Riga Richard Wagner Society will celebrate Wagner’s 209th birthday

The Riga Richard Wagner Society invites you to celebrate Richard Wagner’s 209th birthday on Sunday, 22 May, starting at 16:00, by joining in a flash mob.

Every year, the Riga Richard Wagner Society (RRWS) has celebrated the birthday of the great German composer by organising a special flash mob to draw public attention to the building at 4 Wagner Street (formerly the First City Theatre of Riga) and its renovation project. This year is no exception: with Wagner’s best-known compositions playing from the windows of the building, everyone will have the opportunity to take a photo with Wagner himself and his companion, Robber a Newfoundland dog who was the composer’s companion during his time in Riga (1837-1839). Participants are invited to take a photo of themselves and their friends with Wagner and Robber and post it on social media with the hashtag #vagneriga.

On 22 May, the doors of Richards Wagner Street. 4 will be open to everyone, offering a unique opportunity to see inside the building where Richard Wagner himself once waved his conductor’s baton.

Since the first RRWS flash mob in 2017, when the future of the Wagner House was still unclear, significant steps have been taken: the former director of the Bayreuth Festival and Wagner’s great-granddaughter Eva Wagner-Pasquier, the President of Latvia Egils Levits and the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier have become patrons of the renovation project. In October 2020, the building at 4 Wagner Street was transferred to the RRWS and at the end of the same year the German Bundestag approved the allocation of €5.2 million for the renovation of the Wagner House. A total of EUR 35 million is needed for this purpose. The renovation and reconstruction work is scheduled to start in the summer of 2023 and the renovated building is expected to open its doors as the Wagner Theatre of Riga in 2026.

Everyone is invited to support the revival of the Wagner House by donating in person on Sunday (a special donation box will be available) or by bank transfer at their convenience.

More information:
Signe Viška
Riga Richard Wagner Society
Public Relations Manager
+371 22028087

The first contract for 200,000 euros for the renovation of the Wagner Theatre in Riga was signed

On Monday, 30 August, the contract for the granting of 200,000 euros to the Richard Wagner Society Riga by the German government was officially signed at the German Embassy in Riga.
Last December it was announced that the German Bundestag has confirmed 5.2 million euros over six years for the restoration of the Wagner Theater in Riga. Now, at the end of August, the necessary documents for the application for the first year of 200,000 euros have been assembled and the contract was officially signed by the German Ambassador to Latvia, Christian Heldt, the Chairman of the Board of the Richard Wagner Society Riga, Māris Gailis, and the Society’s Board Member, Māris Kalniņš. To mark the occasion, a selection of Wagner’s works was performed from the Embassy balcony by a string quartet – Gunārs Mūrnieks, Ilva Bāliņa, Amanda Rupeika, Klāvs Junkevics.

Foto: Gints Ivuškāns

The signing of the contract for the financing of the planning phase by the German government is an important step in the implementation of the “Renaissance of the Wagner Theatre in Riga” project – it means that the first tranche of the 200,000 euros for the restoration and renovation of the Wagner Theatre is available in the form of a grant. It will be invested in the development of the Wagner Theatre project to the next stage – the preparation and planning of the project to the sketch stage.

The vision of the Wagner Theatre Renaissance in Riga project is to create a beacon of European culture in Riga. Over a period of six years, the unique 5000 square metre building ensemble in Riga’s Old Town will be renovated and given a new lease of life. The importance of the project is also confirmed by the patrons of the Wagner Theatre – Latvian President Egils Levits, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner, Eva Wagner-Pasquier.

A total of 35 million euros will be needed for the restoration and revitalisation of the former first Riga theatre. The restoration of the Wagner Theatre will not only improve the diversity and accessibility of cultural events for the Latvian population, but also strengthen the image of Riga and Latvia as a cultural centre and the connection to Richard Wagner, who was Kapellmeister at the Wagner Theatre for two years (1837-1839). The project envisages not only the renovation of the building and the theatre hall, but also the establishment of master classes and a museum. The Wagner Theatre will realise Wagner’s vision of the “GesamtkunstWerk21” – an incubator for all art forms worthy of the 21st century and which will become an international centre for young artists.


“Scale: Maximalism”, an exhibition of scenographic models, opens in the windows of the Wagner House

The windows of the Wagner House in the Old Town of Riga feature works by the artists’ union “4K”, the graduates of the Department of Scenography of the Art Academy of Latvia. These are scenographic models for ballet, play, rock opera and postmodern opera, or miniatures of visual solutions for the stage.

Young artists Madara Mela, Katrīna Ieva, Andris Kaļiņins and Ieva Stalšene, or the collective “4K”, have chosen different materials for their diploma work, but the results are united by musicality, large-scale staging of the big hall stage, visual development and the ambition of the scenographer himself to be the sole creator of the image of the performance and to think about performances in general during a viral epidemic.

Madara Mela’s exhibition offers a glimpse of the postmodern opera “Einstein on The Beach” by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, which breaks the rules of classical opera. The opera is about the technological revolution, and its main symbol is Albert Einstein, a genius born in the 19th century, and the realisation of the invention of a super-weapon, the atomic bomb. Thesis supervisor – Reinis Suhanovs.

Katrīna Ieva boldly interpreted the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This work of art looks at the last days of Jesus’ life through the prism of contemporary socio-political and human lovelessness. Thesis supervisor – Monika Pormale.

Andris Kaliņins created the set design for the romantic ballet “Swan Lake” (Лебединое озеро) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In the stage version, academic beauty and painted prospects meet a technological counterforce in the form of stage projectors. Thesis supervisor – Viktors Jansons.

Ieva Stalšene has interpreted the symbolist play “The Blue Bird” (L’Oiseau bleu) by Maurice Maeterlinck in her stage model. The visual elements of the idea are drawn from quantum physics and techno culture, resulting in the intertwining of Maeterlinck’s plot with the story of a world that has not been fully created, where courage, hope and happiness must be found. Thesis supervisor – Kristians Brekte.

This year’s graduates of the Department of Scenography of the Art Academy of Latvia have already identified their interest in collaborative work during their studies, formed their own artists’ union and named it “4K”.

Over the past two years, “4K” has exhibited its work in several exhibitions, including the Kalnciema Street Quarter Gallery, the exhibition “The End of the World”, the exhibition “45.5 m2” at “Cēsu alus brewery” and the high-profile exhibition “Special Needs” at the Eduards Smiļģs Theatre Museum of the the Latvian Academy of Culture, dedicated to women’s rights in the theatre.

The exhibition is curated by the graduates in collaboration with their thesis supervisors, the Art Academy of Latvia and the Riga Richard Wagner Society.

10.000€ for Wagner in Riga

Members of RWV Frankfurt support the renaissance of the Wagner Theatre in Latvia’s capital.

As early as during the members’ trip in autumn 2012, the then already closed building of the former German Theatre in the historic old town of Riga cast a spell over us. How wonderful it would be, we thought at the time, if life could return to the tradition-rich house where Richard Wagner worked from 1837 to 1839. This is now becoming a reality thanks to the dedicated chairman at RWV Riga, Maris Gailis.

Following the online members’ meeting in February, which focused on the theatre project, we launched a fundraising campaign and it turned out to be a success. Members of our association were extremely generous, so that the proud donation amount of 10,000 euros could be firmly pledged. The good news was received gratefully and with great enthusiasm by the Latvian Wagner friends.

RWV Frankfurt wishes all those involved in the renaissance of the Wagner Theatre continued success and is itself longing for the day of the opening. A members’ trip to mark the occasion is already firmly planned.

This entry was posted by Dirk Jenders on the homepage of the Richard Wagner Association Frankfurt (RWV Frankfurt).

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier becomes patron of the Wagner Theatre in Riga

Riga/Berlin: During his visit to Berlin today, Latvian President Egils Levits expressed his gratitude for President Steinmeier’s decision to join the Latvian President in taking over patronage of the Wagner House in Riga.

The vision of the “Renaissance of the Wagner Theatre Riga”, as the project is titled, is the creation of a cultural centre in north-eastern Europe. In addition to the normal theatre operations, the unique building ensemble in the old town of Riga offers an infinite amount of space: 5000 square metres should and want to be filled with new life.

A “GesamtkunstWerk21”, a total work of art of the 21st century, is to be created here, an incubator for all the arts and an international centre for young artists. At Richard Wagner Straße 4, where Richard Wagner himself was Kapellmeister for two years (1837-1839), the initiators are thus following his exclamation: “Children! Create something new”.

The building complex was handed over by the Latvian state to the Richard Wagner Society Riga in October 2020 for this very purpose. In December 2020, the German Bundestag approved funding for the project in the amount of 5.2 million euros over six years.

The initiator of the project, the former Latvian president and entrepreneur Maris Gailis, the chairman of the Richard Wagner Society Riga: “President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s patronage of the Richard Wagner House in Riga is a testament to the international significance of this project and to enforcement of the historical cultural ties in the European context, especially between Latvia and Germany.”

In addition to the two presidents, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, former Festival Director of the Bayreuth Festival, is also patron of the project.


Press contact in Riga:
Vaiva Bauze

Press contact in Berlin:
Mechthild Foet

You can find pictures here.
Copyright: Latvian Presidential Chancellery

WORLD RELIGION WAGNER documentary film shoots in Riga

In April, the documentary WORLD RELIGION VAGNER (working title) was shot in Riga at the Rihards Wagner House and the Latvian National Opera, and the founders of the Rihards Wagner Society Māris Gailis and Egils Siliņš, one of the most one of the world’s most sought-after bass-baritone Wagnerists and Chairman of the Latvian National Opera, were interviewed.

Film makers: “WORLD RELIGION WAGNER is a cinema documentary about the worlds love and fascination with the music of Richard Wagner. Until this day, there are more than 125 Wagner Societies all around the globe and we have been visiting some of them, to find out how such a massive following has developed over the years. From Italy to Japan, from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi, from Israel to Russia and now Riga – we have been meeting „Wagnerians“ and talked about their passion for Wagner’s music and their „Mecca“ – The Bayreuth Festival.

The film is directed by award winning classical music journalist Axel Brüggemann and will be release in cinemas from July 2021 on.

German Bundestag confirms 5.2 million Euro for the renaissance of the Wagner Theatre in Riga

Riga/Berlin: Today, the adoption of the 2021 budget took place in the German Bundestag, and the allocation of 5.2 million euro for the renovation of the Wagner House in Riga was on the agenda, the allocated amount will ensure security for a long-term planning of the project. In total, the restoration, renovation and revitalization of the former first Riga Theatre will cost 35 million euro.

In October 2020, the keys to the building ensemble were handed over to the Riga Richard Wagner Society. The support of the German government, especially in the early stages of the project, is essential and should be highly valued, as it will provide the necessary co-financing to attract funds.

The patron of the project and former festival director Eva Wagner-Pasquier has followed the developments with great interest: “Today is a great day for all lovers of Richard Wagner’s music: that the Bundestag has decided to support this long-term project makes me, as patroness, extremely happy. Soon we will hopefully be able to open the Wagner Theatre in Riga and thus lead his idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk into a new century”.

The Latvian President and patron of the project Egils Levits, said: “I am delighted that the German Bundestag will financially support the restoration of the Wagner Theatre so that it can once again become one of the most visible cultural centers in Northern Europe. The Wagner Theatre is of great importance for the history and cultural life in Latvia and Germany”.

Project initiator Maris Gailis, Chairman of the Board of the Riga Richard Wagner Society, said: “The significant financial support of the German Bundestag is a wonderful signal – the Wagner Theatre in Riga will revive!”


More information:
Vaiva Bauze
Mārketinga un sabiedrisko attiecību vadītāja
Rīgas Riharda Vāgnera biedrība
+ 371 29151532

Richard Wagner Gesellschaft Riga takes over former German Theatre

On 20 October, President of Latvia Egils Levits took part in the key handover ceremony at the Riga Wagner House. This ceremony marked the official launch of Latvian-German partnership for ‘Renaissance of the Wagner Theatre Riga’.

In the presence of President Egils Levits and the mayor of the Hanseatic city of Riga, Mārtiņš Staķis, Māris Gailis received the keys to the former German Theatre in the heart of the Old Town. Ceremony for handing over of the building ensemble was officiated by Renars Griskevics, Chairman of the board, SJSC State Real Estate. After the third reading of the bill in late summer, the Richard Wagner Association of Riga, whose chairman is Māris Gailis, has come a step closer to its goal: renovation and restoration of the historic building, as well as revival and revitalization of the theatre.

President Egils Levits, who is also the patron of the project, underlined: ‘I support this forward-looking German–Latvian project. This building is the embodiment of previous two and a half centuries of Latvian history. This project will enrich the cultural life of Latvia and also the whole Europe. I am pleased that this Hall will soon regain the spotlight it deserves as a cultural beacon by the Baltic sea in Northern Europe. It will quickly become one of the main attractions in Riga. People will come here to enjoy culture. It is one of those magnetic places every city must have. People are attracted to cities for various reasons, and cultural life is one of them. I wish the project best of luck.’

In recent years, the Riga Richard Wagner Society had taken over the building ensemble, in which Richard Wagner worked from 1837 to 1839. The author of the idea, Maris Gailis, emphasized today: ‘Handing over of the key is the most important prerequisite for preserving this unique ensemble of buildings in the Old Town of Riga. Project “Renaissance of the Wagner Theatre Riga – GesamtkunstWerk21” is our way of honouring and acknowledging the importance of the house for Europe and our country.’

Special architecture of the house fuelled Wagner’s particular interest in a new type of opera house, a type of building similar to the first building of this kind erected later in Bayreuth. It also laid the foundation for his vision on how to merge all art forms into one universal work of art-the Gesamtkunstwerk. Former festival director Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Maris Gailis joined forces and convinced the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner to become the patroness of the project. Project GesamtkunstWerk21 will become an arts incubator for all arts – old and new, serving as a platform for conceiving, creating and implementing new multidisciplinary ideas. Eva Wagner-Pasquier is convinced that the project will be a success: ‘Riga is the place where my great-grandfather, who left a profound mark and revolutionised European art and culture, became a figure of continental magnitude. This project places the significance of his work in the European context. By bringing this special place with such musical and historical relevance back to life, giving it back the features of universal art form while adapting it to 21st century needs, we are doing a fantastic job. It is a true success story.’

Project financing burden will be distributed among several stakeholders. In addition to funding from the Latvian government and the city of Riga, German government will also decide on additional co-financing in the coming weeks. Moreover, the project is very likely to also be financed by Brussels.


Circular letter regarding Riga

Dear Sir/Madam, dear friends of Richard Wagner,

I would like to present to you today a project of outstanding and worldwide importance. It concerns the Wagner Hall and the German Theatre in Riga in beautiful Latvia, which is now once again an independent state, but belonged to the Russian Tsarist Empire during Richard Wagner’s lifetime.

Richard Wagner stayed in Riga with his first wife Minna for two years and filled the position Music Director at the theatre. For a while they were safe here from his Prussian creditors.

But Riga’s theatre was also the opera house in which Wagner started his musical experiences and began to experiment with a partially covered orchestra pit, which he only could bring to perfection in the Bayreuth Festspielhaus much later. It still plays the most important “musical role” there today.

In Riga, however, Wagner’s major expansions and developments in relation to grand opera also began to emerge, especially the text and score for his Grand Opéra “Rienzi”, took their beginnings in this place and the first two acts of “Rienzi” were created in Riga.

While fleeing from his creditors from Riga across the Baltic Sea to England and on to Paris, the “Flying Dutchman” was created in his mind’s eye, showing unmistakable traits of his own identity and his experiences of the dramatic flight from Riga.

Thus Riga is one of the most formative places of his work alongside Dresden, Venice and Bayreuth.

Let yourself be inspired by the special project of the reconstruction and renovation of the German Theatre with the “Wagner Hall”, which is part of an extensive building complex that needs to be renovated.

Above all, the aim was to prevent a shopping centre to replace the theatre, this was already under discussion, despite the building’s special historical background. Behind this major global project is none other than former Latvian Prime Minister Maris Gailis, Chairman of the Riga Richard Wagner Society. A large number of comrades-in-arms such as the current president of Latvia, Egils Levits, the Wagner great-granddaughter Eva Wagner-Pasquier, the German-Baltic and the German- Baltic exchange member of parliament Elisabeth Motschmann with the project manager Dr. Konrad Winckler and Mechthild Foet are represented as well as the Richard Wagner Associations and some sponsors who are involved in the reconstruction and renovation of the building complex.

The project was presented to the European Parliament in Brussels and met with great participation and lively interest.

The laying of the foundation stone will take place at the beginning of 2021 and the completion should be in 2024, if all plans can be kept. We want to be present on both occasions and ask our associations to participate.

The total volume of the renovation is 35 million euros. The amounts received by us (we have been asked to do this as a neutral institution) will be transferred in full to the company in Riga and our only task as a neutral association is to receive and forward the funds. We are following the conditions of the EU for subsidies, which may not be paid directly to the projects, but via neutral cultural institutions in Europe such as RWVI. I cordially invite you, your members and friends to participate financially with all your possibilities in this unique project.

We are convinced that the building complex, (5000 square meters of space), after its redevelopment through its conception as an international music center with its own concert hall and diverse training facilities for classical music and musicology under one roof, is ideally suited to revive a great European and worldwide cultural impulse, connected with the name Richard Wagner, especially in Eastern Europe. Here the famous sentence of Richard Wagner once again shows itself to be particularly stringent:

“Kinder, schafft Neues!”

Of course, the complete programme for the renovation of the entire complex is already available and we are pleased to present it to you on our website in English and German.

In cordial solidarity

Rainer Fineske
Präsident RWV International

View PDF