Monday, January 18, 2010

"The Reluctant Wagnerian"

Yesterday I attended a talk by Ed Tapper, a music teacher and owner of the used-CD shop Orpheus, called "Fom the Synagogue to the Stage." It was sponsored by the New England Opera Club.

Tapper played numerous selections, and to my surprise, one of them included Helen Traubel. But instead of singing Wagner, she sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Apparently, Traubel sang Wagner only reluctantly, and this is the kind of music she preferred to sing! I suppose Rudolf Bing did her a favor by firing her from the Met after she sang at a night club.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lecture titled "Tristan and Ecstasy: Perspectives on Isolde's Transfiguration"

Last Saturday's talk by Professor Hans Rudolf Vaget was fabulous. But that's not really surprising. Prof. Vaget is one of the best Wagnerian minds alive today. The lecture was fascinating, and the speaker erudite. He played two rare musical examples: "Träume," a Wesendonk song sung by Kirsten Flagstad, and "Das Liebestod" (Tristan und Isolde), sung by Jessye Norman.

Even for a seasoned Wagnerian like me, there was so much to learn and savor. Prof. Vaget went over the libretto of "Das Liebestod," a wonderful exercise, which enhanced my appreciation of this incredible piece of music.

We also learned that Wagner considered "Träume" even closer to his heart than Tristan und Isolde.

Friday, January 8, 2010

May 21, 2010, concert

I have started preparing for our May 21 concert at the Longy School of Music. It promises to be exceptionally wonderful, with many beautiful excerpts. Titled "Exquisite Love Duets and Solos by Richard Wagner," the concert will include love duets from Tristan und Isolde and Lohengrin. In addition, we will most likely have Rienzi's Prayer, Elsa's Dream, the two Lohengrin arias, and Bruennhilde. Our tenor is the wonderful Alan Schneider, our two sopranos are Joanna Porackova and Andrea Matthews, both excellent singers. The pianist is Jeffrey Brody, who has much experience in this repertoire.

All details will be posted on our Web site in the upcoming weeks.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Update on the Boston Wagner Society

Maestro Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, has joined the Boston Wagner Society as an honorary member. We are thrilled to have him as part of our group.

After his most successful all-Wagner concert with soprano Linda Watson last fall, I asked him to join us, and to my delight he accepted. Maestro Zander was conducting Wagner for the first time, and it was a most amazing concert, thrilling, in fact.

It is very exciting to have Maestro Zander be a member of the Boston Wagner Society.

Yesterday the board met for its annual meeting. It was gratifying to see how well our Society is doing.

"Tristan and Ecstasy" lecture

This Saturday, January 9, 2010, the distinguished scholar Hans Rudolf Vaget, Professor Emeritus at Smith College, will give a talk titled "Tristan and Ecstasy: Perspectives on Isolde's Transfiguration."

Time: 2 p.m.
Place: Orientation Room, Boston Public Library, Copley Square (enter on Dartmouth Street), first floor
Free to All

Professor Vaget is a stimulating and erudite speaker. His knowledge of Wagner ranges deep and wide. He was the designated speaker at the Bayreuth Festival, sponsored by the Wagner Society of New York. He is the cofounder of the Goethe Society of North America and an award-winning writer.