President's Reports 1985

March / May / September / December 1985


March 1985
The format of the functions planned for 1985 have, as you will have noticed, changed somewhat, in order to maximise attendance, optimise member benefits and provide a convivial atmosphere for mixing and socialising whilst still adding to the "Wagnerian Experience".

In the past the small attendance at functions has been a big worry to your Committee who put in so much effort in arranging them. Now, with the elimination of admission fees for members whenever possible, there should be little reason for anyone to stay away.

Membership in the Wagner Society gives many benefits and demands few obligations - namely, supporting the functions, and recruiting as many new members as you can. The larger the membership the easier it is for the Society to achieve its aims and objectives. In this, our fifth year, we are unfortunately obliged to raise the membership subscription rate for the first time, to cover the expenses of the Newsletter, meetings and routine administrative matters. The cost of providing the various functions through the year will not be covered from subscriptions, so we must look to other traditional ways of raising money, namely donations and the raffle.

Tax deductible donations are perhaps the ideal way of showing your appreciation for the work of the Society. Since the final cost to you is between 30 to 50 percent of what you pay, you can afford to give generously, at least the equivalent, say,of what you would have paid in entry fees to functions, had they been made.

Even if every member donated $10.00 per year the resulting amount would be close to our commitment to the Bayreuth Scholarship. Just setting aside 10 or 15 cents a day - that loose change in your pocket or in the bottom of your purse - makes a worthwhile annual gift. Acknowledgement of members' generosity will be made in the Newsletter, unless the donor wishes to remain anonymous.

For those who like the excitement of a gamble - or do not need the tax deduction - the Annual Raffle gives the chance to win a nice gift. The draw will be made at the Annual Dinner and always provides an exciting moment. Try to interest your music-loving friends into buying some tickets.

Remember, the functions are organised for you and your friends to enjoy and to profit from. If the success of our first two activities this year is a guide, you will really be missing out on something if you don't attend the coming events.

Leonard A. Hansen


President's Annual Report, May 1985
The activities of the Wagner Society over the past year have once again been numerous and varied. There were in fact 10 functions organised - excluding the annual general meetings and dinners - although only nine were to become reality, due to the unfortunate collapse of the Canberra Opera. Their concert performances of The Flying Dutchman, in which our member, Nance Grant, was to star as Senta - were cancelled, which was not only another blow for Wagner in Australia, but a big disappointment for many of our members for whom we had organised a very entertaining weekend.

In July of last year Stuart Challender talked to us about the development of the orchestra and Wagner's special use of it. This meeting was our first at the Goethe Institute which has proved to be a very popular and successful venue for us. Our thanks go to the Director, Mr. Peter Reitz, for making the facilities available, and I should remind members that the library, which includes audio and video recording is at their disposal.

Our second speaker at the Goethe Institute was Professor Michael Ewans who spoke on "Wagner and his Successors", a beautifully researched and presented review of Wagner's influence on the music and drama of Janacek and Debussy. We are very happy to reward Dr. Ewans with Honorary Life Membership for his most generous support of our Society, and his great contribution to the understanding of Wagner's works.

June and July saw us attending parts of the Ring - Siegfried in Melbourne and Rheingold in Sydney - as we did in March this year for Walkure - the tragic end to the A.O.'s aborted Ring Cycle. Despite our verbal and financial encouragement the A.O. has dealt this terrible blow to Wagner in Australia, and as a result, our donation has been limited to $1,000 to aid in the production of the set of posters.

The final function in 1984 was an evening at the home of Denis Condon listening to a small sample of his incredible collection of piano-roll music.

1985 began with our two most successful functions ever - the reception and recital for Leonie Rysanek, and the concert recital by Horst Hoffmann at the Great Hall of Sydney University. Both events produced music of a high standard whilst providing a happy atmosphere for members to meet and mingle.

Our most recent functions - video evening and a record sale - did not attract a large attendance, but they were thoroughly enjoyed by those who did turn up.

The highlights of this coming year's program will revolve around the V.S.O.'s Melbourne production of 'Lohengrin' and the concert performance of 'Elektra' in Sydney. Your participation in these future activities is earnestly encouraged.

Our library and archival material is building up gradually. A recent bequest contained 25 programmes and documents from the 1950's and 60's, giving a vivid picture of the Bayreuth of that era.

It has been my great pleasure to lead your Society for yet another year, but I could not do it without your support and especially the loyalty and hard work of the Committee members:

  • Richard King - Vice President and Co-editor, at whose residence all our monthly committee meetings are held.
  • Joe and Judy Ferfoglia - who shared the tremendous task of financial control and membership detailing.
  • Jean Byrne - Secretary - for her immaculate typing and book keeping.
  • Sue Kelly - Public Relations
  • Janet Wayland - Co-editor
  • Michel Arnould - Minutes Secretary
  • Murray Smith - Assistant Treasurer

It is a tribute to them all that our membership is at its present high level and our financial position is so strong.

I am confident that with your continued support the Wagner Society can go forward, secure in its established position on the cultural scene.

Leonard Hansen


September 1985
To judge from the attendence and enthusiasm at "The Ring on Video" during July and August these functions have been a great success. Not only have many members had the opportunity to experience a full Ring Cycle for the first time, but they have been able to become better acquainted with their fellow members during the pleasant luncheon and tea breaks. Many requests were made for further screenings so, with the good grace of the director of the Goethe we have been able to do just that. Details of the operas to be shown will be found elsewhere in
the Newsletter.

We should soon be hearing from our lucky colleagues who have been attending the Bayreuth Festival. Among the travellers were the Co-editor of the Newsletter, the Secretary and Treasurer, so we can expect a very interesting December issue. Meanwhile a skeleton staff has tried to bring out an issue which will keep up your interest in the society's activities. Your attention is directed at the instructions on obtaining tickets for Bayreuth, so that next year a larger group may be able to attend.

Recommendations made at the last Annual General Meeting to upgrade the Newsletter while containing costs have been followed up, and this is our first attempt. Please let us know how you find it, and if you have any suggestions. Do come along to the films at the Goethe Institute, and talk to your committee members about it.

See you there!

Leonard Hansen


December 1985
With the first performance of the Victorian State Opera's new production of "LOHENGRIN" on the 20th November not only was a dream realised but also an example set.

The dream was that of Robert Salzer, treasurer of the Richard Wagner Society in Victoria, to sponsor a Wagnerian opera, and so restore the music of his beloved composer once more to the repertoire of his city's opera house. With the resources of his large construction company behind him he was able to confidently involve his local Wagner Society in to a commitment of co-sponsorship. Such was the enthusiasm of the members for the project that the target of $50,000 in donations was reached. Not bad for a group of little more than 200 members, indicating that they gave around $250 each.

The actual theatrical performance cannot fail to impress, and there is a grand sound from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in the pit. Certainly on the first night there was 'the usual' nervousness in the cast, and the odd technical hitch, but future audiences will see a very polished performance indeed, of international standard.

The success of this "LOHENGRIN" has ensured its restageing in Sydney in 1987, a fact of which you as contributors to and supporters of the original production can be very proud. The extent of our involvement with the future production - sung in German, with Horst Hoffmann and Leonie Rysanek - will depend on your enthusiasm and willingness to show support, not just in good attendance, but by substantial donations.

Considering that the Australian Opera also has "DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NURNBERG" scheduled for its Bi-Centennial program in 1988, now is the time for us to plan for these projects - setting very definite goals in the fund-raising and promotional areas. Is there a member with skills in these activities to come forward and lead the society in a concerted campaign? The credibility of our Wagner Society will depend on how prominently it is seen to support these two operas.

During the next 12 months I will be away from Australia so am handing over my reigns of office to Vice-President Richard King who will be acting president until the annual general meeting in May, when new elections for committee take place. It has been a very great pleasure to be your president for the past five years, a task made easier by the unstinting help of the committee and volunteers. My very sincere thanks go to all of these people. My reward has been to see the satisfaction and enjoyment of the work of the society expressed by so many members.

With the Season's Greetings

Leonard Hansen