NEXT EVENT: Sunday 10 March 2024 - A talk by Simon O’Neill covering his life with Wagner

Simon O'Neill


12.30pm: DVD - Erich Leinsdorf In Rehearsal & Performance
Parsifal: Prelude Act I; Act I Scene II Interlude; Prelude Act III, Interludes from Act III
2.00pm: A talk by acclaimed Heldentenor Simon O’Neill covering his life with Wagner
with a possible sideline to Schoenberg
Venue: the Goethe Institut, Event Hall (upstairs),
90 Ocean Street (cnr Jersey Road), Woollahra
All welcome!

1. Attendance at the event

  • Please click here to register online.
  • Tickets are $25 (members), $35 (non-members), $10 (FT students) [plus booking fee] - including afternoon tea

  • Payment by credit card at the door is also possible.

2. Keeping you safe

  • Please don’t attend the event if you feel unwell and/or are displaying any of the COVID- 19 symptoms.



New Zealander, Simon O’Neill is one of the finest heldentenors on the international stage. He has frequently performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Berlin, Hamburg Vienna and Bayerische Staatsopern, Paris Opera, Teatro alla Scala and the Bayreuth, Salzburg, Edinburgh and BBC Proms Festivals, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Sir Antonio Pappano, Pierre Boulez, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Colin Davis, Edo de Waart, Fabio Luisi, Donald Runnicles, Sir Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann, Jaap van Zweden, Daniel Harding, Simone Young, Andris Nelsons, Pietari Inkinen, Esa Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel.

Most recently Simon made his debut at Opera National de Paris and returned to the Bayerische Staatsoper as the title role in Parsifal. He also appeared as Siegmund in Die Walküre for Oper Leipzig, and the title role in Tristan und Isolde at Santa Fe Opera and Gaffigan, Sydney Symphony as Florestan in Fidelio with Simone Young, Boris in Katya Kabanova with the London Symphony Orchestra and Siegfried in concert with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk both with Rattle and then with Sinfonieorchester Basel and Elder. The 2023/24 season includes a return to San Francisco Opera in the title role of Lohengrin under Eun Sun Kim, Mahler’s Das lied von der Erde and Symphony No.8 in Bremen, Dunedin and Madrid, a role debut of Loge in Das Rheingold with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Dudamel. He returns to the Sydney Symphony for Gurrelieder with Young, Tannhäuser in Tokyo and makes his debut with the Royal Danish Opera in the title role in Tristan und Isolde.

Parsifal: Prelude Act I; Act I Scene II Interlude; Prelude Act III, Interludes from Act III

Erich Leinsdorf (1912-93) was 77 when he was filmed with the orchestra of Südwestfunk in these rehearsals and performance. His most internationally renowned period had been his leadership of the Boston Symphony though after 1967 he accepted only one further fixed appointment – as conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1977 to 1980. Otherwise, he was something of a free agent, taking on a series of guest conductorships, though in his last years he worked a great deal with the Südwestfunk Orchestra.

The concert preserved here was given in 1989 in Karlsruhe. Despite his earlier reputation as something of an irascible conductor, Leinsdorf here cuts a thoroughly disciplined, no-nonsense and unthreatening figure. He explains – all in German (with subtitles) – that he employs the composer’s transitions in the Parsifal preludes and interludes as all other arrangements have a ‘common problem’ – which is that none of them are by Wagner. It shows Leinsdorf’s seriously

arrangements have a ‘common problem’ – which is that none of them are by Wagner. It shows Leinsdorf’s seriously jesting spirit in these encounters. With jumper sleeves rolled up, and glasses, but baton-less he offers clear, helpful advice. Sometimes it’s couched in the form of a suggestion-cum-admonition: he turns to the flutes and says; ‘In one breath? Think about it.’ We then see the flute principal turn with a shake of the head to a colleague. Later on, Leinsdorf worries away at details with her, before finally, satisfied, giving her an eloquent thumbs-up. He is scrupulous about horn entries, getting them to rephrase. ‘No, the mood is lost’ he says, working them still harder.

It’s interesting that without glasses and in tie and tails he looks very much older in the concert than he had during the rehearsals. There’s a greater gravity about his deportment too, a more piercing and expressive control. He positively beams at the young flautist as she carries out what he’d asked in the rehearsal and then, beside himself with delight, and during the concert, blows her a kiss.


WS logo


10 March
12.30pm: DVD -
Erich Leinsdorf in rehearsal & performance
2.00pm: A talk by Heldentenor Simon O’Neill covering his life with Wagner


Click here to register

Goethe Institut *
20 March

7.00pm: A talk on Wagner in Britain by broadcaster Christopher Cooke

  via Zoom from England
Sunday     21 April   12.30pm: DVD - Weber’s Euryanthe (3 Acts)   Goethe Institut *
19 May
no DVD

12.30pm: Annual General Meeting

2.00pm: Concert with soprano Valma Wilson, bass baritone Eugene Raggio & pianist Katherine Day followed by Wagner’s birthday celebration

  Goethe Institut *
Sunday    16 June 12.30pm:  DVD - Lotte Lehman masterclass  2.00pm: Talk TBA   Goethe Institut *
14 July
12.30pm:  DVD - The Ring without words – Lorin Maazel  

2.00pm: Talk by Baritone Simon Meadows 

  Goethe Institut *
10 November

10.30am: WSNSW Symposium on Die Walküre

  Goethe Institut *
11 February
12.50pm: DVD
SOH Opening Concert


2.00pm: A discussion of the Brisbane Ring, led by Warwick Fyfe




Goethe Institut *
21 February
  8.00pm: German soprano Alexandra Steiner 

in conversation from Germany with Ross Whitelaw



via Zoom from Berlin



Goethe Institut
Event Hall (upstairs)
90 Ocean Street (cnr Jersey Road)
Woollahra NSW

St Columba Community Centre
53A Ocean Street (cnr Forth Street)
Woollahra NSW



WS logo


Our members are lovers of the music and operas of Richard Wagner and also support Wagnerian productions in Australia and emerging Wagnerian performers from NSW.

Why not become a member?
Apart from joining a group of fellow Wagnerians, there are many benefits. As a member, you can:

  • attending a variety of events each year at a reduced rate, including talks, seminars, concerts and films, with outstanding presenters and exciting performers, and with afternoon tea following each event - events are held most months usually on a Sunday starting at 2.00pm and normally at the Goethe Institut, 90 Ocean Street, Woollahra, Sydney. In addition, DVDs of Wagner operas or related areas are often shown before talks (but not before recitals or concerts). Click here for the current program.

  • attending a champagne celebration of Wagner’s birthday and a Christmas Party;

  • meeting and getting to know like-minded Wagnerians;

  • enjoying the fellowship of our extended network of music/theatre lovers when attending performances in Australia and overseas;

  • receiving four issues of the Wagner Quarterly per year as well as regular e-news and emails;

  • accessing the Society’s website with its list of events, photo gallery, views and reviews about Australian and international Wagner productions, all previous events, and much more, as well as the For Members Only section which includes all previous Quarterlies;

  • having the opportunity to access tickets for the annual Bayreuth Festival; and

  • knowing that you are helping to support emerging Wagnerian or potential Wagnerian performers from NSW as well as productions of Wagner in Australia.

Subscription rates and how to pay them plus the online New members application form are all available here.

If you have any enquiries about membership, please email your question to