A personal reminiscence

By Esteban Insausti, Member no. 433

In the Wagner Quarterly 158 (September 2020), new President Esteban Insausti used his first report to say a little about himself, as well as attempt to explain why he has been a member of the Society for some 33 years (joined in 1987 – member number 433):

To do that I need to explain how I arrived at being obsessed with the music dramas of Richard Wagner. I was aware of the music from an early age but not the scenography and dramaturgy. This came later as I became obsessed with theatre. The trigger for diving headlong into the world of Wagner productions and set design in particular was the 1976 Centenary exhibition of models from Bayreuth. I clearly remember going to the Opera House with my father where we spent the best part of a couple of hours looking at those magical models whilst listening to slabs of Wagner. I was sold. As an architecture student I was fascinated by the Bayreuth Festspielhaus (still am). I was also filled with dreams of becoming a set designer, flirted with NIDA for over 30 years, getting accepted once (1982) and rejected once (2016). Thank goodness that I kept my head and stayed a jobbing architect.

The initial reason I joined the Society is one most of you may relate with – getting tickets to Bayreuth. The idea to join was facilitated by George Fleischer, a wise Viennese, who liaised, on behalf of the ABC, with a group of young people known as The Youth Concert Committee (more on that in the future perhaps). Over time that initial selfish reason expanded to an appreciation of the wider aims of the Society which is the enjoyment of participating in a venture to better understand the work of Richard Wagner and supporting the artists who bring his music and drama to life. My involvement and engagement with the Society has been sporadic but intensified over the last few years, coinciding with the acceleration of Ring cycles being accumulated. Also a number of key members of the Society begun to prick my conscience and recruitment into the Committee quickly ensued. Some of these key members I am pleased to call my friends, some for most of my adult life. Leona Geeves, for instance was an early introduction to the Society by our late mutual friend Robert Lloyd (also a member). Whilst Dennis Mather and Robert Mitchell were both my teachers at Fort Street sometime last century (sorry gentlemen). A large part of being a member of the Society is its people, its membership, as much as it is about Richard Wagner. In that vein I hope to get to meet all of you at some stage in the future.

Esteban Insausti, Member no. 433
President WSNSW (August 2020 - )