Wagner Inside Out

« previous episode | next episode »

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fabio Luisi in a rehearsal with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on April 27, 2010. Fabio Luisi in a rehearsal on April 27, 2010. (Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera)

What’s the best way to listen to Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle? What’s it like to conduct at Wagner’s home court, Bayreuth? Can singing Wagner be harmful? Is Wagner the perfect Christmas gift? Today, Fabio Luisi, the principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and general music director of the Zurich Opera, joins Marilyn Horne to share some inside advice on how to approach the Ring.

Plus, we hear more from last week's guest, Covent Garden music director Antonio Pappano, talks about how he grew up working at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany.

And  James Jorden, editor of Parterre.com, shares a Ring-related Christmas story.

Do you have a question for our opera swami Fred Plotkin? Call (347) 878-1059 to leave your voicemail question.

Comments [6]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Bloggers you have every right to "stick to your guns." The two incredible mammoth size talents in opera are VERDI and WAGNER. They have been given short shift on Radioland including WKCR which has done better than one would need to expect given its potential rival. The average person might be mortified learning the names of many of their icons of art and politics and science and teaching that had major flaws in their psychological persona. The product of genius is what we should ourselves accommodate in adjusting our scheduling of time and our choices of seeing, reading or hearing. The 'taste test" should not require a Curriculum Vitae, a passport or a declaration from "on high," but rather our own internal gratification in the presence of masterworks.

May. 24 2013 09:25 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

I misspoke, I meant to cite for the happy endings productions of SHAKESPEARE plays the DRUARY LANE THEATER, not the Sadler Wells Theater, which was one of the theaters that presented exclusively the oeuvre of GILBERT AND SULLIVAN. In my earliest days as a professional singer I sang Nanki Poo [MIKADO] and Frederic [Pirates of Penzance] with the touring S.M. Chartock Company. People then remarked that my Nanki Poo sounded more like Siegfried and my Frederic like Tristan.

May. 14 2013 03:49 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

It is significant that an opera STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME by composer GERALD COHEN with librettist DEBORAH BREVOORT dealing with the Holocaust should be composed and staged in this era when some misguided director puts on a staged version of Tannhauser with gas chambers and shaving of heads to precede the slaughter of those few on stage representing the 6 millions who actually met their fate in that most wretched way and actually shooting to kill others, all staged implicitly on front stage. Concerning updating of literary masterpieces, let us be reminded that Britain's SADLER WELLS theater, just a few blocks away from the ROYAL OPERA HOUSE OF COVENT GARDEN gave versions of SHAKESPEARE's plays wherein no one died at the end to make their audiences happy with the denouement. Let's conjecture that we are more sophisticated nowadays. HATE is the latest prominent ingredient in theatrical productions on stage and in film and in political campaigns and muck-raking publications and Tv and radio programming. HATE and VIOLENCE appeal to those seeking excitement from sensationalism and catastrophic explosive forms in nature as tsunamis. volcanic action, floods, snowstorms, dust storms and the like and bloody battles and car wrecks and contact sports such as wrestling which usually APPEARS, but ISN'T for real, yet satisfies the venal mindsets. Too many stage directors seeking self aggrandizement by doing the outrageous populate even our most respected opera houses and live theater establishments Although Wagner was an extreme radical antisemite, TANNHAUSER nowhere expresses anything but a Roman Catholic concern for redemption which the Pope refused TANNHAUSER, but his virtuous lover Elizabeth by her sacrifice in her own death achieved for him. The composer Wagner had a Protestant mother, Johanna Wagner and a Jewish father, LUDWIG GEYER, whom the child WAGNER adored. Nonetheless, his competitiveness and professional protocol approach ruled against his own reason and intellect and produced a contemptible blind anti-semitic scorn for those who actually represented half of his own b iological chemistry, a major blemish that thwarted a true view of others. The Germany of today views its ancestral NAZI predecessors as the villains they were.

May. 14 2013 01:40 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

My singing of Wagner's lullaby "Schlafe mein Kind" at my three hour long "Wagner: THE EPIC AND THE LYRIC" solo concert at the isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall was on Thursday May 28th, 1998 at 8 PM.

May. 12 2013 03:23 PM
Joe from New York

Fred, you say "King Charles V of France" - you mean Spain. Or the Holy Roman Empire.

Apr. 20 2013 11:13 PM
Peter Feldman from New York City

Regarding stand-by singers you are wrong. I saw Franco Corelli replacing Placido Domingo in Ernani and Christa Ludwig singing in Fidelio because Birgit Nilsson could not sing in Elektra. Nilsson had a clause in her contract where if she could not sing the opera had to be replaced because she considered with justified reason that the public were not going to see the opera but were going to see her.
That was in times of Rudolf Bing when indisposed singers were replaced with other excellent singers rehearsed or not at the Metropolitan Opera. I prefer to see a singer of category rather that a "rehearsed" mediocre singer that is what we get nowadays. A great singer might not move exactly as the production designs but will sing "gloriously".

Apr. 20 2013 10:59 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.