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Preview: Wagner Operas Podcasts

Wagner Operas Podcasts

Published: Sun, 08 Apr 2018 23:12:39 +0000

Last Build Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2018 03:03:43 +0000

Copyright: 2017 by

Herrmann and Wagner

Sun, 08 Apr 2018 23:12:39 +0000

(image) In this podcast, we explore the link between the musical score of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo, written by composer Bernard Herrmann, and the music of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. The 1959 film, whose themes center on obsession, and the links between love and death, covers similar terrain as Wagner’s opera. As a result, Herrmann’s music at times appears to be a loving homage as well as a tribute to Wagner’s greatest work.

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Parsifal at the Metropolitan Opera - 2018

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 15:32:38 +0000

When Parsifal is playing in town at the M(image) etropolitan Opera it is a not-to-be-missed event.  Luckily this year, I get to see it twice.  My first visit was yesterday at the Saturday matinee.  I was joined by my good friends Francis and his wife Julia, as well as my friend Vlad.  Francis and I went to Bayreuth last summer, so he is well-seasoned in the works of Wagner, but this was Julia and Vlad’s first Parsifal. The reaction of my friends to this production, including musical interludes of their favorite moments from this opera, is at the heart of this podcast.  Also watch this New York Times video program detailing how they get a pool of blood on the stage of the MET for Act II of this opera.


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A Trip to Bayreuth in 1905

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 03:03:26 +0000

A guidebook to the city of Bayreuth, written at the turn of the century, got me thinking: I wonder what a trip to Bayreuth would have been like in those days. In this video podcast we will take a trip to 1905, and listen to the glorious voices that graced the Festspielhaus during the beginning of the 20th century.


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Wagner's Christmas

Sun, 17 Dec 2017 19:03:12 +0000

(image) The Christmas season does not usually bring to mind the music of Richard Wagner, but it should, for on Christmas morning, in the year 1870, Cosima, the composer's wife, woke from her slumbers to a new composition written by her husband to celebrate her 25th of December birthday, and played at their house by her friends.  The composition was the Siegfried Idyll, Wagner’s very special Christmas music.

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Halloween with the Flying Dutchman

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 20:13:43 +0000

(image) The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) is Richard Wagner’s answer to Halloween.  The story of a ghostly sea captain who is doomed to sail the seven seas for eternity is the perfect opera to enjoy during this spooky festive season. 

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Sat, 09 Sep 2017 18:19:46 +0000

My favorite moment in the Ring of the Nibelung occurs in the second act of Die Walküre.  Brünnhilde visits Siegmund to tell him that he will die in battle and that she will take him to Valhalla.  This is the famous “Todesverkündigung,” one of the most famous moments from the trilogy.


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Bayreuth Summer Artists

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 14:22:59 +0000

(image) My journey to Bayreuth this summer was filled with so many great performers by a host of very talented singing actors.  Thinking about the month of August and the great performances I saw and heard, I started wondering what some of these same singers would be like in roles other than the ones I saw them in.  And hence this podcast.  You will hear performances by Stephen Gould, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Catherine Foster, and others.

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A Tribute to Tannhäuser

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 18:51:52 +0000

(image) After so many years of doing these podcasts I realized that I had never done a program dedicated exclusively to one of my favorite Wagner operas, Tannhäuser.  So here is an audio show highlighting some of the great moments from this romantic opera from the composer’s middle period.  You will hear tenor Jonas Kaufmann, baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and conductor Christian Thielemann, among others.

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The Silenced Voices of Bayreuth

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 21:56:09 +0000

(image) Currently at the Bayreuth Festival there is an exhibit called “Silenced Voices.”  It is a tribute to the many singers, artists, and musicians who, during the Third Reich, were banned from the festival because they were Jewish.  In this podcast I pay tribute to three of these distinguished Wagnerians: the legendary soprano Lilli Lehmann, the dashing baritone Herbert Janssen, and the great bass-baritone Friedrich Schorr, who was the greatest Wotan of his time.

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Vincent and Francis visit Bayreuth

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 06:44:41 +0000

(image) During these uncertain days, when the whole world seems to be enveloped by confusion, war, and hate, Vincent and his guest Francis visit the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth and speak about their admiration for Katharina Wagner’s production of Tristan und Isolde, conducted by the dynamic Bayreuth music director Christian Thielemann.


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Wieland Wagner: One Hundred Years

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 00:26:19 +0000

This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Wieland Wagner, the composer's grandson, who in 1951 revolutionized the staging of his grandfather's work when he reopened the Bayreuth Festival after World War II with an astonishing production of Parsifal.  His dark style became known as "New Bayreuth."



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Bayreuth 2017 Opening Night

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 01:45:38 +0000

The Bayreuth Festival opened this week with a new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Wagner's only comedy.  Barrie Kosky, the director of this production has focused on the antisemitism aspect of Wagner's work.  The results make for a very interesting night at the Festspielhaus.


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René Pape at the Festspielhaus

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 15:16:42 +0000

(image) It’s been seven years since my last podcast. During that time many wonderful things happened including a visit to Bayreuth in 2012. Now, this summer, I am very lucky to have a chance to go back to the Green Hill. Bass-baritone René Pape will be singing the role of King Marke in Katharina Wagner's production of Tristan und Isolde.  That's something to be excited about!  This podcast features Mr. Pape, as well as the first music I ever heard at the Festspielhaus.

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Bayreuth 2010: Of Rats and Men and Lohengrin

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

(image) 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 involved setting it in a land overrun by rats. There was laughter at the Festspielhaus and there were loud boos as well.  Ultimately, over the years, the production became one of the most popular at the Green Hill.  I was very lucky to see it in the summer of 2012.  That first summer, though, Jonas Kaufmann played the title role. Soprano Annette Dasch, along with Kaufmann, ignited opening night with their passionate singing.  She stayed with the production throughout its run.

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Bayreuth 2007: Katharina's Meistersinger

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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image)  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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image) 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. Nonetheless, 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

(image) 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. 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

(image) 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

(image) 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

(image) 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!