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Reviews 2012

I won't go into detail with the production, because many of you will have seen one or both of the HD broadcasts to cinemas from the Met Opera. The main pleasure was the singing and, surprisingly, the acting, given that there was little acting in the earlier broadcasts. Bryn Terfel has really taken over the role of Wotan and seems to be taking pleasure in giving us his idea of how a god might act (in spite of his silly costume and wig!). His singing matches the subtlety and variety of his acting - or is it vice versa? He wasn't afraid to growl, howl, bellow or sing lyrically as the moment demanded - often all together, as when he unburdens his soul to Brunnhilde in Act II of Walkure. He brought out the emotional, loving side of Wotan much more than any other portrayal I've seen. He wasn't afraid to show vulnerability or fear and often reached out to touch a loved one, pulling back at the last moment - out of fear or pride? His scene with Erda in Act III of Walkure was one of the most physically intimate moment he allows himself to have with anyone, except the dying Siegmund, and of course the banished Brunnhilde. He was a joy to see and hear.

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Forthcoming Barry Millington Book The Sorcerer Of Bayreuth - Richard Wagner, His Work And His World

ISBN13: 9780199933761ISBN10: 0199933766Hardback, 320 pages.

Due for publication in October 2012.Price: $US39.95.

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On 8 July 2012, members of the Society welcomed well-known Wagner enthusiast Peter Bassett. Peter has marked the imminent 1813 celebrations by self-publishing Wagner and Verdi -1813: A Celebration. He explained, however, that he saw the supposed rivalry between the two great composers as a false dichotomy. Showing reproductions of the lavish illustrations in his book, he described the key differences in the circumstances of these two, linked together by their year of birth in two countries racked by war and political turbulence.

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During recent travels in Europe, my husband Gavin and I heard 3 opera performances, each memorable for different reasons. Parsifal at the Amsterdam Musiektheater, in June, was a deeply moving experience. Not just for the vocal strength and sincere portrayals by the ensemble, but also the atmospheric production by Pierre Audi. Nothing detracted from the story of the Grail, containing the blood of Christ, and the spear which pierced his side- the holy relics, guarded by King Titurel and the Knights at Montsalvat. The sombre lighting and minimal sets were the canvas for conductor Ivan Fisher's ethereal brush strokes and heartstopping climaxes. The music said it all, from Gurnemanz's tale, to Kundry's lament, to the entry of Parsifal, the holy fool and child of nature. The stranger was sung by a young and fresh voiced Christopher Ventris.

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Gotterdammerung in the Cotswolds: Now this was more like it.

After a frankly rather disappointing Ring in Munich where we witnessed the distraction of 80 dancers waving, writhing and prancing in every scene, we returned to the converted barn, which is the Opera House at Longborough, in the beautiful English countryside. Here we witnessed a chamber Gotterdammerung that was superbly sung and acted and allowed the music to speak for itself without any directorial interference.

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