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".

2 comments:

leonora said...

Sorry to hear about this!

Anonymous said...

funeral details
MONDAY 16th AUGUST 2010 at 11am
ST GABRIELS CHURCH WARWICK SQUARE PIMLICO LONDON SW1V 2AD