WSNSW e-news 18





Thirty-three people registered for last evening’s talk by Christopher Cook on ‘

Amfortas! Die Wunde … Two Wounded Disciples’.

Responses emailed by viewers after the talk:

– Thank you so much for arranging this very interesting lecture!  Food for thought and further research and thinking. 

– Thanks so much to you and the committee for arranging the talk last night. It was packed with ideas and new thoughts about Parsifal, which is my favourite of Wagner’s operas and gave me so much to think about and follow up. Again thanks for an enjoyable hour.

Christopher has kindly provided the talk transcript as well as images which he did not end up showing. Just click on these links.

The talk has also been recorded and members will be advised when it is available on our YouTube channel.






We have received a letter from the Society of the Friends of Bayreuth regarding the Bayreuth Festival 2022. The full letter can be accessed at Gesellscham der Freunde von Bayreuth.

Please note that the tickets the Society receives from the Verband are usually for the third cycle (the foreigners cycle). 

We will resurrect the 2020 list of members who had purchased tickets to the 2020 Festival and ask whether they are prepared to go in 2022. Currently we have no idea whether we will get tickets through the Verband, or how many. We are also awaiting the form from the Friends to arrive via email in March. Apparently the capacity in the theatre will be 75%. 






— WSNSW celebration of Wagner’s birthday continued


Between 1982 and 1993 annual dinners to celebrate Wagner’s birthday were held in the Sebel Town House, the Sheraton-Wentworth Hotel, the Concordia Club, the Southern Cross Hotel, Menzies Hotel and the Ritz Carlton. Guests of honour included: Raymond Myers (baritone), Rita Hunter (operatic soprano), Ronald Dowd (tenor), Sandra Hahn (dramatic soprano) Reinhard Heinrich (costume designer), John Wegner (Heldenbaritone), Moffatt Oxenbould (Artistic Director, Australian Opera), Bernadette Cullen (dramatic mezzo-soprano), Robert Allmann (operatic bass-baritone) and John Pringle (operatic baritone).

Do members have any other photos and memories of early WSNSW celebrations of Wagner’s birthday? If so, contributions with details can be emailed to  and will be gratefully received.

 At the Society’s Annual Dinner held on 24 May 1985, Werner Baer MBE 

accompanied Guest of Honour Rita Hunter on the piano, and performed a transcription of
‘Happy birthday for Richard’. Rita was made an Honorary Life Member at the dinner:

Tenor Ronald Dowd was the guest of honour at the Society’s Annual Dinner held on 23 May 1986
at the Southern Cross Hotel. View the 
menu & signatures:


At an Annual Dinner in the 1980s: L-R Josephine ?, Dr Leonard Hansen [President],
Mary Watts [member], Michel Arnould [member] and Leona Geeves [87]:


— 22 May: Wagner’s birthday continued

We are tracking Wagner’s birthdays in our e-news leading up to our celebration on 29 May 2022.




1813: Wagner’s birth

The following photo of the poster on display at the Leipzig Wagner Society office was taken with the permission of the Society’s president (at that time), and is from the Wagner Society of Santa Fe facebook page, thanks to Yoko Arthur).

(The stork is saying: How do I get rid of the nuisance? Hurry straight to the next house.) 


1861: 48th birthday (Zurich)

Wagner wrote: ‘As my birthday fell just at the time of this return journey, I resolved to celebrate it at Zurich. … Next morning at early dawn I returned to Zurich. The wonderfully clear air decided me to try the long and circuitous path through the familiar haunts of the Sihlthal to Wesendonck’s estate. Here I arrived quite unannounced; and when I inquired what the habits of the household were, I learned that about this time Wesendonck usually came down to his dining-room to breakfast alone. There I accordingly seated myself in a corner, where I awaited the tall, good-tempered man, who, on entering quietly for his morning coffee, broke out into joyous astonishment on beholding me. The day passed most sociably; Sulzer, Semper, Herwegh, and Gottfried Keller were all sent for, and I thoroughly enjoyed the satisfaction of a well-contrived surprise, under such strange circumstances, as my recent fate had only just been forming the daily topic of animated discussion among these friends.’

1862: 49th birthday (apartment in a villa in
 Biebrich, near Mainz)

In February 1862, when Wagner was living in an apartment in a villa in Biebrich, Minna made a surprise visit. Wagner referred to this period as “10 days of hell”., and they were never to live together again.

On 22 May Wagner wrote to Mathilde Wesendonck that it was his birthday and someone had brought him flowers. ‘And there I sat alone. Suddenly I had an idea for an orchestral introduction to the third act (of Die Meistersinger).’

He was not left alone for the whole of his birthday. ‘My other acquaintances who lived near my place of refuge in Biebrich were kind and friendly when, on the evening of my birthday …, I entertained this little company in my flat. Mathilde Maier with her sister Frederike and her lady friend were very clever in utilising my small stock of crockery, and in a certain sense she did the honours as mistress of the house’. (Wagner flirted with Mathilde though also having an affair with her sister.)


To be continued


With warm regards from the President and Committee of Wagner Society in NSW.