President's Report April 2011

A Letter from The President April 2011

Welcome to the second newsletter for 2011.

Annual General Meeting

The Society held its Annual General Meeting on 22nd May, the 198th birthday of the Master. Those of you who were present will know that there were a number of new members elected onto the Committee. I was honoured to be elected President. The other Committee members are set out below.

Retiring Committee Members

I know that all of you will join with me in extending our heartfelt thanks to the retiring members of the Committee: Julie Carroll, Michael Moore and Gabrielle Bremner-Moore. Each of them has put a great deal of time and energy into their role, and has contributed significantly to the causes of the Society. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

Roger Cruickshank

What can I say to express our gratitude to our outgoing President, Roger Cruickshank? Roger has been President of the Society for almost ten years now. During that time he has given his all for the benefit of the Society and its members, and we have been treated to a feast of fascinating events at Society functions. I am only now starting to realise and appreciate how much work Roger has been putting into the society affairs over those years. What we see at the meetings is but the tip of the iceberg.

We will sorely miss Roger's eloquence and erudition, both in these pages and at our meetings. He is a very hard act to follow. The only consolation is that he has agreed to remain on the Committee, so that we can continue to have access to his wealth of wisdom and experience, not to mention his fresh ideas and innovative approach. Thank you for everything, Roger!

Meeting of the New Committee

The new committee met just over a week after the AGM. The only absentee was Tony Jones, who was in Singapore. However Tony had very helpfully made a number of written suggestions before he left, which were adopted with enthusiasm and thanks.

The Committee agreed that membership was a priority issue. It was proposed that we commence a drive to follow up non-financial members. It was also agreed that, by way of an additional incentive to join the Society, non-members in future will be charged $20 to attend meetings. Members will continue to pay $15.

The Committee has arranged to meet four times a year: in April, July, October and January. The next Committee meeting will be held on 25th July. If any of you want any matter to be raised at this meeting, please contact myself or one of the other Committee Members.

Membership: A Milestone

Speaking of membership, I am delighted to report that we have recently passed a significant milestone: we have registered our thousandth member! Not all of them are current, of course, but that is a different matter. I would like to congratulate Rainald and Pauline Roesch, who have acquired an unforgettable membership number.


One of Tony Jones' recommendations was that we establish a membership committee as well as two interlocking sub-committees, for Activities and Marketing. The Committee unanimously adopted these suggestions, and the following people were voted onto the sub-committees:

Membership sub-committee: Dennis Mather (chair) 
Colleen Chesterman
Peter Murray
Activities (Events) sub-committee: Tony Jones (chair)
Colleen Chesterman
Katie French
Leona Geeves
Jane Mathews (ex officio)
Marketing sub-committee: Tony Jones (chair)
Leona Geeves
Peter Murray
Jane Mathews (ex officio)

All three sub-committees have now met, and have set their priorities and goals. The membership sub-committee has set a goal of increasing the number of current members to 500 by the end of 2013, in time for the Melbourne Ring. The Events sub-committee has the dual task of organising regular Society functions, as well as looking forward to the bicentenary celebrations, and determining where the Society should be concentrating its attentions. The marketing sub-committee determined to focus on the forthcoming Met screenings of Die Walkure, with an information flyer about the Society and a membership application to be distributed to patrons at the theatres. In addition, an appeal for donations has been sent out to all members.

The following passages were written by Tony Jones, the chair of both the Events and the Marketing sub-committees:

'Both the Events and Marketing committees met over the long weekend and started gathering ideas and considering initiatives that will add to the value and enjoyment derived from being a member. We are being careful not to abandon aspects of the Society's operations that are much liked and appreciated whilst experimenting with new concepts that will create a strong sense of community, learning and enjoyment. We will be looking to increase the range of organisations we relate to and share benefits with, at the same time as creating social environments in which to meet and hear the personal experiences of other members!

'Look out for subtle changes to our calendar and new ways to participate in the activities of the Society. Most importantly, please feel free to contribute your ideas and give feedback, as well as participating: your Committee cannot do everything alone!'

I entirely endorse Tony's comments. In particular, I would like to emphasise that membership of the sub-committees is not restricted to Committee members. It was agreed at the meeting that interested members of the Society should be able to join any of the sub-committees. So if any of you is interested in doing so, I encourage you to contact the chair of the sub-committee you would like to join.

The Hamburg Ring Cycle

An amazing number of Australians attended the second Ring Cycle in Hamburg between 1st and 10th April 2011. Approximately 160 went with Renaissance Tours, staying in four different hotels. Numerous others attended individually, leading to a total of well over 200 Ozzies in that northern German outpost. Everywhere you turned you saw a familiar face from back home. One of the bartenders at the opera house asked why there were so many English speakers, and refused to believe that it was because the audience was dominated by Australians.

The magnet, of course, was Simone Young. She did a superb job of conducting the Opera Orchestra with power and precision. You will find our webmaster's assessment of the experience on the Society's website. I am in complete agreement with him. [Either click on the following website address or copy it and past it into your browser:…. Editor] Apart from the wonderful orchestral sound, there was some magnificent singing, so that musically it was a huge success. To mention a few of the more outstanding singers: Katerina Dalayman was a truly great Brunnhilde. I was amazed to discover that she had come in at very short notice. Falk Struckmann has always been a most impressive Wotan, and this was no exception. Wolfgang Koch was a great Alberich. I suspect that we will be hearing a lot more about him in the future. I see that he is scheduled to sing Hans Sachs at Covent Garden later this year. Our own Deborah Humble excelled as Erda and Waltraute. Christian Franz sang both Siegmund and Siegfried - a feat which was made easier by the fact that this was a more drawn-out Ring than many. He appeared to be straining at first, and some of us were very concerned as to how he would make it to the end, particularly in the opera Siegfried. However, to give him his due, he preformed creditably to the end.

The real talking point was the production, by Claus Guth. It had some strange features. For example, Scene 1 of Das Rheingold took place on a very large bed, with the three Rhinedaughters as barely pubescent nymphets having pillow fights with each other. Alberich turned up as a gardener, watering the pot plants. That was the only water you saw in the whole scene. As Katie French astutely observed, this was a metaphor for the bed of the Rhine! Some aspects of the production had many members of the audience scratching their heads with perplexity. But generally, by the end of Gà ¶tterdammerung, it had all come together, and there was genuinely ecstatic applause for all aspects of the experience. Most of us were truly sad that it was all over.

Jane Mathews