February / June / October 2001
Welcome back to a new year that promises much for Wagner lovers. We look forward to three Opera productions, Lohengrin in Sydney, Parsifal in Adelaide and Tristan und Isolde in Melbourne. We have A Reserve block bookings for Lohengrin on 17 August and Tristan und Isolde on 23 November. An application form is included in this Newsletter. You may be interested to know that 16 members of the South Australian Wagner Society will join us in August and we have arranged a booking for 25 New Zealand Wagnerians for September.
After the great success of last year's Richard Wagner birthday lunch, we will return to the Women's Club and our guest speaker will be Rita Hunter, one of our Honorary Life Members and a great Brunnhilde.
Rosemary Cater-Smith and Alec Cater have offered to donate a weekend for two guest at their lovely home Catersfield at Pokolbin in the Hunter valley as a prize in the raffle at the birthday lunch. A second prize will be a donated Wagner watch. These are wonderful prizes and in particular we thank Rosemary and Alec for their generosity.
As well, Rosemary and Alec have offered Catersfield as a venue for a weekend seminar and those of you who attended our first Seminar in the Hunter will appreciate how gladly we accepted. Fortuitously, the same day I received their letter I also received an email from Simon Williams, a friend from America advising that he would be in Australia in July. A hectic round of phone calls and emails and we have arranged a Seminar on Parsifal in July.
You will find details in the Newsletter but I do suggest that if you are interested you send in your deposit as soon a possible because accommodation is limited. Simon will give lectures on Saturday morning and afternoon and there will be plenty of time for informal discussion. Simon has also agreed to speak at the Annual General Meeting in July and Warwick Fyfe and Stephen Mould are preparing a recital of new material for us, also for the AGM.
A third seminar - on Lohengin - has been arranged in conjunction with the Art Gallery of NSW on 4 August and details of speakers will be available in the next Newsletter.
The Committee has given long consideration to the views expressed by members at last year's AGM about the allocation of Bayreuth tickets. This review became urgent as a problem we have faced in previous years became a serious issue. Some members have applied to the Society for tickets at the same time as they applied direct to Bayreuth. The result was that several people allocated tickets at the Ballot subsequently advised that they no longer required their Society tickets. Reluctantly, the Committee decided that in future the cost of the tickets would be charged at the time of the application each year with refunds being given to those who are not successful. This is a common condition set by Wagner Societies in America and Europe and we hope that members will appreciate the necessity for its introduction.
Julian Block has joined the Committee as an additional member. He brings very welcome legal expertise to our deliberations.
I would like to remind members how important donations are to achieving our goal of promoting the works of Richard Wagner. This year the Society will be donating to the South Australian Opera Company, to sponsor Elaine McKrill in Parsifal, and to Opera Australia to support their production of Lohengrin. Donations to the Society are tax deductible, so help yourselves as well as the cause of Wagner.
23 February 2001
The last few months have been a very difficult and distressing time for the Committee, but I am glad to be able to tell you that there is reason to hope our problems may be resolved. We have recovered some of the financial books and certain admissions have been made. An offer of restitution has been received and arrangements for the return of the missing funds are being negotiated. It is hoped that this matter can be resolved within a few months, but at the same time the investigation of our financial affairs is continuing. I would like to thank all of you who rang or sent messages of support and offers of help to the Committee - they were greatly appreciated. The Committee has accepted the resignation of Mrs Olive Coonan as an Honorary Life Member of the Society.
On a happier note, we congratulate Francis Greep who is this year's winner of the Bayreuth Scholarship. Francis is a Repetiteur with Opera Australia and will study in Europe. We are delighted to assist him with a return airfare.
Our Annual Lunch to celebrate the birthday of Richard Wagner, whose music brings us all together, was held at the Women's Club on Sunday 20th May when 50 members gathered to enjoy a delicious meal. We thank the Committee of the Women's Club for making us so welcome and, in particular, Judy Hislop for her patience and helpfulness.
We are greatly indebted to Professor Routley from the Music Department of the University of Sydney, who agreed to be the speaker at our lunch at very short notice. His remarks on 'Parsifal and Ritual' were a great preparation for our Seminar in July at Catersfield and the performances of Parsifal in Adelaide later this year.
As usual, a highlight of the lunch was the raffle. Prizes were a weekend for two at Catersfield donated by Rosemary Cater-Smith and Alec Cater and won by Sandra Beesley, a Bayreuth Scarf donated by its designer, Donald Canpbell, and won by a very happy Leona Geeves. The Wagner watch was won by Robert and Margaret Woodward and a bottle of champagne by Miriam Harris. Our very grateful thanks to Rosemary and Alec and to Donald for their generosity.
Our next meeting is the Annual General Meeting to be held at 1:00pm on 15th July at the Goethe Institut. After the formal meeting we will enjoy a recital by Warwick Fyfe and Stephen Mould and a short talk by Professor Simon Williams from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Several of our members have advised us that they will not be renewing their membership because they find it too difficult to attend meetings. Included in this group are Nancy Williamson, Jack Floehl, John Heathers and George and Susan Amigo. We thank them for their support and wish them well. Their many friends here will miss them.
I would very much like to thank all those members who made a donation when renewing their memberships. Donations are tax deductible and enable us to support performances of Wagner's works such as Parsifal in Adelaide where we are sponsoring Rosalind Martin as a Flowermaiden and Squire. We will make a donation to Opera Australia's Lohengrin.
Barbara McNulty, President
22 May 2001
Since our last meeting we have enjoyed the recent Lohengrin performances. It was wonderful to hear Glen Winslade in such good voice after so many years and to welcome back Bernadette Cullen and John Wegner both of whom sang wonderfully. Lisa Harper-Brown sang her first Elsa well and acted the part very convincingly though many members found her voice a little 'thin' particularly in the second act. Those of us lucky enough to be at the final performance heard the role of Elsa sung by Nicole Youl and were delighted to hear a richer, fuller voice which we had missed earlier.
A few nights ago we also enjoyed the Wagner Concert given by the Ballet and Opera Orchestra conducted by Simone Young. Lisa Gasteen, Bernadette Cullen and Horst Hoffmann sang excerts from Tristan and Isolde and we realised how long it is since we have seen this opera. We congratulate everyone concerned. It was a great concert and we really enjoyed the encoreValkeries in full cry.
Many of us went to Adelaide for Parsifal and the consensus was that they were excellent performances. Musically and vocally they left nothing to be desired and if some had minor problems with some of the production details these did not detract from the overall pleasure of our first Australian Parsifal - we have waited a long time. We congratulate the State Opera of South Australia and all involved and are very proud to have been able to have played a small part in their success.
Sadly we record the death of Betty Maloney, one of our Foundation Members, who had fought a long battle against cancer. She was an inspiration to all who knew her and will be very sadly missed. Our deepest sympathy goes to her husband, Reg and sister, Jean Walker. A report on her Memorial service, by Terence Watson, will be found in this Newsletter.
I particularly want to thank all those Members who have made donations. These are the basis of the help we are able to offer to Opera Companies and Orchestras performing Wagnerian works and as we are always asking for more performances it is essential that we build up our donation account, particularly with a Ring Cycle to look forward to in 2004.
The support of all our members through the last few months has been very heartening and there is no doubt that our Society will survive despite our difficulties. I regret to report that there has been no recovery of the missing funds and the investigation is continuing.
I hope to see a large audience at our November meeting when Professor Bashir assisted by three other psychiatrists will examine the psychological profiles of a number of Ring characters. And of course our Christmas party in December when we will once again ask you to come and bring a plate.