fri 15/11/2019

The Wagner Interviews | reviews, news & interviews

The Wagner Interviews

The Wagner Interviews

Introducing a series of video conversations with some of the world's great Wagnerians

From Alexander Polzin's stage design for the Salzburg Festival production of Parsifal performed in Beijing

The last act of the Wagner bicentenary is upon us as a new production of Parsifal is unveiled at the Royal Opera House. There has been plenty to savour and ponder. The BBC Proms staged concert performances of seven of the operas. Opera North got on with their Ring cycle and Longborough Opera completed theirs. There was a Lohengrin from Welsh National Opera, an acclaimed Flying Dutchman from Zurich Opera at Festival Hall, while various orchestras dipped into various parts of the repertoire and Simon Callow wrote and performed Inside Wagner’s Head.

But this is just in the UK. Elsewhere Wagner has been top of the bill, even in places where little is known of the man or his music. This autumn Parsifal was performed in China for the first time, in a touring production from the Salzburg Festival. It is a significant event in the life of an opera conceived as a Bühnenweihfestspiel - or stage consecration - which the composer wished to see performed only in Bayreuth. To mark the occasion, a series of interviews with distinguished and knowledgeable Wagnerians was commissioned by the KT Wong Foundation, which aims to promote links between China and the rest of the world via the arts and education.

The conversations range widely across the Wagnerian landscape

In collaboration with the Beijing Music Festival, the principal goal of The Wagner Interviews is to demystify Parsifal and its composer for a new audience. Several questions were put to all of the interviewees – how they first discovered Wagner, which opera they’d take to a desert island, and which question they’d like to put to Wagner given the opportunity. But the conversations also range widely across the Wagnerian landscape as singers and scholars, composers and conductors, designers and directors each come at Wagner from their own unique angle. The interviews in Beijing were conducted by Rudolph Tang, and in London and Paris by myself.

The full line-up includes:

A word on The Wagner Interviews' two designers. Halfway through the filming schedule the director Patrice Chéreau died. We had asked for an interview, but he was too unwell to take part – and indeed three of our interviewees were at his funeral in Paris at which Waltraud Meier also sang. Instead, we managed to persuade his longterm collaborabor, the designer Richard Peduzzi, to recall their revolutionary triumph in the second half of the 1970s when their Ring shook Bayreuth to its foundations. And bringing the roster into the very present, Alexander Polzin is the designer of the Salzburg Parsifal seen in the Beijing Music Festival and many of our edited clips (main image).

Before clicking through to the KT Wong Foundation channel on YouTube, watch this trailer for a taste.

 

The principal goal of The Wagner Interviews is to demystify Parsifal and its composer for a new audience

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.