

Read the review on Wagneropera.net:
Kowaljow and Conlon Triumphs in Achim Freyer's Confusing LA Rheingold

17 March 2009

The Wagner Journal - March 2009 issue

The March 2009 issue (vol.3, no.1) of The Wagner Journal includes three papers from the conference 'Wagner in Performance: Theory and Practice' convened by The Wagner Journal in association with St Peter's College, Oxford, last November:

‘Staging Wagner – and its History’, in which Robert Sollich argues for a critical attitude towards Wagner, one in which the reception of his works is regarded as an intrinsic part of the oeuvre. He illustrates his thesis with reference to productions of Die Meistersinger by Peter Konwitschny and Katharina Wagner.

In ‘Wagner and German Regietheater: In Search of New Analytical Approaches’ Clemens Risi also offers a theoretical approach to the staging of Wagner, with examples from Harry Kupfer’s Ring, Peter Konwitschny’s Götterdämmerung and Katharina Wagner’s Die Meistersinger.

‘Ring in the New Century’ by Katherine Syer is a conspectus of recent productions of the cycle in Riga, Munich, Toronto, Weimar, Stockholm, Adelaide and Antwerp. Additional visual and audio-visual material is available online at www.ariettamusic.com/syer/.

‘Bayreuth Masterclass in the Dynamics of Change: An Appreciation of Katharina Wagner’s Production of Die Meistersinger’. A further appraisal of the controversial production from the perspective of behavioural change theory

Reviews of :
  • The Paris production of Tristan und Isolde by Peter Sellars, with video by Bill Viola
  • Thomas S. Grey’s Cambridge Companion to Wagner, John W. Barker’s Wagner and Venice, John Lucas’s Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music and a round-up by Arnold Whittall of recent scholarly literature on Wagner
  • Reginal Goodall’s 1971 Royal Opera Parsifal with Jon Vickers and Karl Böhm’s Bayreuth Meistersinger of 1968
  • DVDs of the Aix Walküre conducted by Simon Rattle and a Tristan in Dessau directed by the son of Walter Felsenstein
Subscription directly at www.thewagnerjournal.co.uk

16 March 2009

Parsifal and Kundry reborned – Kiseljov's Parsifal in Brno

I have received information about a pantomime production of Parsifal in Brno and would like to share it with you:

"Vladimir Kiseljov, the 25 years-old Czech director, stage designer and President of Richard-Wagner-Society Brno, had on 20. April 2008 in the theatre Reduta Brno in Czech republic fulfilled his dream – to show on stage his concept of the whole Richard Wagners Parsifal as a pantomime – initiation mysterium.

The performance was consulted and recommended by Hans Schavernoch and is probably the first realisation of whole Wagners Parsifal as a pantomime on the complete recording of Wagners score played from 6 loudspeakers around audience, which create in some places of this stage mystery an effect of voices from the heaven, slowly moving up above the audience. This staging presented two actors of Parsifal (1. young and 2. reborned "Erlöser" in Act 3) and 3 actresses of Kundry, because we see them in long time distance in the circulation of their incarnations, till they together at the end became an ideal one being of the "Erlöser", which is only Parsifal and Kundry together, after their near-Tantric ritual of reaching the Grail – state of mind. Salvation comes after the fullfilling of lost capability of live and love of at least two beings together, which through their compassion and love, cojuction of the oposit men and women principles brings salvation to the whole world.

The hidden philosophic intentions of Wagners drama are shown on the stage with gestures and situations, which go not only descriptive to saying of characters- many times we see a counterpoint between what they say, and what they realy think and do. We see mixture of Hindu mudras and gnostic-christian gestures in rituals, which would like to reborn the forgotten rituals of old. But with no provocation or vulgarity, only with humility, which comes from a conection of Wagners "Parsifal" and his Hindu-drama "Die Sieger".

Light in this performance breaths close with Wagners music, shows living unity with the dramatic hearth of Wagners Parsifal. The audience can almost touch the actors, no long distance between actors and audience, which can create sense of farness of the action an his theme. More about this perfomance you may find on www.kiseljov.ic.cz under "Parsifal ND Brno".

Next actions of the Richard-Wagner-Society Brno are exhibitions of paintings and performances of Vladimir Kiseljov, which are inspired and acompanied by Wagners, Bruckners and Rimsky-Korsakovs Music and interpretation of those musical works from sight of philosophy, music and visual dramatic art.

Those actions také place in Brno, Praha, Ostrava, Jihlava (as a part of international music festival Mahler Jihlava 2009) and other cities of Czech republic. One of the actions is a performance, when Vladimir Kiseljov live in front of an audience with music relizes his wall-paintings of Wagners Parsifal – on 22. 6. 2009 in „Galery of Critics“- Adria Palace in the centre of Praha. Other actions of Wagners Society of Brno you will find on www.wagnerbrno.cz.

14 March 2009

Nila Parly recommends Wagner DVDs

Wagneropera.net asked some Wagnerians to recommend five Wagner CDs or DVDs. This is Danish Wagner scholar Nila Parly's recommendations.
  1. Der fliegende Holländer (DVD)
    Bayreuther festspiele 1985. Director: Harry Kupfer. Conductor: Woldemar Nelsson
  2. The Copenhagen Ring (DVD)
    Royal Danish Opera 2006. Director: Kasper Bech Holten. Conductor: Michael Schønwandt.
  3. Der Ring des Nibelungen (DVD)
    Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2002-2003. Directors: Joachim Schlömer, Christoph Nel, Jossi Wieler, and Peter Konwitschny. Conductor: Lothar Zagrosek
  4. Parsifal (DVD)
    Film, 1982. Director: Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
  5. Wagner's Ring Cycle in Anna Russell: "The (first) Farewell Concert", live 1984 (DVD)

Nila Parly is a research fellow in music and theatre at the University of Copenhagen.

Read all recommendations from Wagnerians on Wagneropera.net

Read Nila Parly's review of the Copenhagen Ring

Nila Parly's Homepage

13 March 2009

Pape back in business for Lohengrin

Latest update: Kwangchul Youn replaces Pape.

It was a great relief to receive confirmation from Staatsoper that René Pape is back in business after his illness.

René Pape is doing well and he will perform in the Lohengrin Premiere on 4 April.

The Cast:

Heinrich der Vogler: Kwangchul Youn René Pape
Lohengrin: Burkhard Fritz Klaus Florian Vogt
Elsa von Brabant: Dorothea Röschmann
Friedrich von Telramund: Gerd Grochowski
Ortrud, seine Gemahlin: Michaela Schuster
Der Heerrufer des Königs: Arttu Kataja

A deranged member of the audience

Sometimes you read something that is just so funny... I had a great moment reading Mark Berry's - as always - well written review of the Domingo-Cirkus-Parsifal in Berlin lately. Domingo obviously wasn't prepared, and kept forgetting this and that. The prompter tried to help as best she could, leaving at least one member of the audience a bit confused:

At one point, he [Domingo] simply gave up on a line, whilst there were plentiful instances of mangled syntax – it sounded as though the spear were to melt rather than to heal Amfortas’s wound – accompanied by all too audible interventions from the prompter. To begin with, I thought the latter was a deranged member of the audience, so loud were her contributions.

You can read the whole review over at the Boulezian Blog

It is Herheim's birthday today

It is Norwegian director Stefan Herheim's birthday today. Herheim, praised for his inventive Parsifal production at Bayreuth (premiere 2008), is currently working on a new Lohengrin production at the Staatsoper in Berlin with premiere 4 April.

Read Wagneropera.net's interview with Herheim's dramaturg Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach about the new Lohengrin production, that Staatsoper calls a "sister production" to the Bayreuth Wahnfried production.

Stefan Herheim

06 March 2009

Lohengrin String Puppets at Staatsoper in Berlin

Close-up up a swan (NOT part of the Herheim production)

An exciting new production for Wagner lovers this season is Stefan Herheim's Lohengrin production at Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin. Can the team who produced the awesome Parsifal at Bayreuth last summer repeat the success with this Lohengrin?

Wagneropera.net asked Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach about Lohengrin and Team Herheim's new production at Staatsoper, now being rehearsed as this is written. Dramaturg Meier-Dörzenbach has been working with Herheim for ten years.

Alexander Meier-DörzenbachWhat can we expect to experience at the premiere 4 April?

Well, it is certainly going to be interesting to see how they solve the use of string puppets. Meier-Dörzenbach says that Wagner's "ardent, passionate and somewhat naive belief in authoritarian guidance is of central interest to our starting point". Elsa will no doubt be an important character in the production. Meier-Dörzenbach sees her producing in her opening aria the redeeming work of art, Lohengrin. Art or real life, poetry or wisdom, knowledge or belief, curiosity or blind obedience?

The production will be conducted by Daniel Barenboim. The cast includes Kwangchul Youn René Pape, Burkhard Fritz, Dorothea Röschmann, Gerd Grochowski, Michaela Schuster, and Arttu Kataja. Pape has been absent due to illness during the rehearsals so far.

Read the interview at Wagneropera.net:
Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach: Since we will be working with string puppets, it is rather difficult to state what kind of "person" Lohengrin is

(The photo of the swan is not part of the production)

Staatsoper Berlin

03 March 2009

Weimar Rheingold Cover

The cover for the upcoming DVD release of Das Rheingold is ready:

Weimar Rheingold on DVD: The Cast

Cast information for the upcoming Weimar Rheingold release on DVD, the first part of the Weimar Ring.

Wotan Mario Hoff
Donner Alexander Günther
Froh Jean-Noël Briend
Loge Erin Caves
Alberich Tomas Möwes
Mime Frieder Aurich
Fasolt Renatus Mészár
Fafner Hidekazu Tsumaya
Fricka Christine Hansmann
Freia Marietta Zumbült
Erda Nadine Weissmann
Woglinde Silona Michel
Wellgunde Susann Günther-Dissmeier
Flosshilde Christiane Bassek
Norns Luise Grabolle, Marie-Louise Winde, Luisa Wöllner

Conductor Carl St. Clair
Stage Director Michael Schulz
Staatskapelle Weimar
Set Design Dirk Becker
Costume Design Renée Listerdal
Dramaturgy Wolfgang Willaschek

Supernumeraries of the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar

Directed for Television and Video by Brooks Riley

To be continued...