President's Report December 1999

Dear Members,

In May I was lucky enough to spend a month in Europe on my way to the San Francisco Ring and was able to enjoy opera in Dresden, Vienna, Prague and Berlin. Amongst the works I saw Rienzi, Lohengrin and Dutchman and Rheingold.

Rienzi at the Staatsoper in Vienna was interesting as this is a work I had not seen. The music was very well played and sung and Glen Winslade sang Rienzi strongly though he did seem to tire towards the end. The production, an allegory on National Socialism, was rather bleak and violent but clearly made the point that power corrupts. It was a surprise to run into Arthur Carter, one of our members, at interval. Lohengrin at the beautiful Dresden Opera was vastly different. Set entirely indoors it was a visually beautiful production well sung and most enjoyable. In Berlin Dutchman was at the Deutsche Oper and Rheingold at the Staatsoper. Both were interesting productions and reasonably well sung though I was somewhat disappointed with the orchestra under Barenboim in Rheingold.

The San Francisco Ring was interesting with some very memorable scenes. The orchestra was highly praised and though Jane Eaglen was ill she did sing most beautifully and John Tomlinson was superb as Wotan. Wolfgang Schmidt, not my favourite Siegfried, seemed to be singing rather more lyrically than in the past and the production treated the character of Siegfried more kindly which made the role more attractive. Gà ¶tterdämmerung started very well but fell apart badly in the second act when the momentum seemed to get lost. Fortunately the final act was outstanding and the overall impression was of satisfaction.

Home again and the year seems to have passed very quickly and we have enjoyed some very special events at our meetings. Those of you at our September meeting shared a very special experience when Stephen Mould and Warwick Fyfe were our guests. Stephen's report of his time in Europe, as the 1998 Bayreuth Scholar, was most interesting and then to our delight Stephen and Warwick performed a program of Strauss and Wagner songs. It was a very exciting afternoon and everyone present was impressed with the quality of the performance. We thank them very much and wishe them both every success in the future.

In September Terence Watson gave a most interesting talk on "Power in the Ring". Unfortunately I was unable to be present on this occasion but many members have told me how much they enjoyed the lecture and I am pleased to tell you that it will be published as an Occasional Paper in the near future. This is the second paper we have published this year ( the first was Peter Nicholson's "Wagner as Artist"*) and it is very gratifying to reflect on the depth of knowledge of so many of our members and the willingness with which they share their interest and ideas.

Our next function is the Christmas party and I do hope as many of you as possible will join with us to celebrate. On behalf of all members of the Committee I would like to wish you all a very happy festive season and hope the New Year will be a happy and healthy one.