Monday, November 2, 2009

"Wagner Outside the Ring"

The Boston Wagner Society's talk by John Louis DiGaetani on October 31 at the Boston Public Library was a success. Prof. DiGaetani was an entertaining and informative speaker. I learned many new things about Wagner and his music, and members seemed to be genuinely pleased.

If you attended this event, please tell us of your impressions.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Wagner Society of Ohio is presenting a scrumptious symposium on November 6-8. Speakers are Speight Jenkins, William Berger, John Hale, James Mulder, and Saul Lilienstein. There will also be a special recital with Julia Rolwing and Lloyd Arriola, who performed for the Boston Wagner Society in May 2009.

This is a very exciting event. Jenkins will speak about what it takes to make a Ring; Hale about the ring, chalice, sword, and spear; Mulder about the Ring's design and technical production; Lilienstein on Wagner's orchestra; Berger on broadcasting the Ring. There will also be archival film on Wagner. A wonderful event!

If anyone is going and would like to write a review of it for our newsletter, please contact us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

2003 "Parsifal" on Sirius

This morning I heard Act 1 of Parsifal on Sirius satellite radio. The conductor seemed excellent, and I was surprised to see that this was Gergiev. Normally, I don't like Gergiev's conducting, at least with the Ring Cycle. But here was expansive, thoughtful music with perfect tempi. A minor miracle.
Listening to Wagner first thing in the morning can be a bit problematic, as not all my cells are awake yet, and I need all of them to let this profound, enormous music in. But for some reason, it worked with Parsifal. I don't think it would have worked with the Ring, as there is too much Sturm und Drang in it. Parsifal, though, is gentler on the mind and body and akin to a dream state, from which I had just awakened.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The "Ring" in 70 minutes

I am starting to prepare my talk on the Ring Cycle next month. I have about 70 minutes. How does one introduce total novices to this monumental work in such a short time? I did this last year also, and it seemed to work. Naturally, I left out a huge amount of material. But I couldn't end my talk without showing a video of "Leb wohl," possibly the most moving excerpt in all of Wagner. It seemed to me that the audience watched transfixed, so I suppose that was a good segment to show. Besides, this is the one that persuaded James Morris to sing Wagner, long before he became the reigning Wotan at the Met and elsewhere.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I am busily preparing for Dr. John DiGaetani's talk and book signing titled "Wagner Outside the Ring." This will take place on Saturday, October 31, at 2 p.m., at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square.

There is also an all-Wagner concert coming up in November with soprano Linda Watson. This is with the Boston Philharmonic. It should be wonderful.

Running the Boston Wagner Society on a volunteer basis is a joy, but sometimes it can be very frustrating. There is so much to do during the season, and it's hard to work it in around my work deadlines. We have very few volunteers. I am very grateful for those volunteers that we do have. They do a wonderful job. But we need more volunteers. Still, despite all the hard work, it is a very much worthwhile enterprise, as I feel I am contributing to the cultural scene in Boston and its environs. I am also meeting wonderful people, members of the Boston Wagner Society as well as scholars and musicians. It feels great to have such a wide network.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We received the yearbook of the Richard-Wagner-Verband International, and our society is listed there. Wagner societies can also list all their yearly activities, which we have not done yet because it is quite expensive. However, we can get ideas for our own society from reading what other societies are doing, so in that sense this yearbook is very valuable.

I counted 136 Wagner societies around the world, including places such as Zagreb, Tartu (Estonia), Montevideo, Charkiw (Ukraine), Beijing, Athens, and Bangkok.

It's nice to feel a kinship with so many societies in places both near and far-flung.