President's Reports 2003

March / May/ September / October 2003

 

March 2003
Welcome back after what I hope has been a safe and restful New Year break.

Elke Neidhardt

At our November 2002 function, Elke Neidhardt answered questions about her 2004 production of the Ring in Adelaide, and gave us an insight into the process of direction an opera. (Terence Watson's review is elsewhere in this issue.) Ms Neidhardt began by challenging us with a question of her own - why do Wagner Societies exist, and why do their members hold views with such passion? After all, she suggested, Wagner was not the greatest composer that ever lived - most would accept that Mozart or Beethoven had more right to that title - and yet these composers do not attract such militant bands of devotees. To us, of course, the question is rhetorical and slightly bemusing - how can anyone who has experienced Wagner's music not be passionate about it?

End of year party, and "Friends"

Our last function in 2002 was our annual end-of-year party, at which we honoured six members as "Friends of the Wagner Society in NSW". They are Sue Kelly (member number 4), Janet Wayland (10), Clare Hennessy (19), Margaret Hennessy (19A), Barbara Brady (380) and Shirley Robertson (416). We sometimes forget that our Society exists today through the hard work, commitment and loyalty of our "Friends", and the committee determined to formally acknowledge this by introducing these awards, which we hope to make annually.

Hildegard Perini and Amana Finlay

I regret to report that two of our members, Hildegard Perini and Amana Finlay, have passed away. Hilde joined the Society in February 1985, and although frail regularly came to our functions. Barbara McNulty attended her funeral on behalf of members.

Wagner performances in Australia in 2003

Looking ahead, there are three major Wagner highlights in 2003. In Perth in February, there were two performances of Gotterdammerung which were the centrepiece of the 50th Perth International Arts Festival. (My review is elsewhere in this issue.) In Sydney on March 27 and 29, Edo de Waart will give his last Wagner concert as chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the "Ride of the Valkyries", and in July Simone Young will conduct a re-staged Meistersinger at the Capitol Theatre, which will be her farewell Wagner work as musical director of Opera Australia.

The Society has given donations to each of these events - $2,000 for the Perth Gotterdammerung, $2,000 for the SSO's Wagner gala, and $3,000 for OA's Meistersinger.

2003 membership renewals and Society functions and theatre bookings

As a result of changes to our rules at our last AGM, in 2003 we are changing our financial and membership year to a calendar year. As part of that changeover, membership renewals in 2003 will be for 9 months only, from 1 April to 31 December 2003, and therefore the cost of renewing your membership will be three quarters of the previous annual membership fee.

Your 2003 membership renewal form is on the inside back cover of this issue of the Newsletter. Please complete it and mail it with your cheque or money order to the address shown on the form. You can also use this form to book tickets for our annual Wagner Birthday function on Friday 23 May, for our joint Meistersinger seminar with the Art Gallery of NSW on Sunday 7 June, and for our seminar and group booking for Meistersinger on Saturday 5 July; details are below.

We are going to use the inside back cover of the Newsletter more and more for forms like this, instead of posting them separately to each of you. We hope that this will reduce our administration costs and allow us to use your membership fees and donations more effectively in supporting the Society's aims, with our donations to local Wagner performances, our support of the Bayreuth Scholarship, and our regular functions and seminars.

From 2004, memberships will be for a full calendar year.

Friday 23 May - commemorative dinner for Wagner's birthday

In 2003 we commemorate both the 190th anniversary of Wagner's birth in Leipzig on 22 May 1813, and the 120th anniversary of his death in Venice on 13 February 1883.

This year to commemorate his birth, we are having a dinner at the Women's Club on level 4, 179 Elizabeth Street, Sydney 2000 on Friday 23 May at 6pm for 6.30pm. Our guest speaker will be Bill Gillespie, OAM, the general manager of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Bill was formerly the director of the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and was Artistic Director of the 1998 Adelaide Ring. The cost per place for a 3-course dinner plus wine is $66, and you can book for this using the form on the inside back cover of this Newsletter.

Saturday 7 June - Meistersinger Seminar at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

The Art Gallery of NSW and the Wagner Society are jointly organising a Meistersinger seminar on Saturday 7 June. There will be four speakers, including Antony Ernst and art historian Arthur Lawrence, whose talk is entitled "Glories of Nuremberg through the rose-tinted spectacles of German romanticism and the effect on Wagner". The seminar starts in the Art Gallery theatre with registration and morning tea at 10am, and finishes at 3.30pm.

The cost, including morning tea and lunch, is $50 for members and $55 for non-members, and you can book using the form on the inside back cover of this Newsletter. Further information will be available closer to the date in the June Newsletter and on our website.

Saturday 5 July - Seminar and Theatre group for Meistersinger

We have reserved 60 A-reserve tickets to the performance of Meistersinger on Saturday 5 July in the Capitol Theatre, starting at 4pm. These tickets are $165 for members, which is a discount of $30 on the normal full price.

Prior to the performance, we are organising a joint seminar in conjunction with a theatre group from the Wagner Society of New Zealand, which is attending the same performance. The group from New Zealand will be led by that Society's president, Professor Heath Lees, who will be the main speaker at the seminar. Those of you who attended a similar seminar prior to a performance of Tannhauser in 1998 will remember Professor Lees as very knowledgeable and fascinating presenter.

The seminar will begin at 10am at the State Library in Macquarie Street and finish at 2pm, giving ample time to get to the Capitol Theatre by 4pm. The cost, including lunch, is $35, and you can book using the form on the inside back cover of the Newsletter. Further information on the venue and seminar program will be available closer to the date in the June Newsletter and on our website.

Sponsorship of the Adelaide Ring in 2004

A number of roles in the 2004 Adelaide do not have sponsors. Currently, we have agreed to donate $10,000 to sponsor Stuart Skelton in the role of Siegmund, but we would like to be able to further support the State Opera of South Australia by sponsoring another major artist. If you are interested in helping us raise money for this, please consider making an appropriate donation to the Society when you renew your membership. Remember, all donations over $2 are tax deductible, and are receipted and acknowledged in our Newsletter.

2003 promises to be an interesting year, although a sad one with the double farewells of Simone Young and Edo de Waart. We will have to wait and see whether their successors have the same passion and commitment to Wagner and his music as Young and De Waart.

Roger Cruickshank
22 February 2003

 

May 2003
Recent Functions

2003 marks both the 190th anniversary of Wagner's birth, and the 120th anniversary of his death. Our inaugural function in February was a talk by Professor Michael Ewans entitled "Wagner in Perspective - 120 Years after the Master's Death", which surveyed the range of his contributions, the passionate views for and against which he still arouses, and his continuing relevance. Professor Ewans is an honorary life member of the Society, and his talk - which itself aroused some passionate responses - will be published as an occasional paper to mark this year's importance for us. Professor Ewans has just completed a book entitled "The Greeks in Opera", and I'll let you know when this is available.

To prepare for this year's major Wagner event in Sydney, Opera Australia's production of "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg", at our March function weshowed a DVD of Götz Friedrich's production for the Deutsche Oper Berlin,conducted by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos. This was the first DVD we have shown using the Goethe Institut's new audiovisual equipment, and the increased clarity of the picture and sound when compared with the videos we have shown was astounding. In response to frequent requests, the DVD was shown with English subtitles, which I found to be a mixed blessing. Sitting at the back of the room I could hardly read them through all the heads in front bobbing and weaving, and in the end I gave up trying. Our thanks to Cecilia Segura, who provided the DVD.

The traditional Palm Sunday Parsifal meeting this year was a little untraditional, with a talk by Antony Ernst in place of a video production. While Antony demurred when I introduced him as "controversial", his talk inspired some heated debate during our normally placid afternoon tea. Antony discussed aspects of a number of possible interpretations, including Kundry's Jewish past as Herodias, the sin of mixed blood (Kundry's with Parsifal's pure Aryan), Titurel as God the Father (and his Nietzschean death), Amfortas as Christ, the Redeemer redeemed. One member has responded to some of the issues Antony discussed, and this may appear in a future issue of the Newsletter.

Future functions

We will not be having functions at the Goethe Institut in September or November. In September, members are invited to attend a master class to be given on Tuesday 9 September at the NSW Conservatorium of Music by the renowned Wagnerian bass, Sir Donald McIntyre. Sir Donald is a guest speaker at a Ring Cycle seminar in Adelaide on the weekend of September 6 and 7, which has been organized by the State Opera of South Australia as part of their preparation for the 2004 Adelaide Ring, and will be in Sydney after the seminar on his way back to New Zealand. The master class will be open to the public, and the cost will be $10 for Wagner Society members. More details of the master class will be available in the Winter Newsletter which will be mailed out in August.

On Sunday 16 November, we will hold our function at the premises of Mr Denis Condon, 47 Station Street, Newtown. Mr Condon has an extensive collection of pianos and rolls - Ampico, Duo-Art, Welte (red, green and licensee) - and a Yamaha Disklavier. Some members will recall a similar function held in 1994, when Mr Condon gave an introduction to mechanical musical reproduction, and played piano rolls of works by Wagner and his contemporaries. This is a unique resource loving preserved, and I hope that you will make the most of this opportunity to listen to these unique recorded performances.

Edo de Waart's farewell Wagner performance

A theatre party from the Society attended the final Wagner performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Edo de Waart. Entitled "Ride of the Valkyries", the concert included the Siegfried Idyll and a concert performance of the third Act of Die Walkure. I exhausted my superlatives for the Perth Gotterdammerung performances in February, and didn't expect to have to dust them off again this year, but I was very wrong. With Elizabeth Connell and Bruce Martin (standing in at short notice), and the SSO in unusually fine form, the performance was superb. I was a tourist to Sydney in the 80s when I first saw Martin's Wotan in the Walkure with Rita Hunter, which was the final stage of the ill-fated AO Ring, and those memories came flooding back. I am looking forward to hearing his Hans Sachs! For a concert performance, there were moments of real emotion, for example when Elizabeth Connell looked tenderly into Bruce Martin's eyes and briefly took his hand, before he musically kissed away her divinity. But the evening belonged to Edo de Waart, who has in his 10 year tenure with the SSO brought quality Wagner to a wide Australian audience. In this farewell performance, I was almost willing to forgive him his love affair with off-stage microphones and gimmickry, which I found so annoying in the past. Bruce Martin didn't need a microphone to sing "Steh, Brunnhild!" off-stage, and we didn't need the electronic sounds of thunder either. I was overcome with such affection for de Waart by the end of the performance that I almost willed him to annoy me one last time by filling the Concert Hall with the soft glow of Loge's fire licking the insides of those great sails - and he didn't! We must wait and see whether his successor keeps Wagner in the SSO's repertoire and at the same intensity.

The strange case of Herr Wagner's Steinway

2003 is the 150th anniversary year for Steinway pianos, and three historical Steinways made a brief visit to Sydney, being displayed in the foyer of the Angel Place Recital Hall on May 28 and 29. At first we were told that one of these historical Steinways was currently owned by the Wagner family and had been played by Richard Wagner in the late 1870s, but this couldn't be confirmed. The Steinway people suggested that this piano be delivered to the birthday dinner at the Women's Club, but the dinner was held on the day the pianos arrived in Sydney, and this dream arrangement did not eventuate.

Doctor Michael Bookalil

I regret to report that one of our foundation members, Doctor Michael Bookalil, has passed away. Doctor Bookalil joined the Society on 26 October 1980, and was member number 2.

Membership renewals

A reminder to those of you who have not renewed that now is the time to do so.

"Mark-up" on theatre bookings

When we organise theatre parties to concerts, we generally add a small handling fee and donation to the Society, which is included in the cost of tickets for members. In the past these amounts may not have been clearly disclosed, and some members have asked why there has been a discrepancy between the price we charge and the cost shown on the tickets they receive. For example, members pay $165 for our theatre party tickets to Meistersinger on 5 July. We will pay Opera Australia $156 for each ticket, and the balance, $9, is a handling fee / donation for the Society. In future, we will disclose the actual ticket costs and associated fee / donation.

Roger Cruickshank
20 May 2003

 

September 2003
Recent Functions

Since our last Newsletter, we have held two seminars on Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, which was staged in July by Opera Australia at Sydney's Capitol Theatre, which will soon be its home while the Opera Theatre is refurbished.

The first seminar, jointly sponsored by the Art Gallery Society, was held on Saturday 7 June in the Domain Theatre at the Art Gallery. The first opened with Arthur Lawrence, an art historian who specialises in the Italian Renaissance, speaking about Nuremberg's other famous son from thatperiod, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), a contemporary of the historical Hans Sachs (1494-1576). He read from some of Dürer’s letters, including a detaileddescription of a procession of Guild members in Holland which could have been a model for the act three procession in Meistersinger.

Antony Ernst was both our second and third speakers, filling a last-minute vacancy caused by ill-health. He spoke first on historical and then on interpretational aspects of Meistersinger. I hope Antony won't mind my sharing an amusing moment from his talks. Some of you may remember a speaker at an earlier seminar who referred inadvertently to the "World Ash- Tray" from which Wotan cut a branch to carve his Spear. Antony, referring to the historical Sach's peripatetic existence, called him the "Miss Marple" of the Northern Renaissance. In a moment of mental abstraction, for which I never can forgive myself (as Miss Prism put it so well) I was suddenly seized with the vision of Bruce Martin in drag as Margaret Rutherford (who on film was both Misses Marple and Prism). I will take these images to my grave.

Our final speaker was Dr Sally Kester, a Perth-based music reviewer, part- time lecturer and Jungian psychoanalyst in private practice, who spoke on the psychology of the Shadow in Meistersinger. Dr Kester lived her talk to the full, ending by reading a dark portrait of Richard Wagner and the shadows which attended his genius.

My thanks to our speakers, to Craig Brush, the functions manager for the Art Gallery, and to the Art Gallery Society and its volunteers, who made the seminar such a success.

The second seminar was held on Saturday 5 July at the State Library, where Professor Heath Lees, president of the Wagner Society of New Zealand, who came with a group of members from that Society, spoke on the musicology of Meistersinger. Professor Lees' lecture, which was initially beset by technical challenges as we fought to gain mastery of the venue's technology, dovetailed perfectly with the matinee of Meistersinger most of us attended later that afternoon.

All of you, I hope, attended at least one performance of Meistersinger, so I will spare you my thoughts on the performance, save one. I am not a devotee of Meistersinger, but the third act of the performance I attended included sublime music, magnificently sung, bringing my handkerchief out on more than one occasion to clear a path for fresh tears. I have been told that at other performances there were understudies on stage, or that the principals were in poor voice, but nothing like that happened that evening. Although I was not emotionally engaged by the work, Wagner's subtle musical genius still worked its magic in the oddest ways. Infuriatingly, I woke for days afterwards with bits of Meistersinger in my head, but that condition has passed. Today it was the Dutchman.

On 20 July, we held our AGM, and afterwards watched video extracts from the 1982/83 season of the Vienna State Opera, which included breathtaking performances from great singers in their prime, mostly now retired. It was a much more exciting afternoon than it sounds.

Future functions

Next month, members are invited to attend a master class to be given by Sir Donald McIntyre on Thursday 11 September. 

Sir Donald McIntyre most recently appeared in Australia as Alberich in two concert performances of Gotterdammerung in February 2003 in Perth. He debuted at Bayreuth in 1967 as the Telramund in Lohengrin, and in 1976 sang Wotan to great acclaim in the Centennial Ring at Bayreuth, controversially produced by Patrice Chereau's and conducted by Pierre Boulez.

Sir Donald is a guest speaker at a Ring seminar in Adelaide from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 September, organised by the State Opera of South Australia. He was to have been accompanied by his wife on this visit, but unfortunately because of ill health Lady McIntyre will remain in England. The Society has given a donation of $2,000 to the State Opera of South Australia to assist with Sir Donald's expenses.

In October at the Goethe Institut, Terence Watson will give the first of a series of talks by different speakers about aspects of the Ring, in preparation for next year's second Adelaide Ring. We are are in the early stages of discussions with the State Opera of South Australia about sponsoring a recital by Phillip Kang here in Sydney next year, and are planning to organise a weekend seminar for everyone from New South Wales who is going to Adelaide which Mr Kang is here. Watch our Newsletters for further information.

In November, we will hold a function at the premises of Mr Denis Condon, 47 Station Street, Newtown. Mr Condon has a passion for music and a unique collection of pianos and rolls which are lovingly preserved, and I hope that you will make the most of this opportunity to visit this collection and listen to these unique recorded performances.

Sydney Conservatorium of Music

We are always looking for ways in which we can help young artists setting out on their careers, and recently I met Sharolyn Kimmorley, who heads the Opera Unit at the Conservatorium, to discuss ways in which we could form an association between our two organisations. We congratulate Sharolyn on winning the 2003 Bayreuth Scholarship, which she will take up in November. As usual, the Society will pay the scholar's return airfare to Europe.

There will be two excellent opportunities over the next few months for you to hear students from the Opera Unit at this early stage of their careers. Some will perform songs by Mozart, Bellini, Wolf, Debussy, Puccini, Strauss and Britten for the National Lieder Society on Saturday 16th August at 7.30pm at St. Luke's Presbyterian Church, 28 Lord Street, Roseville. Tickets are $12 ($8 concession) and the number for enquiries is 9924 4860. Then on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 October, students will perform the "Marriage of Figaro" (in English) at 7.30pm in the Music Workshop at the Conservatorium. Tickets are $25 ($20 Concession/Foundation) and for enquiries and bookings you should phone 9351 1342.

I hope that many of you will be able to get to one of these concerts, to support these exciting young artists. Our March 2000 meeting was at the ABC's Eugene Goosens Hall, and was a Wagner concert - with music from both Richard and Siegfried - given by the student orchestra from the Conservatorium of Music under Maestro Cillario. This included extracts from Lohengrin which showed the quality of performance that these young students can achieve.

Following my discussions with Sharolyn Kimmorley, I will soon be putting some practical proposals to your Committee, including providing a number of scholarships to allow students from the Opera Unit to complete intensive German language courses at the Goethe Institut, and making a donation to the Opera Unit to support its concert and performance programme during the year. As a "quid pro quo", we can expect to hear some of these students performing at our Goethe Institut functions from time to time.

Roger Cruickshank

 

October 2003
Recent Events

Our September event was a master class given by Sir Donald McIntyre at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. With Andrew Greene accompanist, three students from the Conservatorium - David Greco, Caroline Wenborne and Jessica Pratt - and Opera Australia's Warwick Fyfe worked with Sir Donald on their chosen arias. Anyone at the master class who was unaware of the depth of talent of the student-singers at the Conservatorium would have been blown away by these outstanding performances, a point which Sir Donald made several times.

Sir Donald's advice seemed simple but proved to be difficult, as advice from an old hand often is; be prepared, have the first word ready in your mouth, breath from your thighs, project your voice. Warwick Fyfe, who grows in stature with each new role with OA, chose Rigoletto's aria "Pari siamo". David Greco sang Papageno's aria "Papagena, Papagena, Papagena!" (watched with great interest by Warwick Fyfe, who will sing the role in next year's Opera Australia production); Caroline Wenborne sang Else's aria "Einsam in truben tagen"; and Jessica Pratt chose "Si mi chia mano Mimi" from La Boheme.

After the master class, Sharolyn Kimmorley (Chair, Opera Studies Unit at the Conservatorium) and I had dinner with Sir Donald, who was flying to New Zealand early the next morning. He mentioned that, for five years in the 1970s, the McIntyre family lived in Bayreuth in the upstairs apartment of Haus Siegfried, next door to Haus Wahnfried. His landlady during this period was Frau Winifred Wagner, who lived downstairs. Each year, Frau Wagner dined twice with the McIntyres, once downstairs in her rooms, and once upstairs in theirs.

After his visit to New Zealand (he is the Patron of the Wagner Society in New Zealand) Sir Donald returned to England via Hawaii, where he was looking forward to receiving a copy of a new book of essays in tribute to Wolfgang Wagner, written to mark the 50th anniversary on New Bayreuth in 2001, to which he had contributed a chapter. Sir Donald is an ardent admirer of Wolfgang Wagner.

Sir Donald possesses a wealth of information and stories about Bayreuth, the development of Wagner performances in the last 40 years or so, and the great singers and artists he has met along the way, including members of the Wagner family. I only hope that as much of this as possible finds its way into an autobiography or some similar work, so that his impressive oral history isn't lost.

On Friday 17 October, I was lucky to attend the opening night of the Marriage of Figaro performed by singers and musicians from the Sydney Conservatorium. I arrived ticket-less to find that evening's performance sold out, as were the remaining two performances, but I made it inside through Sharolyn Kimmorley's kindness. Sung in English (limited rehearsal time didn't allow the singers to learn their parts in Italian) the performances were bright, sharp and irreverent. I hadn't seen a Count snorting coke while he sang before - people say I need to get out more - and for once the casting incongruity was the sight of young singers made up as aged persons, and not the reverse! A wonderful night of superb performances. Make a note in your diaries to catch next year's sell-out performances of whatever these amazing students turn their talents to!

On Sunday 19 October, we returned to the Goethe Institut for a talk by Dr Terence Watson entitled "Wagner and Power - Part 2 - Gesellschaft und Gemeinschaft". I was trapped in the projection room, where I could hear very little and see even less, struggling with technology - Terence liberally illustrated his talk with extracts from DVDs - and losing the fight. At one stage everything - the speaker's microphone, DVD and video players - blew. That's a technical term for an event which is often accompanied by unprintable utterances. Luckily, turning everything off, counting backwards from 100, and turning it all back on again, restored us to full sound.

I'm hopeful that Terence will find a way of providing a text-only version of his talk, which we can publish before next year's Adelaide Ring.

Future functions

On Sunday 16 November, we will hold a function at the premises of Mr Denis Condon, 47 Station Street, Newtown. Mr Condon has a passion for music and a unique collection of pianos and rolls which are lovingly preserved, and I hope that you will make the most of his generosity to visit Denis's collection and listen to these unique recorded performances. Denis says that his room normally seats 30, although this can stretch to 45. After that, it will be a squeeze, but everyone who comes should be comfortable. My advice is to be early. Station Street runs between Enmore Road and King Street, a short distance south of the Newtown train station, and afternoon tea will be served.

On Sunday 7 December, we have our final function of the year, at the Goethe Institut - our end-of-year party. We will be showing a video about New York's private Amato Opera Company, a labour of love for Sally and Anthony Amato. The video shows the pleasure the Amatos got and gave by following their dream without compromise. We may also have a short video taken by one of our members at the Festspielhaus this year.

Interested in joining the committee?

Since Barbara McNulty stepped down from the position at our AGM in July, we have been without an honorary secretary. Are you interested in the role? The duties aren't exceptionally onerous, there are usually between four and six committee meetings a year (including the AGM) and your fellow committee members are a friendly lot. Give me a call on 9357 7631, and let's talk about it.

As many of you will know, Barbara is currently "out of action", convalescing after a successful operation. Her irrepressible energy has been stilled by doctor's orders, and Barbara will be at home for the next month or so, plotting more delights for the over-subscribed tour she is leading to New York next April and May for the Metropolitan Opera's very tradition Ring Cycle. Health insurance is not a prerequisite for anyone interested in joining the committee as secretary, but it helps.

Membership renewals

Our financial year is now the calendar year, so membership renewals are now due for 2004. Just complete the form at the back of this Newsletter and post it, with your cheque, to the Society.

This is the time that we remind you that your Society is a registered charity, and therefore donations of more than $2 are tax deductible.

Your donations, and money left over from membership subscriptions after we have paid for our operating costs, including the cost of our Newsletter and website, are used to meet the Society's aims, for example by sponsoring performances of Wagner's works, individual singers, and the Bayreuth Scholar.

In 2004 we will make a donation towards Opera Australia's revival of the Flying Dutchman in February, we will sponsor Jennifer Barnes in the role of Grimgerde in the 2004 Adelaide Ring (in addition to Stuart Skelton, in the role of Siegfried), and we will support four singers from the Sydney Conservatorium who will be taking German language courses at the Goethe Institut. These are Erin O'Connor, Emily Garth, Rebecca Hilder and Jessica Pratt (who took part in Sir Donald McIntyre's master class.)

Looking forward to 2004

One direct benefit to Society members from our support of these singers is that they will return the favour - they will perform for us. Although we haven't finalised all the arrangements yet, we're hopeful of having short recitals next year from a range of singers and artists. This includes, as well as the four Conservatorium students listed above, Miriam Gordon-Stuart, whose Eva in this year's performances of Meistersinger by Opera Australia was such a delight. (We've recently provided funding for Miriam, who is currently in Germany for five weeks taking voice classes.)

We're also in negotiations with some former Bayreuth Scholars, who we hope will be able to speak to us and sing as part of our programme next year.

We're planning a seminar on the Ring for those attending the Adelaide Ring next year, to coincide with a recital to be given in Sydney by Phillip Kang, whose visit to Sydney we will help sponsor. Details of the venue, date and programme will be advised later.

As we go to print, the programme for the first half of next year is not yet finalised, but when you renew your membership I'll post you out the programme, along with your membership cards and receipts.

Looking back on 2003

2003 isn't over yet, but it has been a tumultuous year. It has seen Edo de Waart's last year as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and, sadly for many, Simone Young's last year as Music Director with Opera Australia. Both have been passionate supporters of Wagner's works and their uncompromising standards in Wagner performance have enriched the musical life of Sydney and beyond. We wish them both well in their future musical careers, and must wait to see what level of commitment their successors will have to Wagner's works.

In 2003 we commemorate both the 190th anniversary of Wagner's birth in Leipzig on 22 May 1813, and the 120th anniversary of his death in Venice on 13 February 1883. Our inaugural function in February 2003 was a talk by Professor Michael Ewans entitled "Wagner in Perspective - 120 Years after the Master's Death". Professor Ewans provided us with a copy of his talk, which is reprinted in this Newsletter, although references to the musical examples which accompanied Professor Ewans' talk have been deleted.

Finally, I wish each of you a very happy and safe holiday season and New Year, and the very best for 2004. I look forward to seeing you at Denis Condon's on 16 November, and at our end-of-year function on 7 December.

Roger Cruickshank
30 October 2003