Wagner Week: A Dozen Definitive Wagner Interpreters

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Definitive Dozen Wagner Interpreters The Definitive Dozen Wagner Interpreters

To close the week of all-things Wagner, WQXR brings you the most definitive Wagner interpreters. From 8 am to 7 pm, we offer 12 Wagnerian conductors and performers from various recordings. From conductor Arturo Toscanini to soprano Kirsten Flagstad, here are some of the most important Wagner interpreters of the recordings era.

Our Definitive Dozen Wagner Interpreters, are arranged alphabetically, not by air times. Please consult our playlists for specific details on recordings. We will be updating this list later with fuller information on the performers.

Pierre Boulez, conductor

Kirsten Flagstad, soprano

Hans Hotter, bass-baritone

Herbert von Karajan, conductor

James Levine, conductor

Max Lorenz, tenor

Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano

Birgit Nilsson, soprano

Sir Georg Solti, conductor

George Szell, conductor

Arturo Toscanini, conductor

Jon Vickers, tenor

Who are your favorite Wagner interpreters? Leave your picks below and we'll be reading some of them on air today.

Today's Operavore Highlights

Our fourth and final Ring Cycle presentation, with all recent recordings!

8 am Das Rheingold (Barenboim/Staatskapelle Dresden)

10:30 pm Die Walkure (Gergiev/Mariinsky Theatre)

2:30 pm Siegfried (Luisi/Metropolitan Opera)

6:00 pm Gotterdamerung (Janowski/Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra)

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Comments [10]

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

The troubles that tear asunder the prospect of REAL "echt" WAGNERIAN PERFORMANCES are primarily based on the total lack of singers with squillo, ping, ringing "juicy', not dry secco , delivery, WAGNERIAN BARKING rather than legato full-throated singing, strained, forced and flat singing, unsupported, undersized and underpowered singing, WITHOUT impressive carrying power and with throaty or nasal ugly voice production. Today's news deals with deficits and declining support for the arts. Tandem to this predicament for the talented is the perception that the current situation will continue for a long time to come. Speaking specifically how this precludes the motivation for young operatic singers who must early on choosing their life's work, many have turned to Broadway or the business world. Nowadays Broadway musicals are out for show-stopping sensationalism with laser distractions, monster sets, acrobatic feats and space age technical projections and featuring dancing over singing. So, for the real thing opera singer, Broadway musicals, outside of Phantom of the Opera and an occasional Les Miserables there is little prospect of a sustainable career . The Wagner oeuvre has suffered the most. Husky physiques, witness the iconic John McCormack, do not offer similar size singing voices in power or stamina. Heroic voices like Melchior, Tamagno, Ruffo and the mature Caruso are nowhere on today's world class stages. Instead we suffer to hear miniscule, non-charismatic, non-distinctively memor able singing voices essaying roles far beyond their underpowered, thin not orotund, singing potentialities. I am a Wagnerian heldentenor, an opera composer [SHAKESPEARE and THE POLITICAL SHAKESPEARE] and director of The Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, where all the Wagner and all ythe Shakespeare roles arte taught as well as vocal technque for singing and declamation. www.WagnerOpera.com

Aug. 26 2013 05:17 PM
Floria from NYC

Thank you, WQXR, for introducing me to the Ring Cycle of 1953. I thought nothing could compete with the Solti version, but this is right up there with it!

Jul. 29 2013 10:58 AM
John Beasleyh

Having an all Wagner week felt incredibly luxurious. However, due to lack of a posted schedule I ended up with innumerable Rings, no Meistersingers, one each of Tannhauser, Tristan and Dutchman. No Rienzi. Also, one of the Siegfrieds was played out of order. I think it's a bit of a sloppy job. Sorry.

Jul. 29 2013 10:40 AM

I heard the Max Lorenz "Prayer" from Rienzi and was less than impressed. I wish WXQR had played a better Lorenz recording, as a Definitive Dozen example.

Jul. 29 2013 01:04 AM
Robert Poda from New York

Thank you for Wagner week. I have listened to the Operavore Stream as much as humanly possible all week and it was a wonderful experience. The different interpretations of the four Ring Cycles was interesting to hear and the other operas, including the ones not performed regularly, such as Die Feen and Rienzi. I own several of the recordings played, but it was nice, nevertheless, to hear them broadcast, since I have not played them for a while.

Thanks again!

Jul. 28 2013 10:17 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

FRANZ LISZT who had been a friend of Wagner for many years and had transcribed many of Wagner's choicest selections maintaining their essence and allowing for virtuoso display with elan, also prepared LOHENGRIN's world premiere when Wagner was for political reasons unable to participate. COSIMA, Liszt's daughter became Wagner's second wife and was intimately involved in all matters that touched on Wagner's aspirations and enterprises. Just as BACH's music is performed by all sorts of instrumental ensembles , even the MOOG, so Wagner's music may be thoroughly enjoyed in piano arrangements, but their original versions with singers are the definitive versions. The incandescent beauty and intoxicating spirituality are so transformational in Wagner's oeuvre that any religious belief may be accommodated and synthesized to replicate the sense of selfless empathy for the welfare of others that the sacrificed UNICO represents to us all. That may explain why so many famous JEWISH singers GEORGE LONDON, RICHARD TAUBER, HERMANN JADLOWKER, MELANIE KURT, FRIEDRICH SCHORR, ALEXANDER KIPNIS, EMANUEL LIST, JONAS KAUFMANN, OTTILIE METZGER, LILLI LEHMANN, HERMANN WEIL, DESZO ERNSTER, HERTA GLAZ, MARGARETE MATZENAUER, SOPHIE BRASLAU, WALTER OLITZKY, GERHARD PECHNER, ESTELLE LIEBLING, MONA PAULEE, GUNTHER TREPTOW, PAULA LENCHNER, ALMA GLUCK, ADOLF ROBINSON, IRENE JESSNER, MAX BLOCH, ERNESTINE SCHUMANN-HEINK, HERMANN SCHRAMM, SIEGFRIED JERUSALEM, PAUL KALISCH, ETC], conductors LEONARD BERNSTEIN, JAMES LEVINE, BRUNO WALTER, ALFRED HERTZ, DANIEL BARENBOIM, GEORG SOLTI, WALTER AND LEOPOLD DAMROSCH, ARTUR RODZINSKY, RICHARD FRANK GOLDMAN AND HIS FATHER THE FOUNDER OF THE GOLDMAN BAND THAT PERFORMED BRASS INSTRUMENT VERSIONS OF THE WAGNER "REP," FRITZ REINER, SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY, FABIEN SEVITSKY, ERICH LEINSDORF, and HERMANN LEVI, the conductor whom Wagner himself appointed to premiere PARSIFAL at Bayreuth, Levi's father being a rabbi, and Levi reportedly denied Wagner's request for him to turn Christian, still Wagner decided LEVI was the best one to cinduct his work, ETC. and stage directors HERBERT GRAF AND LEOPOLD SACHSE dedicated the fullest portion of their careers to performing Wagner's music dramas.

Jul. 28 2013 08:49 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

Thanks for Wagner Week (even though it was two months late)! It was great to have a week highlighting his music, along with informative commentary and some really interesting online discussions. I look forward to Verdi Week in October. Thanks again!

Jul. 28 2013 06:26 PM
Agnes from New Jersey

What a Week! Leitmotifs are merging in my mind as I am trying to sleep. I just wish the playlist was published before the daily broadcasts to plan ahead as some of us just can't be chained to the computer all day & night. Thanks a million for the wonderful week.

Jul. 28 2013 06:05 PM
Tessie G from Clifton, NJ

My favorite Wagnnerian is a conductor: James Levine. With a performance of Tannhauser as the Met he opened my ears to the greatness of a Wagner opera. I have heard quite a few performance live and on record, but Levine is the one who has consistently brought tears to my eyes.

Welcome back, Jimmy. I can't wait for your return.

Jul. 28 2013 12:22 PM
Toby from New York

Ah, Tristan in the morning. Beautiful selections so far and can't wait to hear Nilson

Jul. 28 2013 11:31 AM

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