31 July 2010

Penelope Turing dies aged 85

Penelope Turing, Bayreuth Festival expert, traveller, author, critic and lecturer died this morning in London, 85 years old.

Opera, especially Richard Wagner, has been a major influence in her life. Turing is the author of New Bayreuth", first published in 1969. This book is an important source to the post war productions at the Bayreuth Festival.

Her biography on Hans Hotter was first published in 1983, and each year she gave courses in Britain on Wagner’s operas and on the new post war style at Bayreuth.

Turing is one of the very few persons that has seen every single production at the Bayreuth Festival since the Second World War, and she has reported from the Bayreuth Festival almost every year since 1952. Her last Bayreuth visit was in 2009, which she was covering for The Stage. Although faltering health has restricted her travelling lately, she had planned to see the new Lohengrin production, and she was perfectly aware that this visit would have been her last.

I met Turing for the first time during the Festival in Bayreuth in 2008. We attended the same performances, and it was impossible not to be moved by this tiny old woman who had severe difficulties walking, but was friendliness herself, very British, and with a wonderful sense of humour and irony. We talked during the one hour intermissions, eating Wurst with mustard, and she was happy to share her Bayreuth experiences with Wagneropera.net's readers in an interview that Erling E. Guldbrandsen and I did with her at the Arvena Kongress Hotel that summer.

Just five days before she died we spoke on the phone. She told me she had to cancel her Bayreuth trip this year, and it was obvious that she was very weak when we spoke. She laughed out loud, though, when I told her about the rats in the new Lohengrin production at Bayreuth. The creativity of the Regietheater productions she never really liked, but even though she did not approve of the new New Bayreuth, her lifelong love for the Bayreuth Festival, and her appreciation of the work done by the people at the Bayreuth Festival, never died.

Dedication in "New Bayreuth".

30 July 2010

San Francisco: Richard Wagner's "The Ring of the Nibelung" in Summer 2011

In June and July of 2011, San Francisco Opera will present three complete cycles of Wagner's "The Ring of the Nibelung" ("Das Rheingold," "Die Walküre," "Siegfried," "Götterdämmerung"). While the cycles are only available by subscription as a four-opera series, single tickets are available for the production-premiere performances of "Siegfried" (Sunday, May 29, 1pm) and "Götterdämmerung" (Sunday, June 5, 1pm).

"Ring" Director Francesca Zambello was recently appointed general and artistic director at Glimmerglass Opera, the summer opera festival in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Zambello has worked at many of the world's major opera houses. Her staging of this past summer's "Die Walküre" received raves from critics and audiences, according to the San Francisco Opera press release.

"Ring" Festival 2011
Beginning this September, a diverse array of cultural and educational institutions will present lectures and symposia, exhibits, musical performances, film screenings and other events throughout the Bay Area for audiences who desire to connect with the work in new and compelling ways.

Learn more here

The World of Wagner's "Ring"
The World of Wagner's "Ring"--A Composer's View Hosted by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Composer Conrad Susa ("The Dangerous Liaisons," "The Love of Don Perlimplin") will serve as guide in an examination of the power and scope of Wagner's great "Ring" cycle. Those who are familiar with Susa's charming style will relish his reverent - and irreverent - insights. Come explore these vast structures in a journey through sagas and mystery, a journey into your own soul.

Photo: Cory Weaver

27 July 2010

To what extent does Wagner’s anti-semitism impinge on his music dramas?

Nobody denies that Wagner was an anti-semite. But was his anti-semitism expressed in the works themselves? The issue has been much debated over the past two decades, but has resurfaced once again recently, not least with the new production by Richard Jones of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for Welsh National Opera, performed also at the BBC Proms.

The Wagner Journal asked Barry Emslie, author of Richard Wagner and the Centrality of Love  (Boydell & Brewer, 2010) and Mark Berry, who reviewed Emslie's book in the latest issue of the journal, to debate the subject.

To what extent does Wagner’s anti-semitism impinge on his music dramas?

Read their discussion on thewagnerjournal.co.uk

26 July 2010

Hans Neuenfels: Lohengrin at the Bayreuther Festspiele

The 99th Bayreuth Festival was opened on Sunday 25 July with the usual unwagnerische procession of so-called prominent people. A completely disgusting circus.

The Festival opened with a new production of Lohengrin by German music theatre's enfant terrible, Hans Neuenfels. Judging from the radio broadcast, there were two names that deserve a special  mentioning: Jonas Kaufmann as the near perfect Lohengrin and the conductor Andris Nelsons.

Reviews (to be updated)
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