Our 25th anniversary (2005)

Chronology and significant events

President’s Introduction

Our Newsletter editor, Terence Watson, has scoured our Newsletters and produced a list of committee members and officeholders and related historical information from the Society’s beginning to the present. I had hoped that we could also publish a complete list of all the Society’s members, from Betty Maloney (member number 1) to Tim Green (our newest member, number 933), but unfortunately our recent past includes a period in which records were misplaced or destroyed, and this has not been possible.


The Society held its first General Meeting in March 1983. The Society was established as an incorporated association on 15 December 1986 (with alteration of the original Objects and Rules accepted on 31 August 1987.

In June 1993, the Federal Government agreed to list the Society on the Register of Cultural Organisations, entitling donations to the Society’s Public Donation Account to be tax deductible for the donors. This was a significant achievement for the Society as it enabled it to add an incentive to its appeals to people to donate money to be used in supporting Wagner-related activities and purposes, such as sponsoring productions and Wagner Society in NSW Inc. and supporting singers. Prior to this, from February 1982, tax deductible donations could only be made to the Society through the Australian Elizabethan TheatreTrust.

The Public Donation Account is still one of the key mechanisms by which the Society seeks to raise the profile of Wagner and his works in Australia. AND the Society still needs donations to achieve this objective, so, please, consider making a special donation during this significant year and make sure the Society continues its important work.

On 22 May 1994, the Society had its first Wagner birthday lunch after thirteen years of celebrating the event with a formal dinner. In both cases, there were many distinguished quests invited to address the assembled diners. Special guests over the years have included Sir Charles Mackerras, Patrick Veitch, Rita Hunter, Leonie Rysanek, Raymond Myers, Stuart Challender, Horst Hoffman, Ken Neate, Professor Michael Ewans, Ronald Dowd, Alberto Remedios, Bernadette Cullen, John Wegner, John Pringle, Robert Allman, Robert Carr MP, Moffat Oxenbould, Donald McDonald, Simone Young, Andrew Reimer, Bill Gillespie, Antony Ernst, Oswald Georg Baeur, Stephen Phillips, Peter Nicholson, Adrian Collette, Warwick Fyfe, Stephen Mould, Paul Curran, Tim Calnin, Adele Johnston, Professor Nicolas Routley, Professor Simon Williams,

In late 1992, it appears that the Society started its practice of applying for Bayreuth Festival tickets on behalf of its members – for the 1993 Festival. In preceding years, one had to either take one’s chances with the Bayreuth box office or join an organised tour with a company that had access to tickets. In March 1993, the Newsletter reports that the Society had received 15 sets of tickets. In December 1993, the Management Committee published a set of Rules to govern the application for and allocation of Bayreuth tickets. These Rules were revised in February 2001.

Wagner Society Honorary Life Members

Werner Baer, Leonie Rysanek, Rita Hunter, Michael Ewans, Richard King, Reg Maloney, Horst Hoffmann, Joseph Ferfoglia.


Leonard Hansen 1981-1986, Richard King 1986-1990 org e Coonan 1990 1994, Ramon Josey 1994-1995, Paul Lehmann 1995-1997, Barbara McNulty 1997-2002, Roger Cruickshank 2002 – to present.

Public Officers

Richard King (inauguration as Incorporated entity in December 1886 to February 1990, Reg Maloney from September 1994, Olive Coonan from September 2000, Roger Cruickshank from June 2001, Peter Nicholson from September 2001.

Committee Members

Sue Kelly, Richard King, Clare Hennessy, Cedric Falconer, Ian Hopkins, Margaret Suther, Jean-Louis Stuurop, Janet Wayland, Michel Arnold, Jean Byrne, Murray Smith, Judy

and Joseph Forfarshire, Heike Knoke Pamela Dunsford, Olive Coonan, Leonard Hansen, 

Jessie Anderson, David McCulloch, Leith Anderson, Anette Marshall, Margaret Budge, Alma Straub, Patricia Moore, Richard Steele, Paul Lehmann, Arthur Carter, William Watson, Ramon Josey, Ira Kowalski, Barbara McNulty, Barbara Brady, Shirley Robertson, Ivor Zetler, Barry Walters, Terence Watson, Onofreo Ferrara, Roger Cruickshank, Lindsay Knight, Dennis Mather, Julian Block, Sandy Dudgeon, Colin Jones, Elle Rasink, Monica Olave, Mary Haswell, Michael Moore.

Tapes & Teas

A crucial element of the Society's functions is its social events * the regular Sunday functions at which a band of people has been responsible for providing either the content or the sustenance. For the content, a number of members used (and continue to use) their own cassette tapes, then CDs then videotapes then DVDs to bring the latest recordings of Wagner performances to their fellow members: Jean-Louis Stuurop (for many years at the Concordia Club), Michele Arnould, Jessie and Keith Anderson, Clare and Margaret Hennessy, Shirley Robertson and Cecilia Segura.

For the sustenance we have to thank a number of members who provided tasty and nutritious afternoon teas during which members could get to know each other, discuss their mutual Wagnerian passions and debate the merits of performances that they might have heard and/or seen, and analyse the many talks they had heard. These valiant caterers have included: Janet Wayland, Jessie and Keith Anderson, Margaret Budge, Shirley Robertson, and more recently Terence Watson and Elle Rasink. Not to forget, of course, the wonderful offering provided by members for the Society's annual End of Year function. And a special mention to Barbara Brady and the wonderful cakes that she has made since at least 1993 for the end of year raffle and for consumption at the party.

The Ravens Reporting and Webmasters

From its first appearance in Newsletter No. 46 March 1992, this regular update of Wagner performances around the world has grown ever more comprehensive under the indefatigable sleuthing of Camron Dyer.

The Society established a website in early 1999 that was uploaded in March 1999 with Marc Greyling as the inaugural Webmaster, John Studdert took over from September 2002 and is still maintaining and improving the site regularly.

Significant Achievements in meeting the Society’s Objectives

Providing financial support for performances of Wagner's works, including the sponsoring of individual artists in Australia, for example the:

  • ♫  August 1982 production of Tristan und Isolde (Australian. Opera)
  • ♫  Statement of congratulations for the Australian Opera October 1983 production of Die Walküre

  • ♫  Statement of congratulations for the June-August Australian Opera 1984 production of Das Rheingold

  • ustralian Opera 1985 Melbourne performances of Lohengrin

  • ♫  Australian Opera productions of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre (donation toward the set of posters)

  • ♫  August-September 1987 Australian Opera production of Lohengrin (Stella Axarlis)

  • ♫  September-October 1988 Australian Opera production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Donald MacIntyre)

  • ♫  July-August 1989 Australian Opera production of Die Walküre (Donald MacIntyre)

  • ♫  February 1990 Australian Opera production of Tristan und Isolde

  • ♫  1993 Opera Australia production of Tristan und Isolde (the Society had planned to donate to the Company’s production of Parsifal planned for 1993, but terminated in the great fire in the Company’s storage facility)

  • ♫  1995 Sydney Symphony Orchestra concert performance of Das Rheingold (Bernadette Cullen)

  • ♫  1996 Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 50th Annual Gala Wagner concert (assistance in cost of copying scores)

  • ♫  1998 State Opera of South Australia production of the Opera Chatelét ‘s Ring Cycle (John Wegner)

  • ♫  1998 Opera Australia production of Tannhäuser

  • ♫  1999 Sydney Symphony Orchestra concert

    performance of Das Rheingold (Daniel Sumegi)

  • ♫  February 2003 50th Anniversary Festival of Perth concert performance of Götterdämmerung

  • ♫  September 2001 State Opera of South Australia production of Parsifal

  • ♫  The 2004 Opera Australia production of Der fliegende Holländer

  • ♫  The 2004 State Opera of South Australia production of The Ring Cycle

  • ♫  996 Australian Opera production of Der fliegende Holländer was sponsored from the estate of the founding President of the Wagner Society – Dr Leonard Hansen.

Bayreuth Scholarship

Another important mechanism for the Society to meet its objectives is by providing a return international airfare to the winner of the Australian Opera Foundation's Annual Bayreuth Scholarship each year since the offer was first taken up by the winner of the Bayreuth Scholarship.

Mr John Wregg , John Wegner, Bernadette Cullen, Rosemary Gunn, Richard Divall, Roland Peelman, Stephen Bennet, 1992-93 no Scholarships taken up, David Stanhope, Stephen Walters, , Geoffrey Harris, Elizabeth Campbell, Stephen Mould, Lisa Gasteen, Michael Black, Francis Greep, Natalie Jones, Sharolyn Kimmorley,Cathy Dadd, Kate Golla.


From Newsletter 100, June 2005