Wagner Operas Podcasts
Summary: The official podcast of www.wagneroperas.com
The Metropolitan Opera is currently presenting Wagner's Ring, and the return of the Robert Lapage controversial production. Last Saturday I attended a performance of Die Walküre, and the mechanical problems that plagued this staging during the first season now seem to be gone.
It’s that time of the year, when that midsummer classic the Bayreuth Festival begins once again. This year I will be attending this yearly ritual, and ahead of me will be performances of The Flying Dutchman, Parsifal, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and the new production of Lohengrin, directed by , the first American to mount a production at the Green Hill.
In this podcast, we explore the link between the musical score of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo, written by composer Bernard Herrmann, and the music of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. The 1959 film, whose themes center on obsession, and the links between love and death, covers similar terrain as Wagner’s opera. As a result, Herrmann’s music at times appears to be a loving homage as well as a tribute to Wagner’s greatest work.
When Parsifal is playing in town at the Metropolitan Opera it is a not-to-be-missed event. I was joined by my good friends Francis and his wife Julia, as well as my friend Vlad. Francis and I went to Bayreuth last summer, so he is well-seasoned in the works of Wagner, but this was Julia and Vlad’s first Parsifal. The reaction of my friends to this production, including musical interludes of their favorite moments from this opera, is at the heart of this podcast.
A guidebook to the city of Bayreuth, written at the turn of the century, got me thinking: I wonder what a trip to Bayreuth would have been like in those days. In this video podcast we will take a trip to 1905, and listen to the glorious voices that graced the Festspielhaus during the beginning of the 20th century.
The Christmas season does not usually bring to mind the music of Richard Wagner, but it should, for on Christmas morning, in the year 1870, Cosima, the composer's wife, woke from her slumbers to a new composition written by her husband to celebrate her 25th of December birthday, and played at their house by her friends. The composition was the Siegfried Idyll, Wagner’s very special Christmas music.
The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) is Richard Wagner’s answer to Halloween. The story of a ghostly sea captain who is doomed to sail the seven seas for eternity is the perfect opera to enjoy during this spooky festive season.
Do you have a favorite moment in Richard Wagner’s monumental Ring of the Nibelung? I do. My favorite moment occurs in the second act of Die Walküre when Brünnhilde visits Siegmund to tell him that he will die in the field of battle and that she will take him to Valhalla. This is the famous “Todesverkündigung,” the annunciation of death, and it is one of the most famous moments from the trilogy.
My journey to Bayreuth this summer was filled with so many great performers by a host of very talented singing actors. Thinking about the month of August and the great performances I saw and heard, I started wondering what some of these same singers would be like in roles other than the ones I saw them in. And hence this podcast. You will hear performances by Stephen Gould, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Catherine Foster, and others.
After so many years of doing these podcasts I realized that I had never done a program dedicated exclusively to one of my favorite Wagner operas, Tannhäuser. So here is a long program highlighting some of the great moments from this romantic opera from the composer’s middle period. You will hear tenor Jonas Kaufmann, baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and conductor Christian Thielemann, among others.
Currently at the Bayreuth Festival there is an exhibit called “Silenced Voices.” It is a tribute to the many singers, artists, and musicians who, during the Third Reich, were banned from the festival because they were Jewish. In this podcast I pay tribute to three of these distinguished Wagnerians: the legendary soprano Lilli Lehmann, the dashing baritone Herbert Janssen, and the great bass-baritone Friedrich Schorr, who was the greatest Wotan of his time.
During these uncertain days, when the whole world seems to be enveloped by confusion, war, and hate, Vincent and his guest Francis visit the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth and speak about their admiration for Katharina Wagner’s production of Tristan und Isolde, conducted by the dynamic Bayreuth music director Christian Thielemann.
This year we celebrate the one hundred anniversary of the birth of Wieland Wagner (1917 - 1966), the composer's grandson who in 1951 revolutionized the staging of his grandfather's work when he reopened the Bayreuth Festival after World War II with an astonishing production of Parsifal. His simple, dark, expressionistic style became known as "New Bayreuth." It was a revolution in staging, and it was a forerunner of the experimentation that exists today.
The Bayreuth Festival opened this week with a new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Wagner's only comedy. Barrie Kosky, the director of this production has focused on the antisemitism aspect of Wagner's work. The results make for a very interesting night at the Festspielhaus.
It’s been ten years since my last podcast. During that time many wonderful things have happened. In 2012, after a wait of eight years I finally got tickets to the Bayreuth Festival. Now, this summer, I am very lucky to have a chance to go back.