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Preview: Wagner Operas Podcasts

Wagner Operas Podcasts

Published: Sun, 08 Aug 2010 01:23:00 +0000

Last Build Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 13:33:18 +0000

Copyright: 2006 by

Bayreuth 2010: Of Rats and Men and Lohengrin

Sun, 08 Aug 2010 01:23:00 +0000

No stranger to controversy these days The Bayreuth Festival opened at the end of July with a new production of Lohengrin directed by one of the best-known Regietheater directors, Hans Neuenfels. His tongue-in-cheek take on Richard Wagner's most romantic opera involves setting it in a land overrun by rats. There was laughter at the Festspielhaus, there were loud boos, and there was also the beautiful singing of Jonas Kaufmann and Annette Dasch who ignited opening night with their passionate singing.

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Bayreuth 2007: Katharina's Meistersinger

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 03:06:00 +0000

The Bayreuth Festival opened with a much anticipated production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg directed by Katharina Wagner, daughter of Wolfgang Wagner. As the heir apparent to the family business, Katharina's new production shows that the Festival wants to continue breaking with the traditions of the past. For some, her new production is bold and innovative, while others have dismissed it as insulting Eurotrash. As you will hear, the boos and cheers mixed during this year's opening night.

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Toscanini at Salzburg: The 1936 Meistersinger

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 01:41:00 +0000

Arturo Toscanini was the most sought-after conductor in the 1930's. He became the first Italian to conduct at Bayreuth, and would have continued performing there had the Third Reich not come to power in Germany. He left Bayreuth in protest and went to the Salzburg Festival. His complete recording of Die Meistersinger from 1937 is readily available, but the fragment that exists from a 1936 performance, taken from a shortwave radio recording, is very rare. We present this historical document in this podcast.

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Richard Wagner: Before the Operas

Fri, 09 Mar 2007 04:12:00 +0000

Richard Wagner composed his Symphony in C Major at the age of nineteen. It is clearly the work of a young man influenced by the towering figure and musical innovations of Ludwig van Beethoven. The symphony was given its premiere during the composer's youth, and then remained dormant for decades until Wagner himself resurrected it, leading the orchestra as a birthday gift for his wife Cosima. This private performance took place at Teatro La Fenice in Venice a few months before the composer's death.

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Adrianne Pieczonka & Ben Heppner in Concert

Fri, 10 Nov 2006 19:56:00 +0000

For many opera lovers around the world, Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka became a household word this summer after her critically praised performance as Sieglinde at this year's Bayreuth Festival. In this podcast, recorded from the Ballroom of Rideau Hall in Ottawa, you will hear two of Canada's finest singers together in concert for the first time. Superstar heldentenor Ben Heppner joins Ms. Pieczonka to perform Richard Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, as well as arias from Die Walküre.

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In Memoriam: Astrid Varnay (1918-2006)

Mon, 18 Sep 2006 03:00:00 +0000

On September of this year, soprano Astrid Varnay died in Munich, Germany. She was one of the great Wagnerian sopranos of our times, and one of the artists chosen by Wieland Wagner to re-open the Bayreuth Festival in 1951. Astrid Varnay was one of the most successful sopranos of the 1950's and 60's. In the mid 1970's she came back to the stage in character roles. In this podcast you will hear her in the role of Brünnhilde in the 1955 stereo recording of Siegfried from the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

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Bayreuth Festival 2006: Götterdämmerung

Wed, 16 Aug 2006 02:29:00 +0000

This performance of Götterdämmerung brings to a close the new production of the Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festival. One of the shining stars of the last evening was Hans-Peter König who, in the role of Hagen, is positively chilling in the third scene of Act II. You will also hear Christian Thielemann conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra in Siegfried's Funeral Music, as well as the thrilling voice of Linda Watson as Brünnhilde in the climactic Immolation Scene which ends the work.

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Bayreuth Festival 2006: Siegfried

Tue, 08 Aug 2006 17:43:00 +0000

One of the delights of the past two Bayreuth Festivals was listening to tenor Stephen Gould mesmerize audiences with his impressive performances of Tannhäuser. This summer he is making the crowds at the "Green Hill" go wild once again, this time with his volcanic interpretation of the title role in Siegfried. In this podcast you will hear him sing this role, alongside tenor Gerhard Siegel (Mime), in the Act I Forging Song, and in the final scene of Act III with soprano Linda Watson (Brünnhilde).

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Bayreuth Festival 2006: Die Walküre

Fri, 04 Aug 2006 02:34:00 +0000

 At this year's Bayreuth Festival, one thing is certain: the new production of the Ring is receiving standing ovations thanks to the vision of director Tankred Dorst, the incredible conducting of Christian Thielemann, who leaves no doubt that he is one of the great Wagnerians of our times, and the amazing singing of Adrianne Pieczonka as Sieglinde. In this presentation of excerpts from Die Walküre you will also hear Endrik Wottrich as Siegmund, Linda Watson as Brünnhilde, and Falk Struckmann as Wotan.

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Bayreuth Festival 2006: Das Rheingold

Sat, 29 Jul 2006 03:52:00 +0000

The highlight of this year's Bayreuth Festival is the new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, staged by director Tankred Dorst, and conducted by Christian Thielemann. This new production of Das Rheingold, the prelude to Wagner's "Ring," premiered on July 26, 2006. In this program you will hear extended excerpts from this performance, which was broadcast live to the world on Radio Bavaria. The cast features baritone Falk Struckmann as Wotan.

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The Golden Age of Wagnerian Opera at the MET

Sun, 02 Jul 2006 16:32:00 +0000

Most critics will agree that the richest period of Wagnerian singing in The United States took place during the 1940's, and '50's at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. This podcast pays homage to the incredible talent of those historic decades, and features performances by Lauritz Melchior, Helen Traubel, Herbert Janssen, Ramón Vinay, Margaret Harshaw, Otto Edelmann and others. Their voices are heard in live excerpts from Tristan und Isolde, Tannhäuser, and Die Walküre.

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Bayreuth 2006 Opening Night: A Preview

Wed, 21 Jun 2006 19:24:00 +0000

The Bayreuth Festival will open this year on July 25 with a performance of Der fliegende Holländer, Wagner's first "mature" opera. This production is a controversial modern, Freudian staging of the work that has been greeted with boos year after year since the first time that it premiered in 2003. In this podcast we will listen to excerpts from last year's production (whose cast is almost identical to this summer's scheduled artists) as well as classic and rare examples of past performances of this romantic opera.

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The 2005 Bayreuth Tristan und Isolde

Sun, 04 Jun 2006 04:05:00 +0000

In contrast to the first "complete" recording ever made at the Bayreuth Festival in 1928, which was the subject of our two previous podcasts, we now offer excerpts from the latest Tristan und Isolde from the Festspielhaus. This modern dress production premiered on July 25, 2005, and the action of the opera takes place aboard an ocean liner. This "Ship of Fools" production, as the European press dubbed it, stars soprano Nina Stemme and tenor Robert Dean Smith. The Bayreuth Orchestra is under the direction of Eiji Oue.

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The 1928 Bayreuth Tristan und Isolde (Part 2)

Sun, 21 May 2006 00:04:00 +0000

In our second and last podcast in this series celebrating the historic recording of the 1928 Bayreuth production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, we take a look at the Act II Love Duet and the last act of this work. Although Act III was the most heavily edited portion of this entire recording, and most of the demanding music of this complex score is not heard on this recording, it is interesting to get a glimpse of what these memorable singers must have been like during the actual performances of the work during that summer's festival.

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The 1928 Bayreuth Tristan und Isolde (Part 1)

Mon, 15 May 2006 10:13:00 +0000

This podcast presents excerpts from the 1928 recording of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Technical difficulties during this period of recorded history prevented British Columbia Records from capturing the audio during an actual performance. Instead, the three acts were recorded between performances in an empty hall. It is a landmark recording, even though there are extensive cuts throughout the work. The cast includes two of the great Wagnerians of the 1920's: Nanny Larsen-Todsen and Gunnar Graarud as the immortal lovers.

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The Italian Wagnerians

Sun, 07 May 2006 15:37:00 +0000

For many years, Italian was a second language to Wagner's operas, as scores of Italian singers performed the composer's music in their native tongue instead of in the original German. Based on his Italian performances, tenor Giuseppe Borgatti became the first Italian heldentenor to be invited to perform at Bayreuth. Although, after the war, most Italian opera houses presented Wagner in German, great post-war artists such as Mario Del Monaco, Renata Tebaldi, and Maria Callas became the last generation to sing Wagner's music in Italian.

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Performance Practices in PARSIFAL (Part 3)

Thu, 27 Apr 2006 23:35:00 +0000

In the conclusion of this three-part series, we look back at the work of American baritone Clarence Whitehill, who excelled in Wagnerian roles around the world, and first performed at the Bayreuth Festival in 1904. The program also features the work of some of the best Wagner conductors on the scene today. We highlight musical excerpts from Donald Runnicles at the Vienna State Opera, Valery Gergiev at the MET, and Pierre Boulez leading the 2004 controversial staging of Parsifal from the enfant terrible of German art, Christoph Schlingensief.

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Performance Practices in PARSIFAL (Part 2)

Sat, 22 Apr 2006 15:23:00 +0000

The second part of the show brings us past the Bayreuth Nazi Era, and all the way up to the 1951 re-opening of the Festival after the war. This podcast features a recording from the early 1920's where the original Bayreuth Parsifal bells can be heard (they were destroyed during World War II), a recording of the Good Friday Spell conducted by Siegfried Wagner, the composer's son, and an excerpt from the landmark 1951 Wieland Wagner Bayreuth production of this opera, featuring baritone George London and tenor Wolfgang Windgassen.

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Performance Practices in PARSIFAL (Part 1)

Mon, 17 Apr 2006 02:08:00 +0000

In our premiere Podcast, we will explore the various ways in which Wagner's last opera, Parsifal, has been performed since it first saw the light of day at the Bayreuth Festival of 1882. In this program we will focus on the way that conductors have approached this musical score. It is our hope that you will enjoy the musical numbers that we have selected for you.  My sincere thanks goes out to my friend Keith Barnes who provided me with the rare musical excerpts that you will hear in this program.  This program could not have been done without his help. Enjoy the show!

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You Found Us! -- Welcome!

Tue, 11 Apr 2006 02:06:00 +0000

After almost two years online, is adding a new dimension to the website: podcasting! In a few short days this site's first podcast will hit the air.  We are very excited to be able to bring you a fascinating program about Wagner's last opera Parsifal and the way that conductors have approached the work since its premiere in 1882. The program will include rare highlights from Bayreuth recordings dating back to the late 1920's featuring bass Alexander Kipnis, conductor Karl Muck, and Siegfried Wagner, the composer's son. Hope to see you back here soon!