The Formation of the Wagner Society in New South Wales

By Betty Maloney: Member no. 1

It was always our ambition to go to Bayreuth. Numerous inquiries about obtaining tickets were always met with negative replies. Our friend, Richard King, the owner of the Print Room Gallery, had attended Bayreuth numerous times by travelling with Lufthansa German Airlines and obtaining extra tickets by standing patiently outside the Festspielhaus waving a little banner. It was not until our friend Jenny made us aware of the Henebery Personal Tours (Opera and Music Festival Holidays) in Oxford that our hopes were raised. In 1980 we were allotted three tickets through them to three Wagner operas. By coincidence Jenny also recommended that her friend Len Hansen should contact Oxford and when he was successful suggested that he travel with us. This he did.

Thoughts were bandied around between Reg and myself about a Wagner Society in Sydney. There had been a society previously which had folded, so we felt we needed some support to get the scheme going. We talked of this in Bayreuth and asked Len if he would be president if a society were formed. He agreed. Also in Bayreuth at the same time were Clare and Margaret Hennessy, Joan Klein and Sue Kelly - who were all equally enthusiastic about the formation of a society.

Len had met Richard King through our instigation and visited him at the gallery to ask about touting for tickets at Bayreuth. He must have been well instructed as Len did get tickets for Ring operas. Reg visited the Friends of Bayreuth office and told them of our proposal and their enthusiasm was great. We were returning to London to see the Gotz Friedrich Ring while Len was returning to Sydney. We undertook to contact the president of the London Wagner Society and Len undertook to visit Richard King again to ask if an inaugural meeting to create a Society could be held in his gallery. Meantime the president of the London society visited our flat in Floral Street, London, had lunch with Reg and promised to forward their Constitution onto us. This he did. The inaugural meeting was held at the Print Room Gallery on 26th October 1980 and was attended by 15 people. Of those I can recall only 11 names:

Dr Leonard Hansen
Dr Susan Kelly
Michel Arnould
Richard King
Clare Hennessy
Murray Smith
Reg Maloney
Margaret Hennessy
Barbara Mitchell
Betty Maloney
Joan Klein

At this meeting an interim committee was formed to report back, and so the Wagner Society was formed in 1980/81.

Betty Maloney, Member no. 1