Views & Reviews

Reviews: 'The Wagner Family', 2018

Some reviews in brief

Observations: Hitler at the heart of Wagner
By Jessica Duchen

The Wagner Family
By David J Baker

Wagner: A Film
By Tony Palmer

Some reviews in brief
“Palmer is one of the era’s best art- documentary makers; The Wagner Family is a superb film.”
Andrew Billen - THE TIMES

“An extraordinary achievement. A superb piece of work.”
Barry Millington - EVENING STANDARD

Reviews: The Wagner version of 'Iphigenia in Aulis' and the original Gluck version, 2018

Gluck/Wagner: Iphigenia in Aulis
CD Review by Tim Ashley

Gluck: Iphigénie en Aulide
DVD Review by John operaramblings.wordpress. com

Christoph Willibald Gluck: the composer who deserves better
By Rupert Christiansen


Gluck/Wagner: Iphigenia in Aulis - CD Review by Tim Ashley, 10 April 2014
Nylund/Breedt/Elsner/Zwarg/ Chorus Musicus/Köln/Das Neue/ Orchester/Spering (Oehms)

Reviews: 'Wagner's Jews', 2018

Wagner’s Jews: A Fascinating Perspective on Wagner’s Attitude to the Jews
By Jim Pritchard

Wagner’s Complicated Relationship with the Jews, now on Film
By Judy Maltz 

Richard Wagner was a great composer - but also a virulent anti-Semite
By Adrian Mourbyasks

German opera festival confronts Wagner anti-Semitism head-on 
By Pauline Curtet and Deborah Cole

POSTSCRIPT - The Family makes amends


Review: The challenges of 'Tristan und Isolde', 3, 5, 7, 10 February 2017 

By Terence Watson
Conductor: Anthony Negus; Melbourne Opera Orchestra.

Cast: Tristan: Neal Cooper; Isolde: Lee Abrahmsen; Brangäne: Sarah Sweeting; King Marke: Steven Gallop; Kurnewal: Michael Lampard; Michael Dimovski: Shepherd; Henry Choo: Sailor.

Production: Director: Suzanne Chaundy; Set Designer: Greg Carroll; Video projections: Yandell Walton and Keith Deverell.

Review: Triumphant reprise of the Stemme/Skelton 'Tristan und Isolde' in Hobart, Tasmania, 2016

By Colleen Chesterman
On the night of 19 November 2016, a packed audience in the Federation Concert Hall in Hobart heard
Swedish soprano Nina Stemme and Australian tenor Stuart Skelton perform an abridged concert version of Wagner’s magnificent Tristan und Isolde under the baton of Marko Letonja, conducting the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

The Leipzig Ring Cycle, 2016 - Some thoughts

By Alviro Olave
What are we to make of the one who gets away from the flames consuming Valhalla and the Germanic gods and the rising waters of the Rhine flooding the rest of the world at the end of Götterdämmerung? The matter could have been easily solved had I dared to ask Rosamund Gilmore, the English Production Director, seated in the row in front of us. However, she left after the first curtain call at the end of the opera and I was not in the mood to ask questions following Brünnhilde’s farewell and the powerful music that closes the opera.

Review: 'Der Fliegende Holländer', Victorian Opera, 13, 17, 19 February 2015

By Terence Watson
Conductor Richard Mills; Director Roger Hodgman; Set and Visual Design Matt Scott and Christina Smith; Lighting Design Matt Scott; Costume Design Teresa Negroponte; The Dutchman Oskar Hillebrandt; Senta Lori Phillips; Erik Bradley Daley; Daland Warwick Fyfe; Mary Liane Keegan; Steersman Carlos E Barcenas; Victorian Opera Chorus prepared by Phoebe Briggs; Australian Youth Orchestra

Review: 'Sensory Overload' - Frank Castorf's Ring Cycle, the year after, 2014

By Dr Jim Leigh
The new Ring at Bayreuth, first seen to concerted prolonged booing in 2013, was received with general warm approval in 2014 and one can readily see why. Director Frank Castorf ’s dramatic technique is “überforderung” or overload, that is, sensory overload. People who were initially flabbergasted have since been educated about his style. The same thing happened with Patrice Chéreau’s Centenary Ring of 1976.

Review: The Sophia Ring, July 2014

By Terry and Julie Clarke
We left our yacht in a harbour close to Rome and travelled to Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, for the Ring at the end of July. Bulgaria is the poorest country in the European Community but rich in history and culture. Apart from a few potholes in the pavements the towns are clean although designer shops at street level belie the crumbling buildings above. The people, however, are extremely pleasant and helpful. English is almost universally spoken, there were even English surtitles at the opera.

Review: August in the USA - Glimmerglass's 'Der Fliegende Holländer', 2014

By Colleen Chesterman
Last August 2013, we decided to see the last cycle of the popular Seattle Ring. A long way to go for a week, so we headed first to the East Coast, spending three days seeing wonderful galleries in Philadelphia and Baltimore. We then spent four days in upstate New York at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival. Friends had recommended it after a visit a couple of years ago. In 2013 it featured a Francesca Zambello production of The Flying Dutchman.

Review: Armfield's poor - not cheap - Theatre Ring cycle, 2013

By Terence Watson
The concept of “poor theatre” as applied to the Melbourne Ring Cycle, has for many attendees been synonymous with “cheap theatre,” especially since many people found the range of costumes from the formal to the bathing costumes of the “Sea of Humanity” reminiscent of a visit to an Op Shop, and the minimal use of spectacular stage effects a way of saving Opera Australia money. However, as Armfield’s references to “poor theatre” and “simplicity of means” should alert us to a more serious intention.

Review: The Ring, Opera Australia, Melbourne, 2013

By Richard Mason
It is worth stating the enormous achievement of Opera Australia in finally performing the Ring, after many years of waiting and an embarrassing false start 30 years ago. As the replacement list shows, there were a number of hurdles to overcome on the way. Doubtless, many of the audience were Ring neophytes and, hopefully, Ring converts. The State Theatre proved a fine venue, with a clear singing acoustic and a lush orchestral sound.

Review: The follies of Gods in decline, 2013

By Katie French
In Das Rheingold and Die Walküre in Neil Armfield’s Melbourne Ring, he juxtaposes two worlds. There is the entertaining world of follies, of magic, of dazzling fantasies and wizardry. Then there is the stark and empty world full of achingly human frailties, vulnerabilities and pain. He reveals that, far too frequently, it is the careless world of razzle dazzle and misuse of magic powers which inflicts unintended (and sometimes even unintended) painful consequences on the vulnerable and the innocent.

Review: The Longborough Ring, 2013

By Terry & Julie Clarke
I have written before about performances of Wagner’s works in small private opera houses in the English countryside. For the past ten years Lizzie and Martin Graham have pursued the almost impossible dream of mounting a full Ring Cycle at their home in Longborough in the beautiful Cotswolds Hills west of Oxford.

Review: Ring Cycle in Riga, Latvia, 4-9 June 2013

By Roger Cruickshank
Das Rheingold, director Stefan Herheim. Premier of this production 21 April 2006, performed at the Riga Opera Festival on 4 June 2013; Die Walküre, director Viesturs Kairišs. Premier of this production 2 March 2007, performed at the Riga Opera Festival on 5 June 2013; Siegfried, director Viesturs Kairišs. Premier of this production 6 June 2008, performed at the Riga Opera Festival on 7 June 2013; Götterdämmerung, director Viesturs Kairišs. Premier of this production 2 March 2007, performed at the Riga Opera Festival on 9 June 2013.

Review: 'Die Feen', Leipzig Opera, 2013

By Barbara Brady
Romantic opera in three acts. Libretto by the composer after the play La Donna Serpente by Carlo Gozzi. Leipzig Opera. Renaud Doucet, director; André Barbe, stage designer; ADA (a fairy): Christiane Libor; ARINDAL (Crown Prince of Tramond): Arnold Bezuyen; DROLLA (Lora's companion): Jennifer Porto; GERNOT (Arindal's huntsman and servant): Milcho Berevinov; Chorus and Orchestra of the Leipzig Opera; Ulf Schirmer, conductor.

Afterthoughts from the Armfield Ring, Melbourne, 2013

By Roger Cruickshank
It’s nearly a year since Opera Australia’s first Ring cycle was staged in Melbourne, and I’ve been reflecting on some of the peripheral matters that still drift in and out of my memory of that event. Those of you who attended will have your own experiences and memories, and I don’t want to disturb these, dear reader. I will therefore virtually ignore the production. My random thoughts, in no relevant order, follow.

A pre-season parade

Review: 'Götterdämmerung' In The Cotswolds, 2012

By Terry Clarke
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 Götterdämmerung that was superbly sung and acted and allowed the music to speak for itself without any directorial interference.

Review: 'Siegfried' - Metropolitan Opera, 1 December 2011 -“This Ring Is Cursed”

By Richard Mason
Conductor: Derrick Inouye [replacing Fabio Luisi, replacing James Levine]; Producer: Robert Lepage; Sets: Carl Fillion; Costumes: François St-Aubin

Cast: Jay Hunter Morris [replacing Gary Lehman, replacing Ben Heppner] [Siegfried], Bryn Terfel [Wanderer], Deborah Voigt II [replacing Deborah Voigt I][Brünnhilde], Patricia Bardon [Erda], Gerhard Siegel [Mime], Eric Owens [Alberich], Hans-Peter König [Fafner], Mojca Erdmann [Woodbird]

Review: 'Tannhäuser' Und Der Sängerkrieg Auf Wartburg, 2010

By Richard Mason
Vienna Staatsoper – 16th June 2010 [opening night of a new production]
Johan Botha [Tannhäuser], Anja Kampe [Elisabeth], Michaela Schuster [Venus], Christian Gerhaher [Wolfram], Ain Anger [Landgraf], Gergely Németi [Walther], Alexandru Moisiuc [Biterolf], Marcus Pelz [Reinmar], Alois Mühlbacher [Shepherd]; Production: Claus Guth ,Christian Schmidt; Lighting: Olaf Freese; Movement: Konrad Kuhn; Conducted by Franz Welser-Möst

Reviews: 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg', Bayreuth 2009

By Terence Watson

“Katharina Wagner Should Be Shot”
By Patricia Baillie 

Review by Terence Watson
My first performance at the 2009 Bayreuther Festspiele was the notorious debut production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by the new Festival Director, Katherina Wagner (premiered 2007), but I found it in parts interesting, with a serious point of view, and in parts stupid and crass.

Review: A Polished Vienna Ring, 2009

By Jan Bowen
Given the current global financial crisis, Wotan’s difficulties in coming up with the ready to pay for Valhalla almost certainly struck a chord with many modern day cash- strapped members of the audience. The enduring relevance of Wagner’s magnum opus was strikingly evident in the Vienna Staatsoper’s recent Ring Cycle if for no other reason than its timing.

Book Review: 'Winnie and Wolf' by A.N. Wilson, 2009

By Colleen Chesterman
A. N. Wilson’s novel Winnie and Wolf was published in 2007 and having read it in early 2008 I suggested to Terence Watson that it should be reviewed for our newsletter. A sensible man, he suggested I do it – and here at last is my review. I hope that many members of the Society have already read this book; if not I would like to recommend it for an original and lively introduction to the world of the Festspielhaus and the Wagner family.

'Parsifal' - A personal view, 1984

By Trevor O'Brien
[Trevor O’Brien’s meditation on the music-drama is a sensitive introduction to ways of responding to this somewhat enigmatic work - Editor]

Is it that Wagner is hard to comprehend, or is it that only at times when one can relate personally to the emotions and experiences of which Wagner wrote that a clear understanding of his work evolves? Personal interaction with Wagner’s operas at various moments in our own development seem to expand the understanding and give a clear insight into our own lives.