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Views 2010

Views from the Society about matters relating to Wagner in 2010.

Wagner's Unfinished French Revolution Operas

Männerlist größer als Frauenlist oder: Die glückliche Bärenfamilie, and Die hohe Braut oder Bianca und Giuseppe - Peter Bassett

For members who unfortunately missed Peter’s talk that opened this year’s Society’s activities, this article is part of his longer talk about the opera’s that Wagner never wrote. Ed

A PDF version of this article is available to registered members

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Mark Twain's Travel Letters From 1891-92

Extracted from the Chicago Daily Tribune, December 6, 1891 [Often retitled 'At the Shrine of St. Wagner'] A report on Parsifal.

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Redemption in Ten Dimensions. Stefan Herheims's Bayreuth Parsifal

Dr Jim Leigh

Part I of a three part exposition and introduction for audience members of the current Bayreuth production

(Parts 1 and 2 are now available to Registered users - 

The Bayreuth Parsifal performance of 27 August 2009 was the tenth time I had seen a staged performance (not counting the 1982 Syberberg film or the Sydney 1977 concert performance under [Carlo Felice] Cillario). This time I saw the production from the centre of Row 1 in the stalls. These were the best seats I have ever had at Bayreuth. The current Bayreuth production was first seen in 2008 (Director-Stefan Herheim, Conductor-Daniele Gatti, Stage Design- Heike Scheele, Technical Direction-Kark-Heinz Matitschka, plus a very long list of other technical acknowledgements). This was the most complex opera production I have ever seen, even more complex than the Schlingensief production, with which it shares some features.


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Wagnerian Influences on La Fanciulla Del West

Peter Bassett

La fanciulla del West, Giacomo Puccini's Californian gold rush opera of 1910, will be returning to Opera Australia's stage next July in a new production commissioned by the Opera Conference. Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'borrowings' from Puccini's score are well documented, but it has to be said that the maestro of Torre del Lago himself drew more than a little inspiration from the 'old magician' of Bayreuth.

Puccini was introduced to the music of Richard Wagner at the Milan Conservatory, and he attended the Bayreuth Festivals of 1888 and 1889. He once observed: 'Nothing of Richard Wagner has died: his opera is the yeast of all contemporary music, and there is yet something to germinate, later, in happier artistic times.' In fanciulla he made his own use of leitmotivs, notably in relation to Minnie and the miners, and he used a form of 'endless melody' instead of set 'numbers' - something that admirers of his earlier operas did not necessarily welcome.

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Hans von Bulow A Life and Times by Alan Walker

a review by Colin Baskerville

(New York: Oxford University Press, isbn 9780-19-536868-0. 510pp.)

The conductor's second wife, Marie von Bulow, deposited the largest Bulow archive in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. This survived the 1945 Fall of Berlin, but remains largely uncatalogued. Alan Walker, the author of a major biography of Franz Liszt, has been able to build on the research required for that study. The task was daunting partly because the 1830 Dresden-born subject led a full life.

Bulow's conducting career included being appointed the 'director' of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (1887-1892). A contemporary reader would consider this a pinnacle of achievement, but at the time his conducting of the Meiningen Court Orchestra (1880-1885) attracted high praise. He appointed the twenty-one year old Richard Strauss as assistant conductor in 1885. The author is skilled in presenting detail of great interest to us. For example, the virtuoso clarinettist in the Meiningen Court Orchestra was Richard Muhlfeld for whom Brahms would write his Clarinet Quintet and the two Clarinet Sonatas. Brahms was invited to use the orchestra to rehearse his own music.

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