President's Report 5 2014

Letter From The President:

Welcome to the first Quarterly for 2014.

I hope that our members had a very happy and fulfilling 2013, which included such a rich abundance of Wagner offerings from all over the world...the sort of offerings that are likely to come only once in a century.

This year will be somewhat quieter, but we still have some very special events planned, including another seminar by Antony Ernst in August, this time on Wagner’s musical legacy. I don’t think that anyone who was at Antony’s seminar on the Ring last year will forget his amazing knowledge, erudition and delivery....with barely a glance at his notes!

We started this year on a high note in our February meeting, with three of the performers from the Melbourne Ring taking us backstage and giving us different perspectives on that amazing event.

Speaking of the Melbourne Ring, I am a member of the New York Wagner Society, and receive its regular magazine. The latest one, dated February 2014, contains a lengthy review of “the Ring Down Under.” The reviewer described it as “one of the best Rings anywhere for a very long time…”’ high praise indeed!

I’m afraid that the Bayreuth ticket situation remains unchanged. Wagner Societies are no longer given an allocation of tickets from the box office. However, our membership of the Friends of Bayreuth gave us access to two tickets to the Ring and associated operas later this year, which were gratefully taken up by two of our members.

Your Society is continuing to support a number of scholarships and opportunities for aspiring young singers. Most recently, we have sponsored a major prize (the NSW Wagner Society prize) in the Elizabeth Connell scholarship, which was set up in recognition of that superb Wagnerian soprano, and is organised by the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Foundation. Applicants will enter into heats firstly at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden (judged by Dame Anne Evans and Dennis O’Neill), then at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (judged by Jane Eaglen and James Morris). The finals will take place at the Sydney Conservatorium in September. We have also sponsored a young bass baritone, Christopher Richardson, who participated in the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School at the end of last year. Christopher gained greatly from the experience. His letter of thanks is set out later in this Quarterly. He will be singing for us at our AGM on 25 May.

Finally I must mention the very special Arthur Rackham books, which were donated to the Society, incredibly generously, by one of our members. They are described in detail later in this Quarterly, but I wanted to emphasise how unique they are. I have never seen illustrations quite as vivid as these, particularly given that the books are now over 100 years old. For those of you who enjoy antiquarian gems, I cannot recommend these too highly.

Jane Mathews

The Hon Justice Jane Mathews AO 
President Wagner Society in New South Wales