President's Report August 2004

A Letter from the President

Dear Members

Your committee

I'm pleased to advise that Michael Moore is our new Treasurer, in succession to Elle Rasink, who resigned at our May AGM. I know you will join me in welcoming Mr Moore to the committee and in thanking him for making his time and experience available for us. With Mary Haswell, whom we welcomed as our new Secretary in the previous Newsletter, we now have a full committee.

Recent Society Events

On Saturday 22 May, Wagner's birthday, we held our AGM, followed by a recital by the four Sydney Conservatorium opera students whom we sponsored in German language courses at the Goethe Institut this year - Erin O'Connor, Emily Garth, Rebecca Hilder and Jessica Pratt, accompanied by Sharolyn Kimmorley, the 2003 Bayreuth Scholar. This recital of German operatic music and lieder was an outstanding success, and it gave members the opportunity to hear the quality and depth of talent of these young students from the Conservatorium, some of whom we hope will go on to become the next generation of young stars of opera in Australia, and perhaps internationally.

These singers and Sharolyn then joined us as our guests at afternoon tea, and led us in singing "alles Gute zum Geburtstag" to our birthday boy. The winners of our afternoon raffle were Leona Geeves, who took the first prize of two premium tickets to a winter season performance by Opera Australia (and chose Rosenkavalier), Alister Wong who won two A-reserve tickets (and chose the Barber of Seville), and Julian Block, who won a Ring Cycle CD set featuring John Wegner as Wotan (kindly donated by Judy and Joseph Ferfoglia.)

I'm delighted to report that we will be making further German language scholarships available to students from the Conservatorium next year, and that we made a donation of $2,000 to Jessica Pratt, who left in early July to take up a number of scholarships in Israel and Italy from which she will return in March next year. We look forward to hearing these scholarship students, and Jessica, singing for us next year.

On Sunday 18 July, Dr Antony Ernst gave a talk on Ring productions which is reviewed elsewhere in this Newsletter [p. 5]. Our false starts in the printing of Antony's book on the Ring entitled "The Once and Future Ring" have continued, with the launch which we had advertised not taking place. However, the delays have now come to an end and the book should be appearing soon - certainly in time for our September 19 meeting.

Forthcoming Events

Ring Cycle preparation package: 0n Sunday 19 September and Sunday 17 October the Society will be offering members a range of views on how to prepare for the Ring. In September, Jim Leigh has kindly offered to present the film of the Making of the [Solti] Ring Cycle and to offer advice, based on years of Bayreuth attendance (among other Ring performances), on the best way to prepare yourself for the artistic marathon. At the October function, Dr Dennis Mather, Dr Terence Watson and I will be covering a variety of aspects of the Ring, including the music (by Dennis Mather).

On Sunday 7 November , we will hold our last function of the year, just two days before the first cycle of the Neidhardt Ring starts in Adelaide. PLEASE NOTE - the date has changed because a number of members have indicated that they will be attending the Victorian Wagner Society's seminar on 13-14 November and others will be setting off to drive to Adelaide

This last meeting is always a light-hearted affair, and we will have a Members' Market so that you can downsize your Wagner CD collection or recycle those unwanted presents of Wagner paraphernalia you have collected over the years - and know that everything is going to good homes. [See p. 10 for more details] We will also show a DVD entitled "Sing Faster! The Stagehand's Ring Cycle", which in 55 minutes tells the story of a production of the Ring solely from the viewpoint of the San Francisco Opera's union stagehands.


Ten members have obtained tickets to this year's Bayreuth Festival through our Society: Armand Bartos, Barbara de Rome, Jennifer Ferns, Pauline Holgerson, Renate and Herman Junker, Naomi Kaldor, Barbara McNulty, and Jeffrey Smart and Ermes de Zan. They will be attending the third Ring cycle, which will end the era of Jurgen Flimm's Ring, although what will replace it 2006 is anyone's guess, as you will read in this Newsletter.

Bayreuth Costume

Nearly 2 years ago (in Issue 90 of this Newsletter, December 2002) I reported that Mr Richard King, a former president of the Society and an honorary life member, found something remarkable when he was cleaning out his linen cupboard - a costume from Bayreuth! Herr Reinhard Heinrich, who was costume designer for the 1998 bi-centenary production of Meistersinger (the German government's birthday gift to Australia) brought with him a sailor's costume - trousers, jacket and sailor's cap - from the 1978 Kupfer production of the Flying Dutchman at Bayreuth, for which Hr Heinrich was also costume designer. Colin Jones, who was at the time a member of our committee, took the costume around auction houses to have it appraised, and continued to show it to anyone was interested, without getting an enthusiastic offers. A few months ago, the costume sold at auction for $60. As Mr Jones commented ruefully after the hours of effort he had put into selling the costume, had he known that it would go so cheaply, he would have kept it and made a donation to the Society! Thank you Colin for your hard work in trying to get us a better price for this item. 

Members Abroad

Mr Paul Curran, a longstanding member of our Society, will direct a season of Tannhauser for La Scala in February 2005. Some years ago Mr Curran gave a talk at a seminar we held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, discussing opera production, particularly in St Petersberg when he worked at the Mariinsky Theatre. We congratulate Mr Curran on his appointment - the first time, as far as we know, any member of our Society has directed a Wagner opera! La Padania announced this with the words ""¦ dai nomi importanti come Paul Curran che curerà  la regia del "Tannhauser" di Richard Wagner, direttore Jeffrey Tate (interpreti Franz Josef Selig, Robert Gambill e Adrianne Pieczonka a febbraio 2005)." An important name indeed.

Roger Cruickshank 24 July 2004