23 December 2011

The Opera Orchestra of New York: Rienzi at Avery Fisher Hall on Sunday 29 January 2012


Tenor Ian Storey stars in the title role with soprano Elisabete Matos as Irene and mezzo-soprano Geraldine Chauvet in her US debut as Adriano. Music Director Laureate and Opera Orchestra of New York founder Eve Queler conducts

The Opera Orchestra of New York continues its 41st season with an opera-in-concert performance of Wagner’s Rienzi conducted by Music Director Laureate, Eve Queler at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.  The opera, based on the life of Cola di Rienz (1313–1354), the Italian medieval politician and popular leader of the Roman people whose goal was to transform society by raising the power of the people, stars tenor Ian Storey in the title role, with soprano Elisabete Matos as Irene and mezzo-soprano Geraldine Chauvet in her US debut as Adriano.  All three artists will be making their Opera Orchestra of New York debuts.
Single tickets priced from $35 to $165 can be purchased online by visiting www.operaorchestrany.org or www.carnegiehall.org, or by calling the Opera Orchestra of New York’s box office at 212-906-9137.

Rienzi, one of Eve Queler’s signature operas,was first performed by The Opera Orchestra of New York in 1980 at Carnegie Hall and again in 1982 at Avery Fisher Hall and the Kennedy Center. Following the Kennedy Center performance The Washington Post reported, "Grand Rienzi: Eve Queler's Crowd-Pleasing Wagner...the near capacity crowd was storming and cheering,” and music critic Byron Belt also remarked," Rienzi set off skyrockets that sent most of the audience into the night buzzing with excitement. Thank you, Eve Queler, for an unforgettable experience!" The next performance of Rienzi by the Opera Orchestra of New York was at Carnegie Hall in 1992 and introduced German soprano Dorothea Röschmann as the Messenger of Peace. It has been Ms. Queler’s tradition to feature a young upcoming soprano in the role, and since singing the Messenger of Peace, Ms. Roschmann has gone on to sing at the Metropolitan Opera and at major concert halls worldwide.

For this performance of Rienzi, the title role will be sung by the Wagnerian heldentenor Ian Storey, who recently sang the role of Siegfried in the San Francisco Opera’s Ring Cycle. Soprano Elisabete Matos, who recently made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla Del West, will sing Irene, the highest role Wagner wrote for soprano, and French mezzo soprano Gabrielle Chauvet will make her U.S. debut in the trouser role, Adriano. Young soprano Emily Duncan-Brown will be featured in the performance as the Messenger of Peace and rounding out the cast will be bass-baritone Philip Horst as Stefano Colonna, bass-baritone Brandon Cedel as Raimondo, baritone Shannon DeVine as Cecco Del Vecchio and tenor Jonathan Winell as Baroncelli.  They will be joined by The New York Choral society and the West Point Cadet Glee Club who will march into the hall singing the vigorous soldiers chorus.

The Opera Orchestra of New York was established in 1971 by Eve Queler, the company’s Conductor Laureate, to present to rarely-heard operas and provide the public with an opportunity to hear them performed in major concert venues. Among the Opera Orchestra’s numerous U.S. premieres are Puccini’s Edgar with Carlo Bergonzi and Renata Scotto; Boito’s Nerone with James Morris and Pablo Elvira; and Smetana’s Libuse with Gabriela Benacková and Paul Plishka. The company also performed the New York premiere of Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans, with Dolora Zajick and Jorma Hynninen, which was also the American premiere of the Russian language version.  The ensemble has also presented works long neglected in New York, such as Wagner’s Rienzi, Verdi’s I Lombardi, Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles, and Catalani’s La Wally. These pioneering efforts have led national opera companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric and Houston Grand Opera to add to their permanent repertoires works that received their first major modern hearing by The Opera Orchestra of New York including I lombardi, Donizetti’s La Favorita, Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini, Dvořák’s Rusalka and Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina.

The Opera Orchestra of New York was also established as a means to identify and foster young operatic talent, providing young singers with an opportunity to rehearse and perform with full orchestra and chorus. The Opera Orchestra of New York has nurtured the talents of Renée Fleming, Aprile Millo, Vivica Genaux, Deborah Voigt, Latonia Moore, Stephen Costello, Michael Fabiano, Bryan Hymel and Eglise Gutiérrez. Other singers who have worked with Opera Orchestra very early in their careers include José Carreras, Barbara Hendricks, Dwayne Croft, Samuel Ramey and James Morris. Singers who made their U.S. or New York debuts with Opera Orchestra include Gabriela Benacková, Stephanie Blythe, Olga Borodina, Ghena Dimitrova, Jane Eaglen, Carlo Guelfi, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Vesselina Kasarova, Paul Plishka, Rosalind Plowright and Krassimira Stoyanova and Dolora Zajick.

Eve Queler is internationally recognized for her ground-breaking work with the Opera Orchestra and as a guest conductor of symphonic and opera repertoire at venues that span the international musical world. She has conducted more than 100 operas in concert at Carnegie Hall, many of which are rarely performed, bringing them to the attention of the American public and introducing them to the standard repertoire. Ms. Queler has conducted at opera companies worldwide, including Oper Frankfurt, Oper Bonn, Kirov Opera, Hamburg Oper, Rome Opera, and the Australian Opera; and has led the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, and the Orchestra Sinfonia Siciliana in Palermo, Italy.  Ms. Queler championed many Russian and Czech operas unknown in the U.S. and was the first conductor in America to perform Mussorgsky’s unfinished Khovanshchina with orchestration by Shostakovich, as well as the first Czech-language performance of Janacek’s Katya Kabanova in 1979, Jenufa in 1988 and Dvorak’s Rusalka in 1987. Ms. Queler recently made her conducting debut at the Puccini Festival, Torre del Lago leading Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

In October 2010, Ms. Queler was named a National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honoree for her focus on rarely performed operas and for her dedication to emerging singers, which she has brought to her work as music director, and now Conductor Laureate of the Opera Orchestra of New York. This award for Lifetime Achievement in Opera is considered the nation's highest honor in opera and salutes our nation’s cultural treasures. Ms. Queler has been named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of the highest awards presented by the French government, for her commitment to French operas.   

Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.
Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, New York, NY

Rienzi
The Opera Orchestra of New York
Eve Queler, conductor
Cola Rienzi                    Ian Storey
Irene                             Elizabete Matos
Adriano                         Geraldine Chauvet
Stefano Colonna            Philip Horst
Raimondo                      Brandon Cedel
Baroncelli                      Jonathan Winell
Paolo Orsini              Ricardo Rivera   
Cecco Del Vecchio        Shannon DeVine
Messenger of Peace      Emily Duncan-Brown


Single tickets priced from $35 to $165 can be purchased online by visiting www.operaorchestrany.org or www.carnegiehall.org, or by calling the Opera Orchestra of New York’s box office at 212-906-9137.

Wagner productions and concerts 2012 here

15 December 2011

Esa-Pekka Salonen, Peter Sellars and Bill Viola’s Tristan und Isolde at Helsinki Festival

Helsinki Festival will be bringing Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde to Helsinki’s new Music Centre on 18 and 21 August 2012. This truly unique and sumptuously visual production of the classic work, a collaboration between conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, director Peter Sellars and video artist Bill Viola, will expand beyond the confines of the stage to take over the entire concert hall. Salonen will be conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and joined by an impressive roster of soloists, including Gary Lehman, Violeta Urmana, Matti Salminen and Jukka Rasilainen. Tickets will go on sale through Lippupalvelu on 15 December 2011 at 9 am.

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde is widely acknowledged to be one of the most significant works in musical history. The Helsinki Festival production draws on the possibilities afforded by media art and set design to bring new perspectives to this much-performed classic. The American video art pioneer Bill Viola’s breathtaking images will be projected onto an 11-metre screen. Viola’s videos breathe with the rhythm of the music. Directed by the highly acclaimed Peter Sellars, the performers move across the concert hall, creating a powerful three-dimensional effect.

”We have succeeded in securing a genuine first-class ensemble, a real dream team for this production and the Helsinki performances in particular. What’s more, Esa-Pekka Salonen will be making his debut performance at the new Helsinki Music Centre,” commented Helsinki Festival Director Erik Söderblom.

Salonen, Sellars and Viola’s Tristan project was first performed in Los Angeles in 2004 and has since played in major cities across the world, including Paris, London, Tokyo and New York City.

www.helsinkifestival.fi

10 December 2011

Seth Godin on the music industry



Seth Godin talks about the music industry not understanding the customers. Do you agree with him?

Seth Godin has written thirteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. Godin’s second book, Unleashing the Ideavirus, is the most popular e-book ever published, and in 2003, his book Purple Cow was the #1 best-selling marketing book on Amazon. His other works include The Big Red Fez, Survival Is Not Enough, Free Prize Inside, All Marketers Are Liars, The Big Moo, Small is the New Big, and Meatball Sundae. His recent release, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, became an instant best-seller, and his 2010 Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? inspires audiences to overcome the resistance that holds them back from becoming an indispensable asset to any organization.

Seth Godin's Homepage

What clothes would we give them?

I read Herr v. Weber's book to him, and it occurs to him how impossible it is for us to civilize these peoples (Kaffirs, Zulus, etc.). What clothes would we give them?
Cosima Wagner: Diaries. December 10, 1879

01 December 2011

Marek Janowski's Wagner Cycle Continues

The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle will reach its peak in the 2012-2013 season with the “Ring of the Nibelung” tetralogy.

Season 2011 | 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | 6 pm
Tristan and Isolde

Saturday, May 5, 2012 | 6 pm
Tannhäuser and the Singing Contest on the Wartburg


FOLLOWING SEASONS   –   WAGNER CYCLE

Thursday, November 22, 2012 | 8 pm
Ring of the Nibelung, The Rhinegold

Saturday, November 24, 2012 | 6 pm
Ring of the Nibelung, The Valkyrie

Saturday, March 1, 2013 | 6 pm
Ring of the Nibelung, Siegfried

Sunday, March 15 2013 | 6 pm
Ring of the Nibelung, Twilight of the Gods
 
http://www.rsb-online.de

Crimes of love

They all do it, from Senta and Elsa, Elisabeth and Isolde, Sieglinde and Brünhilde to Venus, Ortrud, Gutrune and Kundry: They break taboos, stretch the limits, breach well-nigh sacrosanct conventions. But they must commit these crimes, offering themselves up in the name of love and forsaking their very selves for their heroes (who also freely follow in their footsteps, committing further transgressions).

His breaking of taboos, his stretching of limits and his radical approach to conventions not only characterize Richard Wagner’s life, characters and texts, they are also hallmarks of his music that even go so far as to provoke the polarizing present-day fascination with his works. Even with eyes closed, the listener can clearly hear these defining traits, measure by measure; and the pictures to accompany them arise of their own accord.

Following on the heels of the performances of the  "The Flying Dutchman", Parsifal“ and “Meistersinger“ in the 2010-2011 season, the 2011-2012 program now brings us „Lohengrin”, „Tristan and Isolde“ and „Tannhäuser“.

The leading Wagner singers to make guest appearances with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra for the concerts include Klaus Florian Vogt (Lohengrin), Torsten Kerl (Tannhäuser), Stephen Gould (Tristan), Nina Stemme (Isolde and Elisabeth), Günther Groissböck (Heinrich) and Christian Gerhaher (Wolfram von Eschenbach). The Wagner cycle is being held under the aegis of Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag. Deutschlandradio Kultur will be broadcasting each of the concerts, which are also to be produced on CD by the Netherlands-based PentaTone label. The "The Flying Dutchman" was released in September 2011, as well as “The Meistersinger” in November 2011.

It is the objective of the RSB’s principal conductor and artistic director, Marek Janowski, to convey to the audience the high musical quality of Wagner’s compositions in the absence of scenic interpretation, focusing on the music alone.

http://www.rsb-online.de

Rat production of Lohengrin out in June 2012


Photo: Enrico Nawrath/Bayreuther Festspiele

Hans Neuenfels' production of Lohengrin (Bayreuth) will be released in June 2012, according to Opus Arte's Facebook page.

19 November 2011

"The Wagner Circle" created to support Wagner productions at The Royal Opera

Continuing the Ring and Parsifal in 2007/2008, Der fliegende Holländer and Lohengrin in 2008/2009 and Tristan und Isolde in 2009/2010, The Royal Opera will stage a Wagner production each Season, culminating in a revival of the Ring in 2012.

The magnitude of this project and interest in Wagner’s work is such that ROH has created a special group to support these productions.

The Wagner Circle brings together like-minded people for interesting and insightful evenings that provide a deeper knowledge and understanding of Wagner, his operas and their portrayal at the Royal Opera House.


WAGNER CIRCLE EVENTS 2011/2012

In 2011/2012 the Wagner Circle will help to support The Royal Opera's revivals of Der fliegende Holländer and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and will enjoy a special programme of involvement around these productions.

Thursday 29 September 2011
A musical evening in a private London home with Wagnerian bass René Pape and The Royal Opera’s Head of Music David Syrus to hear Mr Pape prepare his Wagner roles

Wednesday 2 November 2011
An afternoon in the company of Concertmaster Peter Manning, and members of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, to demonstrate Wagner’s string technique and orchestration in Der fliegende Holländer

Wednesday 7 December 2011
An afternoon sitzprobe stage rehearsal with the principal cast of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg led by Maestro Antonio Pappano followed by afternoon tea*

Monday 19 December 2011
An evening around the first-night performance of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg including a pre-performance talk and post-performance party with members of the cast. We have reserved top-price performance tickets for you to purchase*

Wednesday 18 April 2012
A ‘Ring Refresher’ evening, to explore The Royal Opera’s Ring. Special guest speakers (subject to availability) will include author, dramaturge and critic, Barry Millington, author and critic Gary Kahn and the Royal Opera House’s commissioning editor John Snelson. Musical excerpts will be performed by soprano Susan Bullock and heldentenor Simon O’Neill

Monday 18 June 2012
An evening in the company of the new Director of Opera, Kasper Holten, who directed his own imaginative Ring in Copenhagen 2006, and academic and author of Treacherous Bonds and Laughing Fire: Religion and Politics in the Ring, Dr Mark Berry. They will discuss different stagings of the Ring

* All tickets and catering would be in addition to the gift

02 November 2011

Robert Lepage’s Siegfried at the Met



In part three of Metropolitan Opera's new Ring production by Robert Lepage, Wagner’s cosmic vision focuses on his hero’s early conquests, while Robert Lepage’s revolutionary stage machine transforms itself from bewitched forest to mountaintop love nest. Jay Hunter Morris sings the title role and Deborah Voigt’s Brünnhilde is his prize. Bryn Terfel is the Wanderer. Fabio Luisi conducts.

Cast

Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Brünnhilde: Deborah Voigt
Erda: Patricia Bardon
Siegfried: Jay Hunter Morris
Mime: Gerhard Siegel
Wanderer: Bryn Terfel
Alberich: Eric Owens

Production: Robert Lepage
Associate Director: Neilson Vignola
Set Designer: Carl Fillion
Costume Designer: François St-Aubin
Lighting Designer: Etienne Boucher
Video Image Artist: Pedro Pires

31 October 2011

Ole Anders Tandberg's production of The Coronation of Poppea (Monteverdi) as a stunning TV Opera Drama



The magnificent production at the Norwegian National Opera of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea) by director Ole Anders Tandberg is now ready for an international audience as a TV Opera Drama. The musical level is high, and the director shows that he ranks among the very best in Europe today. The (some traditionalists would say) extreme production actually enhances the musical experience and makes Monteverdi accessible to an audience who might think that an opera from 1642 is bound to be boring. But in addition, the TV production is so intelligent and stunning, all in black and white (except for the colour red), with creative use of camera angles and subtle use of editing effects like jump cuts, slow motion, fast forward etc., making it the best adaptation of an opera I have ever seen on the TV screen.

Credit
Ole Anders Tandberg (stage director)
Birgitte Christensen (Poppea)
Jacek Laszczkowski (Nerone)
Tim Mead (Ottone)
Patricia Bardon (Ottavia)
Ina Kringlebotn (Fortuna)
Giovanni Battista Parodi (Seneca)
Marita Solberg (Virtù/Drusilla)
Amelie Aldenheim (Amor/Pallide/Damigella)
Emiliano Gonzales Toro (Arnalta)
Conductor: Alessandro de Marchi
The Norwegian National Opera Orchestra
Duration: 4x 50´
Year of production: 2010
Produced by: NordicStories AS, Stein-Roger Bull

The format of four shorter episodes fits well into the programme schedule, and makes it possible to attract not only opera lovers but also regular TV viewers.

Press reviews of the production:
  • "Coronation of Poppea is opera at its best... Voluptuous baroque music and bloody, powerful drama.." (NRK)
  • "A brave project!" (Dagsavisen)
  • "The performance is populated with exceptional vocal talents and a director with a firm grip... Tandberg's direction demands our attention, and captivates us until the performance's final
  • breath!" (Dagbladet)
  • "A fascinating imprint of the period ... and for the most part liberating. Tandberg takes this to the limits." (Aftenposten)
  • "An illuminating experience, enveloped in everything beautiful: especially the music is in a class of its own...thoroughly delightful for the eyes, even in the darker, more destructive moments. There is a precise balancing act here between the perversions of Rome, the boisterousness of Venice and contemporary worldliness." (Vårt Land)

Heinz Tietjen at Bayreuth in 1934


In 1934 Heinz Tietjen (1881-1967) conducted and staged Rheingold, conducted and staged Walküre, conducted and staged Siegfried, conducted and staged Götterdämmerung, conducted and staged Meistersinger - and finally staged Parsifal.

Beat that.

Heinz Tietjen at the Bayreuth Festival

13 October 2011

2011 Birgit Nilsson Prize awarded to Riccardo Muti

Maestro Riccardo Muti was awarded the 2011 Birgit Nilsson Prize by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a festive ceremony of celebration and musical inspiration held at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm on Thursday evening, October 13. This Prize of one million dollars, established by Birgit Nilsson herself, is the most generous prize in the world of classical music.







Acceptance speech by Riccardo Muti









Press conference before Award Ceremony with Maestro Riccardo Muti
(Royal Swedish Opera, 13 October 2011)









More highlights of the Award Ceremony

13 September 2011

Your favourite Siegmund/Sieglinde on DVD




Peter Hofmann / Jeannine Altmeyer (Cheréau/Boulez)
Poul Elming / Nadine Secunde (Kupfer/Barenboim)
Gary Lakes / Jessye Norman (Schenk/Levine)
Richard Berkeley-Steele / Linda Watson (Kupfer/de Billy)
Robert Gambill / Angela Denoke (Stuttgart Ring)

09 September 2011

Kasper Holten's Claustrophobic Tannhäuser Production in Copenhagen


Stig Fogh Andersen as Tannhäuser

Kasper Holten's production of Tannhäuser is an interesting reading of the story set in the 19th Century in an atmosphere that evokes Strindberg and Ibsen. Tannhäuser is torn between his mission as an artist (the Venus world) and his obligations as a husband and a father (Elisabeth's world). The Rome narration is his own retelling of the work of fiction he has written during his absence in "Rome". This is very innovative and surprising, and provides a fresh perspective of the opera. Kasper Holten's strength is in the details. He is always attentive to nuances in the music, and generally the Personenregie is among the best of the opera world today. And he obviously has an abilty to inspire strong dramatic interpretations from his singers.

None of the singers excel vocally in this production, although four principals, Stig Andersen (Tannhäuser, Tina Kiberg (Elisabeth), Susanne Resmark (Venus) and Stephen Milling (Hermann) are all at least acceptable. The chorus is far below par, seldom sounding as if they are a unified group. The orchestra's performance is marred by an odd balancing of the instrument groups and by uninspired playing under conductor Friedemann Layer. So, musically the DVD seems more the product of a provincial theatre, except for the aforementioned principal singers.

Unfortunately the opera as a conflict between art and family life reduces much of the tension in the music and in the drama. The story fails to convince the viewer that much is at stake here. I found it difficult to relate to the drama as Holten presents it. In reality Tannhäuser's conflict - no matter how it is interpreted - is a matter of life or death, of redemption or hell. In a way this production is metatheatre that does not dare to fully embrace this idea. In my opinion, the concept needs some ironic distance.


As filmed opera I am sad to say that the DVD is very inferior with lots of filming from meaningless angles (the shots from floor level are visually a disaster). That said, a lot of the close-ups and fast editing work very well, suiting Holten's claustrophobic one set vision.

As a final note it would be interesting to hear Cubus Film and TV editors Peter and Uffe Borgwardt's explanation of what on earth they were thinking of editing DVD 2 at 1:31:10 and 1:32:30 where they used the same shot twice of Wolfram putting a blanket over Elisabeth right before he sings "Wie Todesahnung, Dämm'rung deckt die Lande". This is as bad as video editing can get.

PES

28 August 2011

Tickets to the Bayreuth Festival 2012

For the Festival Season 2012 there will be some novelties in Bayreuth Festival's ticket sale: For the first time tickets can be applied for online.

At http://ticket.btfs.de applicants can register starting September 15, 2011. First time applicants can register her. Repeat orders can also be placed in the system: The customers receive a personal access code with their annual ticket order form which takes into account their application and ticket history. Application via post is also possible.

In addition, it will also be possible to pay for the ticket invoice by credit card.

Stefan Herheim's Parsifal will be recorded



Great news from Bayreuth! On 5 August 2012 Stefan Herheim's Parsifal will be recorded! Conductor will be Philippe Jordan, according to the Bayreuth Festival newsletter.

24 August 2011

Final day for Katharina's Meistersinger



Today is the final performance of Katharina Wagner's Meistersinger production. Stefan Vinke will sing Walther von Stolzing (replaces Burkhard Fritz).

Have you seen the production in Bayreuth or on DVD? Will you miss the it?

04 August 2011

Penelope Turing on the Bayreuth Festival


"From the earliest days of its festivals, to sing or conduct at Bayreuth was to receive the accolade of greatness in the Wagnerian field. Glance through the programmes of the past and one finds a galaxy of famous names. They all considered it the highest honour they could win and came, in the old days, for very low fees. Artistically and professionally the Bayreuth hallmark ensured engagements wherever an operahouse aspired to the best, and with that came big money.

Penelope Turing: "Hans Hotter - Man and Artist" p 120

Hans Neuenfels: Lohengrin, Bayreuth 2011

Excerpts from Mark Berry's review on Wagneropera.net:

The orchestra was on fine form indeed, its strings silky and aspiring upwards in the First Act Prelude. (There was actually a minor slip here, but that merely served to highlight the excellence elsewhere.) Andris Nelsons fashioned an account of the score that was largely unobtrusive. There were occasions when his growing mannerism of slowing things down excessively and thereafter speeding up as if to compensate – almost like a giant-scale conception of rubato – manifested itself, but for the most part he proved himself a faithful guide. It may not have sounded like ‘great’ Wagner, but it was certainly good Wagner. The choral singing probably did qualify as ‘great’. I fear that I may become unduly repetitive extolling the excellence of Eberhard Friedrich’s chorus, but the extolling really needs to be done. And to think, all the time, the chorus members had to act their roles as individual rats too.

Telramund

Samuel Youn (Heerrufer), Georg Zeppenfeld (Heinrich) and Tómas Tómasson (Telramund). Photo: Enrico Nawrath / Bayreuther Festspiele


[...] Petra Lang was a magnificent Ortrud. Had I not heard – and equally importantly, seen – Waltraud Meier in the role, I should have been even more awestruck. As it was, she built up to a terrifying, blood-curdling climax at the tragic close, which even rivalled Meier. [...] Georg Zeppenfeld showed us an intriguing Henry the Fowler, powerful in his suggestion of diseased decadence: quite different from the norm, but compellingly so.


Lohengrin

It is a Lohengrin one does not easily forget: numbered laboratory rats provide an image that lodges itself in one’s mind, and makes one think, which is just what good musical drama should do. Klaus Florian Vogt and Annette Dasch. Photo: Enrico Nawrath / Bayreuther Festspiele

Read Mark Berry's review on Wagneropera.net



Lohengrin

Klaus Florian Vogt as Lohengrin.

Read Mark Berry's review on Wagneropera.net

03 August 2011

Sebastian Baumgarten: Tannhäuser, Bayreuth 2011

Sebastian Baumgarten Tannhäuser

All photos: Enrico Nawrath / Bayreuther Festspiele

Wagneropera.net's critic Mark Berry searched for what might be valuable in Sebastian Baumgarten's production of Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival this summer to attempt to discover what grounds there might be for a dissenting opinion. Unfortunately, that was to prove a devil’s advocacy too far.
Joop van Lieshour’s ‘obsessive Installation’ is the principal character (‘Hauptrolle’) in Sebastian Baumgarten's production of Tannhäuser at Bayreuth – so much for Tannhäuser and Elisabeth – and this installation’s business is recycling of human excrement into food and alcohol, the latter so as to pacify and therefore to prevent rebellion. (As the late Anna Russell used to say, ‘I’m not making this up, you know!’…

Read Mark Berry's review: Sebastian Baumgarten: Tannhäuser, Bayreuth 2011




Michael Nagy

According to Mark Berry, two performances were excellent. Günther Groissböck displayed the most recognisably ‘Wagnerian’ voice, and sang handsomely indeed as the Landgrave. And if Michael Nagy could not efface my memories of Christian Gerhaher at the aforementioned Covent Garden performances, no one in my experience ever has, whether live or on record. Nagy’s Wolfram was attentive to all aspects of the text, and impressively acted too: I do not recall Wolfram’s jealousy registering quite so clearly, or movingly.

Camilla Nylund, Elisabeth
Camilla Nylund as Elisabeth: Dich, teure Halle; grüss' ich wieder.

01 August 2011

To commemorate the victims of the bomb in Oslo and the massacre on Utøya 22 July 2011


Norway mourns the massacre victims. At least 77 persons, most of them teenagers at a summer camp in Utøya, were killed by a right-wing extremist.

Outside the Cathedral in Oslo people gathered to mourn.

Outside the Cathedral in Oslo children showed their respect by giving what was dear to them.

Police guarding the Prime-Minister's Office in Akersgata, Oslo.

Outside the Cathedral in Oslo.

Mourners outside the Cathedral in Oslo.


Flowers outside the Cathedral in Oslo.

21 July 2011

Wagner at the Tiroler Festspiele Erl



The opera section of the 2011 Festival in Erl is completely devoted to Richard Wagner

Tannhäuser
July 8, 16, 29
Passionsspielhaus Erl


Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
July 15, 23
Passionsspielhaus Erl


Parsifal
July 22 Premiere
Also 31. Juli 2011, 11 Uhr - Matinée
Passionsspielhaus Erl


Parsifal Cast 2011
Parsifal Zvetan Michailov, Michael Baba, Marc Horus
Gurnemanz Franz Hawlata, Johannes Schmidt
Amfortas Thomas Gazheli, Michael Kupfer
Kundry Martina Tomčić, Mona Somm, Junko Saito, Yanar Aporta
Klingsor Michael Kupfer, Joachim Fuchs
Titurel Michael Doumas
1. Gruppe Blumenmädchen
1. Blumenmädchen Anna Princeva, Tatiana Agiuar
2. Blumenmädchen Michiko Watanabe, Klara Luznik
3. Blumenmädchen Kirsten Schwarz, Angela Alessandra Notarnicola
2. Gruppe Blumenmädchen
1. Blumenmädchen Silja Schindler, Giancarla Betella
2. Blumenmädchen Junko Saito, Manuela Maria Dumfart, Laura Scotti
3. Blumenmädchen Vaida Raginskyte, Bettina Block
1. Ritter Wolfram Wittekind | 2. Ritter Frederik Baldus
1. Knappe Anna Lucia Nardi, Michiko Watanabe
2. Knappe Sabina Beani, Kirsten Schwarz
3. Knappe Marc Horus, Minyong Kang
4. Knappe Joe Tsuchizaki
Stimme aus der Höhe Kirsten Schwarz, Vaida Raginskyte
Schwan Claudia Czyz

Orchester der Tiroler Festspiele Erl
Musikalische Leitung und Regie Gustav Kuhn
Singers of the Accademia di Montegral


More info at www.tiroler-festspiele.at

25 June 2011

Cooperation between the Bayreuth Festival and Oper Leipzig

In its meeting on 22 June 2011, the city council of Leipzig has conceded an extraordinary grant to Oper Leipzig for the celebrations on the upcoming occasion of the Wagner Anniversary in 2013, according to a press release from the Bayreuth Festival.

The celebrations will focus on a cooperation of Oper Leipzig with the Bayreuth Festival, intending joint performances of the early works of Richard Wagner – “Die Feen”, “Das Liebesverbot” and “Rienzi” – in both Leipzig and Bayreuth.

Together with Oper Leipzig the Bayreuth Festival will inform about further artistic details holding a press conference in Berlin on 27 October 2011.

23 June 2011

Tony Palmer’s newly re-mastered Wagner biographical film


Highly regarded when it premiered in 1983 to commemorate the centenary of Richard Wagner’s death, director Tony Palmer’s newly re-mastered Wagner biographical film is still an important addition to any Wagnerian’s DVD collection.

The film’s 16:9 aspect ratio makes it perfect for today’s wide-screen high-definition TVs, while enhancing Palmer’s breathtaking natural panoramas, according to Jerry Floyd who reviews the film on Wagneropera.net.

Tony Palmer: Wagner (review on Wagneropera.net)

Principal Historical Figures

Richard Burton (Richard Wagner), Vanessa Redgrave (Cosima), Gemma Craven (Minna), László Gálffi (Ludwig II), Sir John Gielgud (Pfistermeister), Sir Ralph Richardson (Pforden), Sir Laurence Olivier (Pfeufer), Ekkehard Schall (Franz Liszt), Ronald Pickup (Friedrich Nietzsche), Miguel Herz-Kestranek (Hans von Bülow), Richard Pasco (Otto Wesendonck), Marthe Keller (Mathilde Wesendonck), Sir William Walton (Friedrich August II of Saxony), Vernon Dobtcheff (Giacomo Meyerbeer), Jean Luc Moreau (Marius Petipa), Bernadette Schneider (Judith Gautier), Daphne Wagner (Princess Metternich), John Shrapnel (Gottfried Semper), László Horváth (Eduard Hanslick), Arthur Denberg    (Paul Taxis), Péter Andorai (Mikhail Bakunin), Stephen Oliver (Hans Richter), Tibor Kovács (Sustav Siehr), Brook Williams (Paul von Joukowsky), Andrew Cruickshank (Minister Bär /Narrator)

06 June 2011

Wagnerheim.com

Dr. Roger Scruton introduces Paul Heise’s quest to grasp the conceptual unity of Richard Wagner’s music-drama, The Ring of  the Nibelung, at www.wagnerheim.com, where Mr. Heise has made  it available free so that it can be read in its entirety.  This is an effort to grasp Wagner’s tetralogy as a whole (libretto text, plot,  and music) in the literature. Its central argument is that Wagner’s gigantic tetralogy is an allegory representing the conflict between man’s quest for power through acquisition of objective knowledge, and man’s counter-impulse to affirm his transcendent value in religion, morality, and art.

15 May 2011

Cast of Neuenfels' Lohengrin at Bayreuth 2011


Das Aug vergeht vor solchem Glanz! - Seht, näher kommt er schon heran! An einer goldnen Kette zieht der Schwan! Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

This summer's Bayreuth Festival is approaching. On the programme this year is Tannhäuser (new production by Sebastian Baumgarten), Parsifal (Stefan Herheim), Meistersinger (Katharina Wagner), Tristan und Isolde (Christoph Marthaler) and Lohengrin (Hans Neuenfels).

Here is a reminder of the cast of Hans Neuenfels' fascinating Lohengrin production, which will be recorded and released on Bluray/DVD, probably around Christmas.

Lohengrin Klaus Florian Vogt
Heinrich der Vogler Georg Zeppenfeld
Elsa von Brabant Annette Dasch
Friedrich von Telramund Tómas Tómasson
Ortrud Petra Lang
Der Heerrufer des Königs Samuel Youn
1. Edler Stefan Heibach
2. Edler Willem van der Heyden
3. Edler Rainer Zaun
4. Edler Christian Tschelebiew

04 April 2011

Keith Warner with a new Parsifal production in Copenhagen next season

The Royal Danish Opera has announced the 2011/12 programme, featuring a new production of Parsifal by Keith Warner, with Hartmut Haenchen conducting.

Cast includes Stig Fogh Andersen, Stephen Milling and John Lundgren.
March 2012: 22, 26
April 2012: 11, 14, 18, 22
May 2012: 4, 5, 13
kglteater.dk

03 April 2011

The Ring and Tristan in Weimar

Michael Schulz's production of Der Ring des Nibelungen in Weimar will be exclusively performed in two festive cycles in combination with the new production of Tristan und Isolde. The two Weimar Wagner Weeks feature an accompanying programme of evening song recitals, lectures and discussions.

More on Wagneropera.net

28 March 2011

New Tristan at Deutsche Oper, Berlin



English opera director Graham Vick is the man behind the new Tristan und Isolde at Deutsche Oper in Berlin. Here is the official trailer.

Conductor: Donald Runnicles

Cast: Peter Seiffert, Petra Maria Schnitzer, Eike Wilm Schulte, Jane Irwin

http://www.deutscheoperberlin.de/?page=haus&subpage=einblicke&textId=138215

21 March 2011

New summer music program to help launch the careers of singers beginning to explore the Wagnerian repertoire

The Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music is proud to announce the founding of a new summer music program created to help launch the careers of singers beginning to explore the Wagnerian repertoire.

B-W’s Wagner Intensive will be held from Saturday, July 23 to Saturday July 30, 2011 in the newly renovated B-W Conservatory of Music facility. 

Top Wagner singers and teachers Jane Eaglen and Timothy Mussard will lead the Intensive as co-artistic directors. Mature singers who are exploring the Wagnerian repertoire are encouraged to submit an audition by April 1, 2011 for consideration.

During eight days of intensive training, singers will participate in private lessons, repertoire coachings, scene study, German language study, staging rehearsals, and master classes.  In addition to instruction with Eaglen and Mussard, participants will interact with top Wagner coach / conductors Eric Weimer and William Vendice and guest master class artist Mezzo Soprano Nancy Maultsby. Participants will present two final public performances on Saturday, July 30 at 2:00 and 6:00 pm in the recently opened Kulas Music Hall.

Jane Eaglen, artist faculty member and co-artistic director of the Intensive, has one of the most formidable reputations in the opera world today, including roles of Isolde (for the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Teatro Liceu Barcelona, Lyric Opera of Chicago and in Puerto Rico); Norma (for the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Ravenna Festival with Maestro Muti, and the Bastille); and Brunnhilde (performed in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Milan, New York, Oslo and the UK).

Dr. Mussard, artist faculty member and co-artistic director of the Intensive, is one of America's most distinguished Heldentenors with a career which has taken him all over the world in roles such as Herold in Salome, Eric in Der Fliegender Hollander, Floestan in Fidelio, Radames in Aida, Siegfried in Der Ring Des Nibelungen, and numerous other roles.

Coach / Conductor Eric Weimer has established himself as one of the pre-eminent coach / Assistant Conductors in the international opera world and is currently on the music staff at Chicago Lyric Opera. Conductor William Vendice was Head of Music Staff and Chorus Master at Los Angeles Opera from 1995 to 2007. Master class guest artist Nancy Maultsby’s operatic career has included a wide range of roles in some of the world’s most prestigious houses. She has performed often with Lyric Opera of Chicago.

For more information, please contact (440) 826-2365, or visit: http://www.bw.edu/academics/conservatory/outreach/smp/wagner/

08 March 2011

Marek Janowski: Parsifal concert performance 8 April


Marek Janowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin continue their Wagner concert series at the Berlin Philharmonie with the stage-consecrating festival play Parsifal on April 8, 2011. 

Cast includes  Michelle DeYoung (Kundry), Evgeny Nikitin as Amfortas, Christian Elsner as Parsifal and Franz-Josef Selig as Gurnemanz.

In a series to be concluded in 2013, the RSB conducted by Marek Janowski present ten operas by Richard Wagner in concert performances at the Berlin Philharmonie. The current season also features Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in a performance on June 3.

RSB Visitor Services: +49 (0)30-202987-15, tickets@rsb-online.de
Deutschlandradio Kultur will broadcast the concert on April 16 at 6:05 p.m. 

Friday, April 8, 2011, 6:00 p.m., Berlin Philharmonie

Marek Janowski (Conductor)
Evgeny Nikitin (Amfortas)
Christian Elsner (Parsifal)
Franz-Josef Selig (Gurnemanz)
Eike Wilm Schulte (Klingsor)
Michelle DeYoung (Kundry and Voice from above)
Dimitry Ivashchenko (Titurel)
Rundfunkchor Berlin. Simon Halsey (Chorus Master)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

02 March 2011

Bayreuth Festival 2011 Cast Announced


Detlef Roth as Amfortas in Stefan Herheim's Parsifal production at Bayreuth. Photo: Enrico Nawrath / Bayreuther Festspiele

The cast of the Bayreuth Festival 2011 has been announced with no great surprises. The new Tannhäuser by Sebastian Baumgarten includes two Scandinavian Nordic Wagner singers, Lars Cleveman as Tannhäuser and Camilla Nylund as Elisabeth. And after hearing Michael Nagy as Wolfram von Eschenbach in Stefan Herheims firework of a Tannhäuser in Oslo, I am sure he will be a new favourite among the Bayreuth audiences when he makes his Bayreuth debut in this role this summer.

A couple of changes in Hans Neuenfels innovative Lohengrin production. The Bayreuth darling above all, Klaus Florian Vogt, will sing Lohengrin, Petra Lang Ortrud and Tómas Tómasson Friedrich von Telramund.

Christoph Marthaler's underrated Tristan production will have the same cast as before, with Peter Schneider am Pult, Robert Dean Smith as Tristan and Iréne Theorin as Isolde.

In Frau Wagner's Meistersinger Georg Zeppenfeld steps in as Veit Pogner and Burkhard Fritz will sing Walther von Stolzing as Klaus Florian Vogt concenrates on his Lohengrin role.

In Stefan Herheim's Parsifal (still no Blu-ray/DVD planned, it seems), the cast is almost identical to before, with Detlef Roth as Amfortas, Kwangchul Youn as Gurnemanz and Susan Maclean as Kundry. Only one change is noted: Simon O'Neill takes over as Christopher Ventris departs from the Green Hill.

24 February 2011

Detlef Roth interviewed about singing Amfortas at the Bayreuth Festival


A new interview is published on Wagneropera.net today. Detlef Roth, Amfortas in Stefan Herheim's Parsifal production at Bayreuth talks about singing Wagner and singing at Bayreuth.

Among many other interesting things, Roth explained conductor Daniele  Gatti's approach to Amfortas. "Gatti," he says, "had a very clear idea about how the role should be sung. He wanted even more piano than we did in the performances. Gatti saw Amfortas as a very, very weak person, as a person immersed in his sufferance, only coming out occasionally to be king. Gatti wanted more of almost whispering, but we had to change a lot of that in the actual performances. For me, working on the singing was not so much a technical work on the voice, but more developing the interpretation, especially the colours. It was important for Gatti to have the right colours, and as many colours as possible"

Detlef Roth: Amfortas' Suffering is Germany's

12 February 2011

Die singende Stadt - a documentary about Staatsoper Stuttgart and Calixto Bieito's Parsifal



Die singende Stadt (The Singing City) is a documentary film about the opera house Staatsoper Stuttgart and Calixto Bieito's Parsifal Production.
The film was made by Vadim Jendreyko. It will be shown in German theatres from 10 February.
No information about a DVD / Bluray release has been published yet.

Die singende Stadt - the trailer




See Wagneropera.net for cinemas

07 February 2011

Svalbard - the Blue Beauty

Spitsbergen, Svalbard

I hope you'll forgive me for posting this very off topic blog post. But I've just returned from Spitsbergen, Svalbard's largest island, working on web related matters for Spitsbergen Travel. Svalbard is the last stop before the North Pole. I wanted to share with you a couple of photos of this magnificent Arctic landscape. The dark season is about to end, and in some weeks they'll have the midnight sun (19 April to 22 August). Right now, when the first sign of light is coming, the landscape in Svalbard is bathed in the most beautiful blue colours you can imagine. It is really beyond beautiful and leaves me humble and awestruck. When I was snowmobiling though this landscape, the only music I felt could match this beauty was Parsifal...


Svalbard

When the sun reaches above the horizon, the mountains will be painted pink and purple before the midnight sun lights up everything.

polar bear warning sign

Not far away from this polar bear warning sign is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (also called the Doomsday Seed Vault) is located near the largest settlement Longyearbyen (almost 2000 inhabitants).



The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed bank storing seed deep, deep in the mountain.

All photos: Per-Erik Skramstad

29 January 2011

Mark Elder and the Hallé - a concert version of Die Walküre at The Bridgewater Hall

Manchester International Festival (MIF) have commissioned Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé to produce a concert version of Die Walküre performed over two nights at The Bridgewater Hall, which has arguably the UK’s finest orchestral acoustic. We have also commissioned Gerard McBurney to create The Madness of an Extraordinary Plan, a new dramatic prologue to Die Walküre. Sir Mark Elder leads the Hallé and three actors in a guide to Richard Wagner’s revolutionary reinvention of the musical language of opera.

More information about the opera

Interview with Sir Mark Elder

17 January 2011

±0 – plus minus zero – Christoph Marthaler meets Greenland

The Bergen International Festival has joined forces with a number of other European cultural institutions to create a new musical theatre performance with Greenland as the starting point. This production has been titled ±0, and will be staged by Swiss director Christoph Marthaler.

±0 – plus minus zero – is the point where solid and liquid meet, where solid ground becomes thin ice. Few places have more experience of this grey area than Greenland, where extreme natural conditions and social isolation dominate everyday life, and the difference between plus and minus can be the difference between life and death.

The forgotten stories
In spring 2011, director Christoph Marthaler will head for Greenland to find out what the ±0 condition actually feels like. Over the past 20 years, he has established a position for himself as one of Europe’s most respected dramatic artists, and he is well-known for productions that combine warmth, humour and music. Together with his own troupe of actors and local artists from Nuuk and Uummannaq, he will carry out a theatrical project on the world’s biggest island. Far from Europe’s centres of culture, Marthaler’s expedition will come into contact with Greenland’s forgotten stories, forgotten people and forgotten music.

The world premiere is in Nuuk 30 April 2011, after which the production will travel to Wiener Festwochen before coming to the Bergen International Festival on 4–7 June. In fall, the performance will be shown in Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm, with more venues to be added.

The inland ice is melting
With Greenland’s mythical world and traditions as a backdrop, this musical production will be a new arena in which different experiences and perspectives on the future meet and merge.
– To most Europeans Greenland is a magical place of eternal ice and true nature. In general, people know little about Greelanders and the island’s long and difficult history. Greenland is also the place where the inland ice is melting, and where the catastrophic consequences of the climatic changes are manifesting themselves and becoming visible as something other than an abstract phenomena, says Christoph Marthaler.

These conditions of life are what interest the Swiss director, and the unique sounds and conversations from this part of the world will form the core of this production.

A co-production between Bergen International Festival, Wiener Festwochen, the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, Volksbühne am-Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Stockholm’s Stadsteatern, Napoli Festival Teàtro Italia, Théàtre de la Ville in Paris and others.

Supported by Nordic Culture Point and Freedom of Expression Foundation
.

01 January 2011

Your greatest Wagner experience in 2010?



Happy New Year to all Wagner lovers! My greatest Wagner experiences in 2010 were the new productions of Tannhäuser (Stefan Herheim in Oslo) and Lohengrin (Hans Neuenfels / Andris Nelsons in Bayreuth).

What was your greatest Wagner experience in 2010?