President's Report March 1999

Dear Members

So much has happened since my last report to you and it is clear that the success of the Adelaide Ring has given Wagner Societies around Australia a new breath of life. It was wonderful to meet members from the other Australian Societies as well as those from England, Europe and the States.

Part of the excitement was meeting overseas visitors in Sydney and sharing our beautiful city with them. Amongst those visiting Sydney were Danila Mendoza and Verena Kossoto from New York. Those members who have attended the New York Wagner Society lectures in Bayreuth will remember Verena. Elizabeth Samson from Los Angeles was here for a few days as were Peter Haggblom, Tapio Eriksson and Teijo Saaari from Finland.

While attending a performance at the Sydney Opera House recently the complete stranger sitting beside me asked "Did you go to Adelaide?" and launched into his impressions with enthusiasm. It was his first Ring and the performances had made an indelible impression.

We were delighted to have Stephen Phillips, the Managing Director of the State Opera of South Australia, as our guest speaker at the February meeting this year and to hear first hand what had gone into the years of planning for such a massive undertaking. Following its triumphant success we are delighted to hear that the South Australian Government has set up a Consortium to develop a Management Model for a possible new Australian Ring at a future date.

While I was in Adelaide Oswald Bauer, whom some members met at dinner at the Bennelong in November, made a point of repeating his thanks and saying how much he had enjoyed the evening particularly the enthusiasm and knowledge of those present.

The Richard Wagner Society of South Australia and those others responsible for arranging the International Seminar, displays, films, lectures and social gatherings that kept us all involved are to be heartily congratulated. Our time in Adelaide was busy, interesting and stimulating.

As a result of Adelaide, Olive Coonan and I had a brief meeting just before Christmas with Heath and Liz Lees who are founding members of the New Zealand Wagner Society. Heath is anxious to try and establish Australasian Wagner links and as a result of our conversation some 30 members of the New Zealand Society are expected to come to Sydney for the Siegfried concert on Saturday, 26 June. Tentative plans are being made to run a short seminar on the Saturday morning, before the concert, at the Goethe Institut. Further information will be sent to you in

April, together with the invitation to the Annual Lunch which will be held in May, once details are finalised.

On a sadder note we mourned the death of Alastair Mackerras, a member of the Society, who made such an outstanding contribution to the life of this city not only as headmaster of Sydney Grammar School but in many other areas.

Peter Haggblom from Finland has sent me details of a Ring to be performed in Helsinki in June 2000 and arrangements are being made to reserve a number of tickets. Details of the casts will be included in the next newsletter but if any one is interested in going please contact me so I can keep you informed. It is expected that the Finnish Wagner Society will arrange a range of activities to coincide with the performances.

The year has started with a burst of enthusiasm and I hope we can build on this and make 1999 another outstanding year.