President's Report December 2011

Letter from the President

Welcome to the final newsletter for 2011.

Your Committee has been working energetically (some members, it seems, have been writing emails almost around the clock) in organising an exciting series of events for next year. Indeed, we have such an abundance of riches that, in addition to our regular functions, we will be participating in some special events in 2012 which will probably double as fundraisers. You will be receiving details of these events as soon as they become available.

The Hamburg Das Rheingold - Brisbane

The Queensland Premier, the Hon Anna Bligh, recently announced two coups de theatre: the first that the Bolshoi Ballet will come only to Brisbane &, more significantly for Wagnerians, that our patron Simone Young will conduct the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Hamburg State Opera in two concert performances of Das Rheingold, the opening opera in Richard Wagner's greatest work, The Ring Cycle. In 2000 in Vienna, Ms Young made musical history when she became the first woman ever to conduct the complete Ring Cycle.

Ms Young will also conduct the performance of Mahler's mighty Symphony No. 2, known as the Resurrection Symphony that will feature soloists from the Hamburg State Opera.

Other Matters

We have also been endeavouring to increase the mix at our events, with a greater variety of performances and deliveries. We want to be relevant and interesting to a wide range of people, so that we attract not only seasoned Wagner lovers, but also those who are potentially open to the lure of the Master's magic.

At the last Society function, on 16th October, Lyndon Terracini, the artistic director of Opera Australia, told a packed Goethe auditorium about the plans for the 2013 Melbourne Ring Cycle. His address was informative, engaging, and at times very humorous. Your editor has brilliantly encapsulated, later in this Newsletter, the information obtained both from Lyndon's address and from speakers at an Opera Australia presentation three days later. The only thing that I can add relates to the future, beyond 2013. Lyndon told us that after 2013 it is proposed that there will be a performance of the Ring Cycle in Melbourne every three years. The 2013 production will be repeated in 2016 and 2019, although not necessarily with the same cast. After that, a new production will be mounted in 2022. What a change this will make for us Australians: to have access to our own Ring Cycle every third year!

Speaking of the 2013 Ring, Opera Australia has developed an Artist Sponsorship Programme. A list of the major performers and their sponsorship amounts is listed in the Newsletter. If any reader is interested in sponsoring a performer, I suggest you contact Nicholas Selman of Opera Australia.

At the last Committee meeting, on 4 October, we discussed the Society's fundraising strategies and the amounts to be allocated to particular causes in the lead-up to the 2013 bicentenary. The Society has long provided financial support for awards and scholarships, particularly for singers who propose to study in Germany. The following resolutions were passed:

1. That support for the Berlin New Music Opera Award continue in 2012 and 2013, capped at $2,500 for each year;
2. That support for other Awards and Scholarships continue in 2012 and 2013, and be capped at $2,500 in total for each year;
3. That forms requesting donations to the Society include options for donations both for Wagner 2013 and for awards and scholarships for singers and other artists;
4. That the combined annual funding commitment of $5,000 be met from specific donations for these programmes, with any surplus donations carried forward to the following year, and any shortfall made up from the Society's working account.
A decision was also made at the meeting to increase admission prices to the Society's functions. From the beginning of 2012, the admission price will be $20.00 for members and $25.00 for non-members. This decision was made after considering the cost of the hire of the Goethe venue, the cost of the afternoon teas, and the amounts sometimes paid to artists and/or speakers. Under the old regime, the Society was barely breaking even, and sometimes suffering a loss. When one compares the cost of comparable events, it is still, I think, extremely good value.

The other matter of interest from the last meeting was the fascinating presentation by Mike Day and Belinda Middlebrook, from the UTS, about their concept for a project called "Wagner Licht." This is described in detail by Katie French later in this newsletter.

Finally, I would like to give my thanks to those who have done so much for the Society this year. And I have to start with Roger Cruickshank, whose massive contribution goes back many years now. I had no idea at all, until earlier this year, how much work and responsibility Roger has been shouldering over the past years. Without his commitment and energy, I hate to think what might have happened to the Society. Most of the tasks that Roger previously undertook on his own are now spread across various members of the Committee. And we still find that we are working overtime!

The other people who deserve our special thanks are Renata and Herman Junker. Members might not realise it, but they provide the delicious afternoon teas which we devour after each of our functions at the Goethe Institute. They donate their time and energy, and I cannot imagine what we would do without their generosity and commitment, not to mention their culinary skills!

Jane Mathews