Birthday Boy

May 22, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, WAGNER |

Birthday cheer

Richard Wagner (b. 22 May 1813) Happy 202nd anniversary to the Old Fellow!  We present an image of the artist as a young Lohengrin, hope Placido sings a little Swan-King today and look forward to Wagner Society SA bash on Sunday (see below).  “Mein lieber Schwann!” Sunday afternoon, 24 May, the Wagner Society of SA hosted a lunch and talk by Gillian and Nicholas Braithwaite.  Jill is a violinist of note and Nicholas is the highly esteemed conductor (he led ASO from 1987 to 1991), he has recorded and conducted all over the world. The Braithwaites gave a sparkling talk on the…

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Bayreuth Was Closed

May 16, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | TRAVEL, WAGNER |

"We're here...who's singing at us?"

22 MAY: Happy Birthday, Richard! In May 2013, we drove into Bayreuth, figuring we would get our fill of tributes to the Master. However, the famed Festspielhaus was closed till bicentenary performances scheduled for June.  No one seemed particularly keen on giving us information…surely they aren’t ‘over’ the Master? There appeared to be no direct road connecting to Richard Wagner Strasse.  We drove the wrong way down a one way street* and at the corner of RW Strasse and Wannfried Strasse, an information booth attendant told us the Wagner Museum was closed. For a town that owes much to Wagner,…

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Mad King Ludwig

April 6, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, TRAVEL, WAGNER |

The Moon King

June 13, 1886: what happened? Ludwig II King of Bavaria, son of Crown Prince Maximilian and grandson of Ludwig I, died mysteriously that summer day in Lake Starnberg, Bavaria.  If he was mad, he was our kind of mad.  But he was also a threat, and this is why his ‘death by drowning’ has serious questions hanging over it – he was found floating, with his asylum doctor (also dead) near the shore, in shallow water, no water in the lungs, and he was a strong swimmer. As accidental drownings go, it has as much cogency as the water commissioner’s in…

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Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg

March 1, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, Opera, WAGNER |

Stage Design by Helmut Jurgens, Munich 1949

(Richard Wagner) (Met, N.Y., Dec. 2014) Whilst perhaps a German might find an opera of over 6 hours duration a droll concept, only Richard Wagner would turn that concept into reality.  Yet in mirific fashion, he succeeds with his most human and entertaining work, a wonderful mix of romance and comedy that does not equate, thanks god, to a ‘romantic comedy’.  From the Magisterial overture to the polyphonous redux of the Masters’ motto, we are enthralled and can even look past the score-settling with critics like Eduard Hanslick (the libretto originally had Beckmesser as ‘Hanslich’), with Jews such as Meyerbeer,…

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The Flying Dutchman

February 16, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

Charles Temple

(Wagner) (1843) Not the Master’s best, by any means, but still streets ahead of most: strong, muscular, melodious, dramatic, Wagnerian, and able to be staged in most civilizations (Bass x 2, Soprano, Contralto, a couple of tenors).  A Mary Celeste story with some soft porn thrown in, it was apparently inspired by both a stormy sea-crossing and Richard’s contempt for Parisians. (TVC team are francophiles but still: Yay!). Add to the inspiration the ghost ship source material that abounded in Wagner’s youth, such as by Marryat and Heine and you can enjoy an immature piece that is still tempestuous, eerie…

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