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RWVI WAGNER NEWS – Nr. 10 – 07/2019 – deutsch – english – français

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Dear Wagner community worldwide,

It’s almost time for the 2019 Bayreuth Festival to open its doors to Wagnerians world-wide and the anticipation for what promises to be another exciting year is growing.

There are anniversaries to celebrate this year – of both Wolfgang and Siegfried Wagner, with events to commemorate these running throughout the Festival period. There is also a Wagner to commemorate for a life very well lived – Verena, who died recently, was the last surviving granddaughter of Richard and was much loved in the Wagner community. RWVI President Horst Eggers has written his welcome letter to all Wagner Societies for 2019 and you will find a link to this below.

Details of the events can be found in the Events section of our website and several are listed below with links to more detailed information.

The present Board is entering its final few months in office, with elections for the next 5-year term to take place at our annual Congress in Venice. We have reflected on our achievements and also on our shortcomings and, should those of us who will decide to stand again be re-elected, we will do our utmost to take your comments on board and to build on our achievements in a spirit of continuous improvement.

This will be our last newsletter in this format. Many of you have told us that you find the newsletter too long and too infrequent. From September/October onwards we plan to issue a monthly short newsletter by email (with a separate email for each of our language groups), to ensure that the news is current and relevant. As ever, we need your help to keep the information coming in to us.

We are also planning some exciting changes to the website, with the introduction of a members’ area, where Presidents will be able to log-in and will be able to update their data with any changes, post comments, including news about tickets for Wagner productions for sale and communicate with each other on matters of interest. The aim is to create an electronic notice board for our members and to make our site more interactive.

We hope you enjoy our Newsletter.

Your Newsletter team


           1) RWVI-news
           2) News from Bayreuth
           3) News/Events/Successes of RWVI member societies
           4) New books, CDs, DVDs
           5) Perspectives on Wagner productions


1) RWVI News

RWVI Annual Reports 2018
The collection of Annual Reports for 2018 from the RWVI members are now available to read and download on our website

Keynote Wagner 2019 – „Richard Wagner and Theology“
The weekend symposium held in Munich from 22 to 24 March 2019 was a success

The next Keynote Wagner will be held in Reykjavik in May 2020
The topic is The Nordic Sources and their impact on Wagner. The provisional programme can be found on our website and the Wagner Society Iceland is working
with Ars Musica to create a travel package

Ring Award 2020 – The programme and booking forms are now available
Supported by the RWVI, this renowned competition for young directors and set designers will take place once again in Graz in 2020

RWVI Congress 2019
The next International RWVI Congress, hosted by the WS Venice will take place from 28 November to 2 December. The final programme, along with booking forms are now available on our website. This conference is proving very popular and members are urged to book as soon as possible. The programme is very impressive.

Southern German Wagner Societies held a successful conference
Chairs from 5 southern German societies gathered in Munich in the „Movimento“ to exchange experiences

Another successful regional conference for RWVI member societies in Austria
All the Austrian Chairs met up in Salzburg in the Mozarteum to exchange their experiences


2) News from Bayreuth

Obituary for Verena Lafferentz-Wagner
The RWVI is in deep mourning for its Honorary Member

President Horst Eggers‘ welcome letter to the Bayreuth Festival 2019

Dr. Oswald Bauer receives the Bayreuth Gold Medal
On 16 May, Dr. O G Bauer was awarded the Bayreuth Gold Medal for his encyclopaedic benchmark work „History of the Bayreuth Festival 1850 – 2000“ and his work for the Bayreuth Festival

Advance tickets for this year’s interesting Discourse Bayreuth Programme are now on sale
For the third year running, the performances at the Bayreuth Festival will be complemented by a carefully curated programme of supporting events – the link below gives further information in German
Tickets for the events, including concerts can be bought on Ticketmaster:

Siegfried Wagner events in Bayreuth
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Siegfried Wagner, the International Siegfried Wagner Society is putting on a number of events during the Festival, including a performance of one Siegfried’s operas

Performers for this year’s Scholars concert along with details of date, time and how to buy tickets have now been published

Scholarship Week dates announced for Bayreuth 2020


3) News/Events/Successes of RWVI member societies

In co-operation with the WS Augsburg, a concert with excerpts from Parsifal was held at the Wartburg in Eisenach on 25 April. Link to article in German.

Brussels – A Wagner weekend in Brussels
A Tristan weekend in Brussels on 11 and 12 May 2019 – shared pleasure in Wagner is doubly joyful

In co-operation with the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, the Wagner Society of Düsseldorf is conducting a market research exercise from April to July 2019

Members of the WS visited Bayreuth out of season (link to article in German)
Johannes Martin Kränzle was awarded the Rheingold Prize by the WS Frankfurt on 17 February 2019, giving him honorary membership in the „somewhat different fanclub“.

The „somewhat different fanclub“ live on 27 July
The radio station Hessischer Rundfunk (hr2) will broadcast an extensive one-hour portrait of the WS Frankfurt in its „Music scene in Hesse“ programme. The broadcast will take place from 15:00 to 17:00 CET. In a live interview, hr2 editor Christiane Hillebrandt will ask the Chairman Dirk Jenders about the diverse life of the Frankfurt society. Naturally, appropriate music will be played.

Iceland – visit to New York for the Ring
16 members went to New York to join many Wagnerians from around the world for the Met’s Ring

Kassel – News from the Staatstheater
• Premiere of the new production of Siegfried on 14. September
• New Deputy Music Director at the opera house -Mario Hartmuth
• New theatre education initiative „The Young State Theatre“
Theatre conference of the Protestant Academy Hofgeismar
• This year’s theme: Richard Wagner – Die Walküre
The Boundlessness and Genius of Richard Wagner
• -A lecture was given at the beginning of May in the series „Psychoanalysis on the Road“. Prof. Dr. Dieter Ohlmeier (Kassel) dealt with Wagner’’s Ring from a psychoanalytical point of view.

Leipzig – Wagnerians in the Orient
A group of 30 members of the WS visited Abu Dhabi to attend a guest concert performance from the Bayreuth Festival of Die Walküre
The Leipzig Richard Wagner Prize for young artists 2019 was awarded to 23 year old oboist Alexander Kaul, from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock.

Lisbon – a surprise birthday party for Wagner from the enterprising Portuguese

London – 2019 Singing Competition announced
23 November, Wigmore Hall, London, 11am

Lyon – Wagner and the Rhônegold – A conference in Lyon in April
Several members of various French Wagner Societies attended this conference with lectures, readings, a gala dinner and a tour of Lyon.

The Wagner House in Meudon

Munich – Live Painting with the Chair of the Brno WS
An original painting by the Czech artist Vladimir Kiseljov has found a home in Linz. Born in 1984, the artists is well known to members of the RWVI.

Netherlands – the Wagner Genootschap names two new honorary members
Edo de Waart and Henk de Vlieger were bestowed on 25 May with honorary membership by the WS Netherlands.

Newsletters – the latest from Brussels, Toulouse, Melbourne, Paris and New Zealand
All available to read on our website.

New York – annual Bayreuth lectures to be given by Professor J. J. H. Muller in he Arvena Kongress Hotel from 17-29 August

Nice Côte d’Azur A lecture by WS President Michèle Bessout
7 September „De Rienzi au Vaisseau Fantôme, ou la Révélation du Génie »

Nuremberg – News from the WS in the city of the Mastersingers Symposium on the 150th birthday of Siegfried Wagner
Saturday 19 October, 11:00 – 17:00. Loew Merkur hotel, Pillenreuther Str. 1, 90459 Nuremberg.

Singapore – former Chair awarded honorary degree
Juliana Lim, former Chair of the Wagner Association of Singapore, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Essex UK to acknowledge her contribution to the arts.

Wagner soprano visits Singapore
The up and coming British soprano Rachel Nicholls visited Singapore and met members of the local WS

Southern California – WSSC to host gala dinner once more in Bayreuth
For those in Bayreuth on 25 August, tickets are now available to attend this delightful annual event in the Steigenberger Restaurant after the show.

Toulouse – Cercle Wagner to host a Parsifal weekend in February 2020
Wagnerian Toulousains visit Bordeaux
10 members of the Cercle Wagner de Toulouse visited Bordeaux in May to attend a performance of Die Walküre


4) New books


New Books in German

Wieland Wagner: Ästhetik, Zeitgeschichte, Wirkung
Stephan Mösch / Sven Friedrich bei Könighausen und Meumann The presentation of the book will take place on 24 July at 10 am in Haus Wahnfried

Dr. Martha Schad
„Cosima Wagner und Ludwig II von Bayern – Briefe“

Frankfurter Wagner-Kontexte – Volume 2
Volume 2 in the series published by the WS Frankfurt is now available.
This new volume is dedicated to the violinist August Wilhelmj (1845 – 1908), who was one of the greates violinists of his time, and a key influence on Wagner.

Max is to blame: or a self-fulfilling prophecy
The world-famous bass-baritone Bernd Weikl makes his literary debut

Cosima Wagner and Ludwig Il of Bavaria: Letters: An astonishing correspondence
The well-known and popular historian and author Martha Schad from Augsburg turns once again to the subject of Wagner..

Musical life in Germany
In this compendium, the German Music Information Centre (MIZ) brings together in 620 pages background knowledge and data on music culture in Germany. In 22 articles, renowned authors from the fields of science, cultural policy and music practice describe the structures and recent developments in musical life

Götterdämmerung in der schönen neuen Welt
A Science fiction novel based on the final part of the Ring Cycle – by Stefan Thiel


New Books in English

The July Edition of the Wagner Journal
… With the usual interesting mixuture of scholarly articles and reviews of productions, CDs and books.

The Only Way is Up – Sir Donald McIntyre has published his memoirs
Sponsored by the Wagner Society New Zealand, this lively account of his singing career by the legendary bass

The Trouble with Wagner by Michael P. Steinberg
University of Chicago Press, 2018 $37.50 Steinberg offers an account of the Wagner bicentennial Ring for La Scala/Staatsoper Berlin along with a reading of psychology, philosophy and history.

Curtain, Gong, Steam: Wagnerian Technologies of 19th Century Opera
By Gundula Kreuzer University of California Press – $55.98. An examination of the intertwined developments of opera as an art form and the technical machines that have brought it to life.


New Books in French

Luc-Henri Roger on Das Rheingold „Les Voyageurs de l’Or du Rhin“
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first production of Das Rheingold in Munich, Belgo-German author Luc-Henri Roger has published a new book.
This book will be formally presented by the Wagner Museum Bayreuth on 29 July and will be on sale in the Museum bookshop


5) Perspectives on Wagner productions

The Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin will present its current production of Der Ring des Nibelungen for the first time in the renovated opera house. This production was created for the Wagner anniversary in 2013 in cooperation with the Teatro alla Scala and was previously staged in the Schiller Theatre. Conductor – Daniel Barenboim, Director – Guy Cassiers. Among the soloists are: Iréne Theorin, Michael Volle, Andreas Schager, Falk Struckmann, Simon O‘Neill, Anja Kampe and Stephan Rügamer.
Cycle I from 7-15 September, Cycle 2 from 21-29 September
Currently sold out, but keep an eye out for returns.

Deutsche Oper Berlin: A new Ring.:„At the Deutsche Oper Berlin Stefan Herheim is taking on the task of translating the mindset of Wagner’s tetralogy into the 21st century.“ The production will begin with Das Rheingold on 12 June 2020. Conductor Donald Runnicles. The cast includes Derek Welton, Markus Brück, Thomas Blondelle and Annika Schlicht.

Brisbane, Opera Australia
In November/December 2020 a new, fully digital production of the Ring will be staged in Brisbane. The Director will be Shi-Zheng Chen and the conductor has been named as Philippe Auguin . Among the artists performing will be Stefan Vinke, Allison Oakes and Vitalij Kowaljow.

The Royal Opera, Copenhagen will present three semi-staged performances of Tristan und Isolde on 27 October, 3 November and 14 November 2019. Conductor Lothar Koenigs. The title roles will be performed by Ann Petersen and Christopher Ventris.

Vermont Company to stage Tristan this autumn
It’s always exciting when a young company get together to stage Wagner in a local theatre with young singers

Göteborg Opera – Sweden
Between 2018 and 2021, a complete Ring cycle will be staged there for the first time, with the conclusion of the tetralogy coinciding with the celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the city of Göteborg. Das Rheingold premiered last November.

Staatstheater Kassel, Rheingold
Kassel is forging its new Ring, which will complete in 2020. The premiere of Rheingold took place last September, Walküre premiered in March this year, Siegried
will premiere on 14 September, followed by Götterdämmerung on 7 March 2020

Announcement from Leipzig Opera
Leipzig Opera has announced that it will stage in June andJuly 2022 performances of all 13 works by Richard Wagner in his birthplace in the order of their creation.

Stadttheater Minden
In September last year the Minden Ring concluded with Götterdämmerung. This year there will be two complete cycles between 12 September and 6 October.
Director: Gerd Heinz, Conductor: Frank Beermann

Philharmonie de Paris
Concert version of Parsifal 22 November at 16.30. Conducted by Valery Gergiev


Contact information for your newsletter team:

Andrea Buchanan (English, French, German)
Jacques Bouffier (French, English)
Selma Gudmundsdottir (Icelandic, English, German, Danish, Swedish)
Karl Russwurm (German, English)



Full text in PDF: PDF

Egils Silins sings The Flying Dutchman in a pedestrian tunnel

Showing his support for the renovation of Wagner’s Theatre in Riga, the world famous bass baritone Egils Siliņš sings Dutchman’s Monologue from Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman in a pedestrian tunnel.

Directed by – Andrejs Verhoustinskis
Designer – Ineta Sipunova
Sound director – Artis Dukaļskis
Video operators – Andrejs Verhoustinskis, Jēkabs Štelmahers un Dāvids Gržibovskis

Rīgas Riharda Vāgnera biedrība

Web page –
Facebook –

Swan song for former Latvian PM Maris Gailis as efforts intensify to save Riga’s Wagner House

The Latvian entrepreneur and politician Maris Gailis could be enjoying his retirement. However, Gailis who served 462 days as Latvia’s Prime Minister is a man who likes challenges. His newest, which has become an all-consuming passion, is to see the Wagner House and Theatre in Riga’s Old Town return to its former glory and again bustle with artistic activity.

To assist him in his efforts, Gailis has enlisted the support of several noted individuals, including Richard Wagner’s great-granddaughter, the opera manager Eva Wagner-Pasquier, who visited Riga for the launch of a massive campaign to raise awareness of the deteriorating state of the building. The message that something needs to be done was clear. “The time of talking needs to stop and action is required,” Gailis told The Baltic Times.

Raising awareness of the condition of the building and Gailis’ plans have both kicked off in earnest. “Our campaign started in October last year. It was to have featured 800 singers. However, due to inclement weather, 400 singers assembled and braved the rain and marched through Riga singing the Pilgrims Chorus from Wagner’s opera Tannhauser. They made their way to the Wagner House and Theatre to affirm that the building is not only part of Riga’s musical and cultural legacy, but a legacy that belongs to the world,” Gailis said.

The building was last used in 2007 when the concert hall was forced to shut its doors in response to worsening structural conditions. It was put in the possession of the Latvian Ministry of Finance, who entrusted management of the building in 2005 to SJSC State Real Estate.

According to Gailis the building has major structure damage, cracks in the walls, problems with leaking water and mould. SJSC State Real Estate believes that the hall is a monument of cultural heritage which must be renovated as soon as the necessary funding is found.

“But until then we must be able to provide at least the minimum conditions for the preservation of the building’s cultural heritage and values,” the Latvian Ministry of Culture informed The Baltic Times.

“Thank goodness that the Latvian government keeps the heating on in the building during the winter and allocates money for this purpose. This has avoided further deterioration,” Gailis said.

The average annual heating cost for the building over the past five years has totalled €7,000, including VAT. In turn, the total direct expenditure of maintaining the building, including utilities, the maintenance of engineering networks, staff salaries, household supplies, and repair works total on average €17,500 per year.

According to a technical inspection report which was carried out in January, the building was found to be in a partially satisfactory technical condition.

“Bearing witness that this architectural monument which is of national interest has been progressively eroding under the impact of time, the Ministry of Culture, despite not being the owner of the building, ordered a feasibility study (calculations of the economic financial viability of a public-private partnership) of the development possibilities for the Wagner Hall,” the Ministry of Culture noted.

The Ministry of Culture has been actively engaged in the work of a commission that was established by the building’s owner. The commission has developed a report setting out the possibilities for the building’s future development. After examining the report, the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers will decide on a renovation model.

The Ministry of Culture supports that the vision offered by the working group, which envisages the renovation of the Wagner Hall will be in line with the nation’s financial possibilities. The Ministry of Culture believes that public investment or a public-private partnership for the renovation of the Wagner Hall would be to the most appropriate action.

“There have been many individuals in the past that have been involved in trying to preserve the building’s cultural value, but there’s been much talk and little action. Nevertheless, at least they pushed the project forward, and now we’re working in the same direction,” Gailis said.

Gailis founded the Wagner Society of Latvia which has provided him with a platform to drive the ideas which he’s been developing and envisioned for the Wagner House and Theatre. He’s enlisted the support of his wife who’s drawn up his project’s design plans. Gailis’ wife is Zaiga Gaile from the architecture firm Zaigas Gailes Birojs, one of the leading and renowned architect companies in the Baltic States. Gailis said that if he undertakes this project, he’ll do it his way.

“Normally, Wagner societies around the world deal with scholarships, concerts and education, but in our case the Wagner Society of Latvia’s main goal and priority at the moment is to restore the theatre where Wagner conducted,” Gailis said.

The original German Theatre was built in 1782 by the Baltic-German architect Christoph Haberland, and served as the city’s cultural centre for over a century until it was destroyed in the mid-19th century after Riga built a new opera house.

“My wife has already designed a third version of my proposal where we’ll rebuild a 400-seat theatre. Wagner‘s legacy that Latvia has been entrusted with in this house and theatre also belongs to the world,” Gailis noted.

Richard Wagner arrived in Riga in 1837, becoming the first Chief Conductor of the City Theatre at the age of 24. During his two years as Kapellmeister he oversaw the production of 39 operas. His dismissal came only as a response to the composer’s alleged financial misdeeds in Riga.

A controversial figure, Wagner developed a number of innovations whilst in Riga that changed opera and classical music forever, and he holds an indelible role in the musical history of Latvia’s capital.

Wagner implemented four major ideas whilst employed at the theatre. Firstly, he conducted facing the orchestra, with his back turned to the audience. He also lit only the stage where the performance was taking place. “The idea apparently came about as the citizens of Riga were greedy and didn’t want to pay for candle lighting in the audience area, which was a normal practice in European theatres at the time. This partly provided lighting for audience members to show off their clothing, and enabled them to see each other,” Gailis said.

Wagner realised that lighting only the stage would allow the audience to concentrate solely on the performance. So the audience area was darkened. Whilst in Riga, Wagner was already developing his ideas for a new theatre which he would replicate in Bayreuth. A theatre having good sight lines and good acoustics for all, and similar in design to a Greek amphitheatre. Lastly, the orchestra was placed partially under the stage which assisted dampening the sound so as to not drown out the singers on stage. “It somehow also helped with the resonating of the sound. Wagner’s time in Riga greatly influenced his future design plans for the Bayreuth Theatre,” Gailis noted.

Gailis believes that he’s put together a great design plan for the restoration of the building, along with a great team of experts.

“My wife is working with Europe’s leading theatre advisers and theatre designers based in Amsterdam, who are also involved in this Wagner project which I’m proposing. I have other specialists working on the museum part,” said Gailis.

“This means that we’re well prepared against any other project ideas that may perhaps come in later when the government announces a tender. This is our advantage, and no one can blame us, as this is our idea. We’ve been working on our idea for three years. Nevertheless, let’s wait and see what the government decides.”

“The Latvian government however does also have other priorities. A new concert hall, for example. The Minister of Culture informed me that they’re no longer considering the Merks concert hall proposal at Skanste, which I didn’t like. The Ministry of Culture has again opened up to the idea of the possibility of the wonderful concert hall proposal by the architect Andis Silis on the AB Dam, near the Latvian National Library.”

‘‘However, the restoration efforts would need to proceed in tandem with any other concert hall proposal, because if the Wagner project goes ahead The Latvian Ministry of Finance may forget about what is perhaps the country’s main priority, namely a large 2,000-seat concert hall.”

“The Ministry of Finance has prepared three proposals concerning what to do with the Wagner House and Theatre building. The first is not to sell it, which is politically not acceptable. It would be rented out to generate income, which again is stupid, except if you perhaps convert it into a hotel or casino. This would mean nobody could undertake this from a commercial point of view. It’s impossible. The second option is a private-public partnership, which we support. The third option would be for the government to finance the renovations completely and allocate funds to the Ministry of Culture to operate the building.”

“However, I must thank The Baltic Times for the new idea that our interview placed into my mind of seeking funds from abroad for the restoration efforts, perhaps from Wagner lovers, multinational companies or wealthy cultured individuals and so on. This never occurred to me.”

Even so, Gailis believes he’d need to raise approximately €20 million for the plan he’s proposing. “But to pursue this option, all legal issues and requirements would have to be discussed with the Ministry of Culture. And we’d need an auditing firm to monitor any funds raised, as well as expenditures,” said Gailis

“But Wagner’s great-granddaughter, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, is in a position to help us, within any Ministry of Culture legal framework of course, to raise money in Germany. And from Bayreuth, Horst Eggers the chairman of the Richard Wagner International Associations around the world is also ready to help, as are several German politicians I met in Bayreuth during my visits there attending Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival.”

Gailis has on two previous occasions raised large sums of money. The first was in connection to his circumnavigation of the world in 2000, which companies financed. The amount was approximately US$500,000, and was connected with advertising, a film and a book. On the second occasion he raised €400,000 for the award-winning Zanis Lipke Memorial on the island of Kipsala in Riga, which Gailis’ construction company built.

For now it’s a waiting game for Gailis. “At least the government has the proposal on the agenda,” he said.

“Hopefully in May it will appear on the government’s timetable. It remains very important for me, as the government concludes working in November and who knows who’ll be in the next government. My aim is to have until September/October a government decision on what proposal it will pursue. However, it’s being discussed, and they now know that it can’t be thrown out.”

At the moment, everyone on Gailis’ team is working on the project on a voluntary basis, and are driven by a shared passion and commitment.

“I trust that this project may be a sort of swan song of my life. I am, however, no longer a young man. And I’ve become sick and tired of dealing with bureaucracy, but I’ll continue to devote all my available energy, along with a great group of individuals who share my passion and love of Wagner, to see the Wagner House and Theatre finally restored and renovated, and for Riga to take its place as a Wagner city.”

Wagner wrote the first two acts of his opera Rienzi while in Riga, and he claimed in his 1870 autobiography Mein Leben (My life) that he’d been inspired to write The Flying Dutchman following a stormy sea crossing he made from Riga to London in 1839.