President's Report September 2011

Letter from the President

Welcome to the third newsletter for 2011.

Much has been happening since the last newsletter. The first and most significant development is that the Society has a new patron. Simone Young has graciously agreed to accept this position. Ms. Young, as most of you will know, is now General Manager and Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera. Many of us were in Hamburg earlier this year when Ms Young conducted an exciting Ring Cycle. Some people had reservations about the production, but I think we all agreed that it was an orchestral triumph. Ms. Young, who still has close family ties in New South Wales, has established a momentous international reputation as a Wagnerian conductor. Details of her illustrious career are set out elsewhere in this newsletter. We are extremely fortunate that she has agreed to become our patron.

Also since the last newsletter was the filming of the Metropolitan Opera Die Walkure at the Dendy, Orpheum and Verona cinemas. The attendances on each occasion were very high. It is not for me to review the opera here. I had already seen it in the flesh in New York, and had generally loved it. My principal reservation related to the hazardous nature of the sets. In the performance I saw, Deborah Voigt, as Brunnhilde, slipped and fell over when she made her first entrance. She recovered herself quickly, but she and other performers were visibly apprehensive while they were walking on the set - an apprehension which was shared by many members of the audience. To return to the Sydney screenings, those of you who attended one of them will probably have seen a member of your Committee at the entrance, handing out Society flyers. We, the Committee, decided that these screenings provided a unique opportunity to extend our membership by informing potential Wagner enthusiasts about the existence and the activities of the Society. A flyer was printed at very short notice, and was handed out to patrons at each of the screenings. As you will see from elsewhere in this newsletter, there has been a significant recent increase in our membership, and I think that much of this is attributable to this initiative. You will see us again at the screenings of Siegfried later this year!

We are in the process of organising some very exciting events for forthcoming Society functions. The two which bear special mention relate to our functions on 16 October this year, and 25 March 2012. For the 16 October function, Lyndon Terracini, the Artistic Director of Opera Australia, has agreed to come and talk about the 2013 Melbourne Ring Cycle, and the numerous initiatives which Opera Australia will be mounting in association with the Ring. I anticipate that our discussions with Lyndon will be both wide-ranging and focused (if that is not a contradiction in terms). He has said that he will be happy to take questions from the floor. So I encourage all of you to come and participate in this significant event.

On 25 March next year, we are extremely fortunate to have secured the attendance of two people who are central to the Melbourne Ring Cycle: Maureen Wheeler and Richard Mills. Richard Mills, as you will know, is to be the conductor. He conducted the Australian Youth Orchestra in a spell-binding concert performance of Tristan and Isolde in Brisbane a few years ago, which thoroughly established his credentials as a Wagnerian conductor. Maureen Wheeler's story is an extraordinary one. I am not going to spoil it by telling it here. But as you will hear next March, the fact that we are to have a Ring Cycle in Melbourne at all is essentially because of this one person's initiative, drive and generosity.

I am writing this letter from an extremely hot Florence. Today it is a relatively mild 33 degrees. A few days ago it was 41. And this is on a latitude which would lie a little to the north of Hobart, if it were transposed it to the south. I arrived two days ago, after a week in Bayreuth. This is a non-Ring year, which means that they performed five of the six mature operas: Tannhauser, Lohengrin, Tristan, Mastersinger and Parsifal. As always, it was an extraordinary experience to be there. The next Society function, on 18 September, features a report-back by members who were there this year, so I will leave it to them to describe the individual performances. Suffice it for me to say that the days of traditional productions at Bayreuth seem to be well behind us, at least for the moment; but that the musical standards remain extremely high.

Wagner 2013 Bicentenary Donation Appeal

2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner and will be a significant international musical occasion. The Wagner Society hopes to pledge major support for the 2013 Wagner Bicentenary Celebrations. To achieve this, we have set up a 'Wagner 2013 Fund' and we need your support to help make this possible.

Making a donation to the 'Wagner 2013 Fund' will ensure the Society's contributions to the celebrations will be world class. We are considering a number of possible exciting projects. One of them involves supporting a major international artist participating in Opera Australia's Ring performances in November and December 2013. We will also continue to promote the life and works of Richard Wagner through performances and events in Sydney.

Donations are fully tax-deductible and can be made by cheque or money order by direct debit

Thank you for considering this request for support - any donation to the Wagner Society's 'Wagner 2013 Fund' will make a difference.

The Hon Jane Mathews AO
Wagner Society in New South Wales