Past Highlights

Highlights from past programmes

 

2015

Talks:

Hans Sachs and the Mastersingers – history and depiction:  Gordon Shiach explored the historic figure of Hans Sachs, and the development and activities of the Mastersingers in 16th century Nürnberg.  He looked at Wagner's characterisation of Sachs, and the portrayal of the Mastersingers in the opera, illustrated with excerpts from a classic performance.

Cutting edge or cutting teeth? Die Feen, Wagner’s first completed foray into opera: Jane Schopf (Programme Director for Opera Studies at Rose Bruford College, Kent) reviewed Wagner's first completed opera Die Feen, considering how prophetic it was of his later work and how indebted to its operatic forerunners.

Telling the Story – Costuming the Ring: John Liddell (Costume Supervisor for Scottish Opera’s Ring Cycle between 2000 and 2003, and for earlier productions) discussed the artistic process and the practical difficulties involved in interpreting character through costume, drawing on his work with directors and designers bringing their vision to reality, by creating over 200 different costumes for 180 performers, including rubber dresses, ravens’ heads, silicone wigs, spectacles that light up, a flayed bearskin and Valkyries on stilts.

In Italian or English? – The first performances of Wagner’s operas in Scotland: Iain Fraser (co-founder with his brothers Peter and Stephen of the website OperaScotland) described its origin and development and some of the discoveries they have made in relation to the early performances of Wagner’s operas in Scotland, pushing the performing history back earlier than previously assumed.

Wagner, the Father of modern conducting philosophy: Chris Gray examined Wagner's desire to place the conductor at the centre of musical performance, which started a period of development leading directly to the creation of a language and grammar for modern conductors. He looked at Wagner’s essay 'Über das Dirigieren' and considered his emergence as a master conductor.

Art as Utopia: Parsifal and the East German Left: Elaine Kelly (Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Edinburgh) charted the reception of Parsifal by East German opera directors in the second half of the twentieth century, examined the reasons behind the apathy towards the work in the post-war era, and explored the new resonances that the opera gained in later decades, a circumstance that reflects both the political stagnation of the late Cold War and the rise of Regieoper on East German stages.

 

2014

Talks:

Wagner's Brass Instruments for The Ring : Professor Arnold Myers and Dr Lisa Norman (both University of Edinburgh) described and illustrated Wagner’s special brass instruments for The Ring, with particular reference to the tenor and bass tubas but also including bass trumpet, contrabass trombone, and contrabass tuba. Several live instruments were on show.

From my Waistcoat Pocket: Jonathon Brown (writer, journalist, and broadcaster) drew on  his substantial record collection to pluck topics from his forty-year devotion to Wagner, including Wagner the greatest miniaturist, Wagner the greatest composer of quiet music, his secret penchant for dramas in two acts, line 11 of ‘Amfortas! — Die Wunde!’, and the smokescreen of his rude remarks about other composers. The title was based on a remark attributed to Wagner himself.

Tristan und Isolde and the imaginary theatre of music: Michael Downes (Director of Music at the University of St Andrews) explored the notion that perhaps more than any of Wagner's other dramas, Tristan und Isolde invites an interpretation that evades dramaturgical specifics in favour of a focus on the ‘pure essence’ of music. His talk laid particular emphasis on the French reception and interpretation of Wagner, both literary (Baudelaire, Champfleury, Mallarmé, Wyzewa) and musical (Debussy, Chausson, Fauré).

Wagner and the Dance: Ray Furness (Professor of German at St Andrews, 1984−99) reminded us that Wagner called himself ‘the best dancer in Saxony’ and elaborated the theme that ‘if we can neither prove nor disprove the validity of this statement we can at least look at the role of Terpsichore in his thinking’. He says that he first caught the Wagner fever as a teenager when he heard the Prelude to Act Three of Lohengrin: ‘there was no going back after that.’

The Leitmotiv in Wagner’s music dramas: Myra Soutar (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) explored Wagner’s use of the Leitmotiv in his music dramas by examining the content, characteristics, manipulation, and purpose of the motives in such works as The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde, and The Ring Cycle.

The music of Wagner’s Ring and the life cycle of an audience: Heath Lees (Edinburgh-born Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Auckland) showed that the music of Wagner’s Ring nurtures the growth of an audience, from their utterly simple ‘baby’ states (e.g. the opening of Das Rheingold) to the rich closing memories of aged grandparents (e.g. the panorama of themes during Brünnhilde’s final monologue in Götterdämmerung); between these extremes Wagner encourages his audience to ‘grow’ by increasing the complexity and effect of his music through ‘adolescence’ in Die Walküre and through a kind of sympathetic parenthood in Siegfried. 

Thematic transformation in Wagner: Kevin Stephens (festival director, arts administrator, consultant, lecturer, and author) demonstrated how Wagner manipulated musical themes, intending some of the transformations to be recognised and others to be disguised;  new themes were generated from old ones, creating a web of connections across a work. Looking mainly at Holländer, Tristan, and Meistersinger, he explored Wagner’s use of shape, rhythm, and devices such as inversion and reversal to transform his themes.

Study Weekend:

Parsifal: Derek Watson (Gartmore House, Stirlingshire)

 

2013

— Talks:

The Year 1813 - an audio-visual presentation: Derek Watson
The Wagner Experience and its meaning to us: Paul Dawson-Bowling
Harry Fehr, opera director, in conversation
Wagner in Practice: Keith Warner

— Study Weekend:

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Gartmore House, Stirlingshire)

— Other Events:

Flying Dutchman Discovery Day — an introduction to the opera, the legend, the roots, the legacy
An Evening with painter and designer Vladimír Kiseljov (Wagner Society of Brno)
Bicentenary Recital & Dinner: Anush Hovhannisyan (soprano), Artem Akopyan (piano)
An Evening with Dame Gwyneth Jones

*

2012

— Talks:

'The Music shines through the fog' — a personal  exploration of recordings and productions of Parsifal: Christopher McQuaid
Love, Lust and Passion — exploring aspects of love in Wagner's music: Derek Blyth
The Dangers of Listening to Wagner: Dr James Kennaway (University of Durham)
The Sorcerer of Bayreuth: Barry Millington

— Study Week:

Der Ring des Nibelungen (Carberry Tower, East Lothian)

— Other Events:

A celebration of 'Wagner and Prague'
Sir Georg Solti: a centenary celebration (Humphrey Burton)
'Opera and Drama' — a discussion of Wagner's seminal book with translator Katherine Wren
The Narrations of Gurnemanz / Wotan's Journey — a recital by Sir John Tomlinson and Lionel Friend

*

2011

— Talks:

Liszt and Lohengrin: Dr David Trippett (University of Cambridge)
Liszt and Wagner: Dr Kenneth Hamilton (University of Birmingham)
Liszt and Scotland: Derek Watson
Why does Wotan bar Siegfried's Way?: Lionel Friend
Wagner and Ireland: Anthony Linehan (Wagner Society of Ireland)
"So vestand ich selbst erst meinen Wotan", or, A God in the Twilight of the Ring: Jeremy Coleman (University of Cambridge)

— Study Weekend:

Lohengrin (Carberry Tower, East Lothian)

— Other Events:

A celebration of 'Wagner and Poland'
Recital by Helen Lawson (soprano) including Liszt and von Bülow
Christmas Party talk by Linda Esther Gray on Dame Eva Turner

*

2010

— Talks:

Wagner and Berlioz — "The Enemy Brothers — Beethoven's Bastard Offspring": David Cairns
The Art of Max Lorenz — an audio-visual tribute to the great Heldentenor: Will Scott
Beecham and Wagner: John Lucas

— Study Weekend:

Tannhäuser (Carberry Tower, East Lothian)

— Other Events:

Visit to the National Library of Scotland to view Mrs Mary Burrell's great biography of Wagner, and books by Adolf Wagner
Champagne Reception with Dame Anne Evans
An Afternoon with conductor and pianist Lionel Friend
The Quest for Reginald Goodall: a film by Humphrey Burton
Christmas Recital: Bjartmar Sigurdsson (tenor), Chris Baxter (piano)

*

2009

— Talks:

Wagner and the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848: Roderick Swanston (Imperial College, London)
Wagner and the Faeries: an introduction to Die Feen: Derek Watson
The Artistry of David Ward: Will Scott
Das Rheingold on Record: Hilary Finch
Wagner's Mendelssohn: Dr Monika Hennemann (University of Birmingham)
"My Ideal Alberich" — Frederick Robson and the Victorian Theatre: Stewart Spencer

— Study Weekend:

Der fliegende Holländer (University of Stirling)

— Other Events:

Kennst Du Das Land? A Recital by postgraduate singing students from the RSAMD

*

2008

— Talks:

Siegfried's Amnesia — an attempt at an explanation: Dr Ian Robertson
Die Walküre — a psychotherapist's perspective: Dr Robin Hobbes

An Evening with Keith Warner
A talk by sculptor Alexander Stoddart on the influence of Schopenhauer and Wagner on his work
An Evening with Prof John Deathridge (Imperial College, University of London)
 

— Study Weekend:

Tristan und Isolde (University of Stirling)

— Other Events:

A Recital by postgraduate singing students from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
Christmas Party with Donald Macleod (BBC Radio 3)

*

2007

— Talks:

Wagner and Mallarmé: Music and Poetic Language: Prof Heath Lees (University of Auckland)
Wagner and Weimar: Derek Watson
Wagner and Elgar: Ian Beresford Gleaves
Richard Wagner's Zurich: Prof Chris Walton (University of Pretoria)

— Study Weekend:

Rienzi (Carberry Tower)

*

2006

— Talks:

Wagner and Houston Stewart Chamberlain:  Dr Roger Allen (University of Oxford)
Nietzsche's Ideas of History and the Ring: Prof Simon Williams (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Richard Strauss and Wagner: Michael Kennedy
Richard Wagner and the 'Satire of Art': Scottish Wagnerism, George Bernard Shaw, and the Religon/Science Dialectic: Gulliver Ralston

— Study Weekend:

Lohengrin (Carberry Tower)

— Other Events:

Wagner and Venice: an audio-visual presentation: Derek Watson

*

2005

— Talks:

Wagner and Brass: John Wallace (Principal, Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama)
The Fateful potion in Tristan: Aphrodisiac or Placebo: Dr Ian Robertson
Richard Wagner and his Native City of Leipzig: Derek Watson
'The Voice Doctor': Prof Arnold Maran FRCS

— Study Weekend:

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg  (The College, Isle of Cumbrae)

— Recital:

Shuna Scott-Sendall (soprano), Wai Sum Chong (piano) [Debussy, Wagner, Gershwin]

— Other events:

An Evening with Sir Donald McIntyre [including a performance of the two Wotan/Erda scenes from the Ring with Phillida Banister as Erda]
Richard Wagner and the Dresden Semperoper: an audio-visual presentation
Jane Eaglen in Conversation

*

2004

— Talks:

Schopenhauer and Wagner: Dr Kenneth Hutton
Wagner, Schoenberg and the Dissolution of Tonality: Dr Ian Robertson
What Tristan means to us: Prof Roger Scruton
Wagner and the Greeks: Lewis Morgan-Klein
Mathilde Wesendonck: the Controlling Muse: Professor Chris Walton (University of Pretoria)
The Ring at Manaus: Aidan Lang

— Study Weekend:

Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot  (University of Stirling)

— Other events:

Scottish Opera: Past Present and Future: Christopher Barron, Chief Executive. Scottish Opera
Christmas Party talk 'Early Bayreuth Singers' by Sandy Matheson (McAlister Matheson Music)

— Recital:

Phillida Bannister (mezzo-soprano), Derek Watson (piano) [Schubert, Strauss, Wagner]

*

2003

— Talks:

Tonality in the Ring: Derek Watson
Structural Parallels between Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung: Graeme Arnott
Six talks by members of the Scottish Opera Ring company: Piers Maxim, Peter Sidhom, Graham Sanders, Elizabeth Byrne, Peter Savidge, Alasdair Eliot

— Other events:

Festival Receptions for International Wagner Societies during Scottish Opera's Ring cycles
Christmas Party with Pauline Tinsley
Recital to celebrate Ronald Stevenson's 75th Birthday Jonathan Scott (organ), Phillida Bannister (contralto) and Christopher Ovenden (tenor)

— Study Weekend:

Götterdämmerung (University of Stirling)

*

2002

— Talks:

Fifty Years of Bayreuth Festivals: Penelope Turing
Voicing Mathilde: Money and the Muse: Prof Chris Walton (University of Pretoria)
Hans Sachs - the problem of the final address: Dr Ian Robertson

— Study Weekend:

Siegfried (Newbattle Abbey)

— Other Events:

An Evening with Matthew Best
Christmas Party with Tim Alberry and Hildegard Bechtler

*

2001

— Talks:

Wagner, Coins and History: Nick Holmes (National Museums of Scotland)
Samuel Beckett and Wagner: John Calder
'Das ist kein Mann!' - problems with virility in Siegfried: Barry Millington

— Study Course:

Tonality in Act 1 of Die Walküre: Ian Beresford Gleaves

— Other Events:

An Evening with Raimund Herincx
A Conversation with Donald Runnicles
Christmas Party with Linda Esther Gray

*

2000

— Talks:

Conducting Wagner: Sir Richard Armstrong
The Divided Soul: Dr John Warrack
Wagner and Film: Graeme Arnott
Wagner and Philosophy: Brian Magee

— Study Courses:

Parsifal (Newbattle Abbey)
Das Rheingold (Newbattle Abbey)

*

1999

— Talks:

Wagner and Mallarmé: Dr Mary Breatnach (University of Edinbugh)
Wagner and Delius: Derek Watson
Wagner and Bruckner: Stephen Johnson
Wagner and Scriabin: Dr Rosamund Bartlett (University of Manchester)

— Study Weekend:

Die Walküre (Newbattle Abbey)

— Christmas Party:

Talk by Sir Brian McMaster CBE

*

1998

— Recital:

Linda Finnie (mezzo-soprano)

— Talks:

Wagner in Russia: Dr Rosamund Bartlett (University of Manchester)
Wolfgang Wagner's Bayreuth: Penelope Turing
Wagner and Redemption: Dr Michael Tanner (University of Cambridge)

— Study Weekend:

Das Rheingold (Newbattle Abbey)

— Other Events:

'Tristan' Congress (Theatre Royal, Glasgow)
Tony Palmer introducing his film Parsifal
Christmas Party with Gian Carlo Menotti

*

1997

— Talks:

Lohengrin: Alexander Crowe (Royal Northern College of Music)
The Staging of  Die Meistersinger: Patrick Carnegy
The Geography of the Ring: Malcolm Fox (University of Adelaide)

— Study Weekends:

Tannhäuser (College of Education, Dundee)
Lohengrin (Newbattle Abbey)

— Other Events:

An Afternoon with Mike Ashman (director of the Norwegian National Opera Ring)
Piano recital by Colin Kingsley
Christmas Party with James MacMillan

*

1996

— Study Day:

Wagner's Version of Iphigenie in Aulis

— Study Weekends:

Rienzi (Newbattle Abbey)
Der fliegende Holländer (Newbattle Abbey)

— Talks:

Images of Wagner in the Third Reich: Dr Erik Levi (University of London)
Love in Wagner: Dr Michael Tanner (University of Cambridge)
Exploring the lesser-known Wagner: Barry Millington

*

1995

— Recital:

Kenneth Hamilton (piano)

— Study Weekend:

Parsifal (University of Stirling)

— Talks:

On Singing and Interpretation: John Mitchinson
Wagner and Russia: Dr Stuart Campbell (University of Glasgow)

*

1994

— Talks:

Wagner and Pfitzner: Dr John Williamson (University of Liverpool)
The Music of Siegfried Wagner: Will Scott

— Study Weekend:

The Music of Tristan (Scottish Opera, Glasgow)

— Study Day:

Das Liebesverbot

An Afternoon with Anne Evans and Jeffrey Lawton

*

1993

— Talk:

Hans Richter Christopher Fifield

— Study Days:

Tristan und Isolde; Lohengrin

*

1992

— Recital:

Margaret Archibald (soprano)

— Study Weekend:

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Newbattle Abbey)

— Talks:

Wagner and the Italian Opera: Prof David Kimbell (University of Edinburgh)
Wotan's Spear: Malcolm Fox (University of Adelaide)

*

1991

— Recital:

Barbara Brodie (soprano)

— Study Weekend:

Götterdämmerung

*

1990

— Recitals:

Denise Mulholland (soprano), Derek Archer (baritone)
An Evening with Pauline Tinsley

— Study Weekend:

Siegfried (University of Stirling)

— Talks:

Wagner and Liszt: the Transcriptions: Dr Kenneth Hamilton (University of Birmingham)
Elgar and Wagner: Prof Ian Parrott (University of Aberystwyth)
Ludwig, a Royal Mystery: Trevor Ransley

*

1989

— Recitals:

Annabelle Cheetham (mezzo-soprano)
An Evening with Alberto Remedios

— Talks:

Puccini the Wagnerian: Rodney Milnes
The Shakespearian Wagner: Margaret Inwood

*

1988

— Talks:

Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner: reappraisals of the 'New German School': Derek Watson
Wagner and Conducting: Neil Mackay

— Study Weekend:

Die Walküre (University of St Andrews)

*

1987

— Study Weekend:

Das Rheingold (Whithorn, Galloway)

— Study Day:

Der fliegende Holländer, with director John Cox

— Recital:

Suzanne McLaren (soprano)

— Talks:

The Origins of 'The Flying Dutchman': Prof Anthony Stanforth (University of Edinburgh)
Wagner as Music: Bryan Magee
Wagner and British Music: Malcolm MacDonald

*

1986

— Liszt Centenary Recital:

Sally Scott-Jupp (soprano), Ronald Stevenson (piano)

— Talks:

Wagner's Politics and Wagner's Music: Dr Anthony Arblaster (University of Sheffield)
Wagner Literature and Wagner Research: Dr John Deathridge (University of Cambridge)

*

1985

— Talks:

The Operas of Benjamin Britten: Sir Peter Pears
Singers of Bayreuth: Norman White
Wagnerism in France: Prof Hugh MacDonald (University of Glasgow)

*

1984

— Recital:

Kathryn Harries (soprano), Michael Pollock (piano)

 

 

Chair

Dale Bilsland
22 West Chapelton Drive, Bearsden, Glasgow, G61 2DA
Email:  dale.bilsland2012@btinternet.com
Telephone:  0141 942 0935  Mobile:  0776 691 2724

Secretary

John Anderton
2 Glenlockart Road, Edinburgh, EH10 5RG
Email:  john.anderton4@btinternet.com
Telephone:  0131 447 1645

Treasurer & Membership Secretary

Peter Stuart
1C Pendreich Road, Bridge of Allan, Stirling, FK9 4PZ
Telephone:  0178 683 3804                

Newsletter Editor

Maureen McLennan
6 Merchiston Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4NR
Email:  the.mclennans@btinternet.com
Telephone:  0131 623 2920  Mobile:  0790 256 3232