This is my last Newsletter for the Wagner Society of Scotland, and I would like to thank all those who have helped me to produce it over the years, particularly Dale Bilsland and my husband Ian McLennan. Ian has done more than his share of stuffing envelopes and dashing to the post box. As no-one has come forward to edit future newsletters, I am sure the Committee will keep you informed of forthcoming events and important decisions. Happily, Gabriele Kuhn has agreed to replace Dale as Bayreuth Officer and John Anderton has kindly agreed to stay on as Secretary for another year. We are most grateful to John for continuing in this essential role. With the ongoing uncertainty about Covid, you will see that the Committee has had to make a number of disappointing decisions about future meetings.
We regret that we have had to cancel the planned 2022 Wagner course at Gartmore. This is because the cost of a three-night stay had escalated significantly, and the hotel’s terms required us to commit considerable funds upfront when we would have no idea how many members would choose to attend. We believe that our regular tutor, David Nice had planned to present Meistersingers to the audience there and to his regular Opera In Depth audience online. We will be approaching David to see if this can be done in association with the Wagner Society of Scotland. The course will be in August/September but at present we do not have specific dates.
Although we had provisionally booked Newbattle Abbey, this is no longer available and the Society of Musicians venue where we usually meet, was deemed unsuitable for social distancing. If anyone has any other ideas, please let Robert know as soon as possible (email@example.com).
Covid permitting, Bayreuth expects to stage a full Festival in 2022 without seating restrictions, and on this basis the Stiftung will be offering the normal 250 places. This will enable them to catch up with those who were unable to attend in 2020 and 2021. Our 2020 Scholar, Tomas Leakey, will attend but our Society will not be able to offer a second Scholarship. We plan to resume our Scholarship in 2023.
To help us celebrate 25 years as a distinct society, Honorary Member Linda Esther Gray described her distinguished operatic career, and played extracts of various Wagnerian sopranos including Lotte Lehmann, Birgit Nilsson, Kirsten Flagstad and of course herself, singing extracts from Tannhaüser, Lohengrin and Tristan and Isolde, among others. There was a lively exchange of views among the audience in the room and on Zoom. We are grateful to Derek Williams for chairing the meeting and managing Zoom along with the audio-visual technology.
Our attempts to hold meetings at the Edinburgh Society of Musicians have been abandoned as too few people were able or willing to attend in person. Hence, we shall continue to hold meetings online for the foreseeable future. If this decision results in any change in the programme, we will let you know as soon as possible. Zoom meetings will begin at 6.30pm and can be booked via the drop-down menu ‘Events’ on the Society’s website (http://www.wagnerscotland.net). Full details of these events will be sent out by email by our secretary a week before. Members-£5; Non-Members-£10 and Students-Free
5th December 2021 AGM and Online talk by Tomas Leakey
As our Bayreuth scholar, Tomas Leakey has been unable to attend the festival for two years because of Covid. He will talk instead on playing Wagner’s works in reduced orchestration, featuring the Mahler Players, an orchestra based in the Highlands of which he is Music Director.
16th January 2022 Wagner: An imagined symphony – Prof Matthew King
A talk on ‘Symphony: Richard Wagner in Venice’, a recently commissioned work by Professor King which makes use of late unfinished sketches by Wagner. These date from a time in Wagner’s life when he seems to have retired from operatic work and focused on instrumental composition. Matthew is Professor of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
13th February 2022 Die Meistersinger: Renunciation of Self and the World – John Willmett
John, a former music teacher and currently organist at Bearsden Cross Church in Glasgow, will discuss how Wagner’s Die Meistersinger is mythicized in the symbols of the world of the medieval guilds and articulated in the Romantic understanding of the music of J S Bach.
13th March 2022 Scandal in opera and in Ife – Alberto Massimo
Alberto will guide us through key moments in Wagner’s life which caused a scandal, including his constant borrowing, his debts and weakness for extravagant gifts for his friends. He asks if these had any effect on his musical compositions. A music graduate, Maestro Alberto Massimo studied conducting and was Maestro di Capella at the Basilica di Santa Cecilia. He is currently Director of Music at Greenbank Parish Church, Edinburgh.
Any WSoS member who has a relevant presentation which they might be prepared to deliver at short notice via Zoom should discuss this in the first instance with our Chair, Derek Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Oper Leipzig will perform all 13 Wagnerian operas in chronological order over June/July 2022. Full details are at https://www.oper-leipzig.de/en/wagner22
The RWVI Congress 2022 – will be held in Madrid from 24 – 28 February 2022. Further details are at https://www.richard-wagner.org/rwvi/en/news/all-news/?collection_id=3459
The Longborough Die Walküre from June this year is available to view until 25th February 2022 – https://lfo.org.uk/event/die-walküre-stream-for-free
Glyndebourne plans to revive the Nikolaus Lehnhoff Tristan und Isolde, fully staged in 2023 and we can look forward to a new Parsifal in 2025.
September 2023 will also see the start of the new Royal Opera House Ring directed by Barry Kosky and conducted by Sir Anthony Pappano.
The new Stefan Herheim Ring is under way at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin with three cycles in November and January. It is conducted by our Patron Sir Donald Runnicles, who will also be conducting the new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in June 2022.