WSNSW e-news 29





Dear friends of the Wagner Society in NSW 






Wishing our members and friends a very happy Easter. 


Reports on the following recent Wagner Society events will appear in the next Quarterly.

— 13 March 2022: Masterclass with Christina Henson Hayes (Warwick Fyfe’s vocal coach) & Bradley Gilchrist (piano), featuring Ellen McNeil (Jane Mathews AO / PO scholarship holder)Nathan Bryon & Damien Noyce (WSNSW funded)Paul McLeod (WSNSW member) and Michael James, Anita de Lisen & Ashlee Woodgate (students of Christina Henson Hayes)

Forty-seven members, friends and artists attended the Masterclass, with guests of honour Warwick Fyfe and Ruth Frances. View the Program and Photos



— 27 March 2022: Ralph Myers’ ‘Ruminations on Tristan und Isolde at Aix-en-Provence’

Thirty-one members and friends attended Ralph’s talk. View the Program and Photos


— 10 April 2022: Peter Bassett on ‘Hurry away then, towards the East’

Thirty-four members and friends attended Peter’s talk. View the Program and Photos




This reminder only applies now to a small number of members.


Payments can be made:

– Pay by e-invoice
Just reply to this email and an invoice will be forwarded so you can pay electronically by debit or credit card and receive a receipt.

– Pay by EFT
Use your bank’s internet banking facilities to send your payment – with your name – electronically to Westpac Banking Corporation, Paddington NSW Branch:

Account Name: The Wagner Society / BSB: 032040 / Account Number: 911323

– Pay by Cheque
Mail a cheque or money order for your annual membership fee to:

The Wagner Society
GPO Box 4574
Sydney NSW 2001

– Pay at Society events
By cash or card



We have 116 subscribers for our YouTube channel and the link is now Thank you to all those involved in achieving this outcome. 


The most popular video on our channel is the Siegmund & Sieglinde duet from Die Walküre at with 1.2K views. It was filmed on 13 September 2017 by Heldentenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Samantha Crawford at the ‘Stuart Skelton sings Wagner’ gala concert held at St Paul’s Church Knightsbridge to celebrate the Tait Memorial Trust’s 25th Anniversary. Samantha received The NSW Wagner Society Award for Emerging Wagner Singers and funding from the Society for coaching in London with iconic Wagnerian soprano, Dame Anne Evans. She performed a recital for the Society on 19 October 2017.

In addition we now have 107 followers on our Instagram account at .


— 5.00PM, Friday 15 April 2022 [CET ]: The Hungarian State Opera’s Parsifal

For Good Friday, the premiere of the new Parsifal live from Budapest staged by Almási-Tóth’s and conducted by Balázs Kocsár at the newly restored Hungarian State Opera, the magnificent Ybl Palace. Sung in German. Subtitles will be available in English during the livestream.

Available until 15.10.2022 at 12h00 [CET]

Details and stream at

— 5.00pm, Monday 18 April 2022 [EDT]: WS New York’s Interview with heldentenor Stefan Vinke

Stefan Vinke sang Siegmund in the Melbourne Ring Cycles of 2013 and 2106, and spoke to Wagner Society in NSW members at our Christmas party in November 2018. Since his Walther von Stolzing debut in Leipzig in 2010, he belongs to the limited group of tenors who constantly sing the complete dramatic repertoire of Richard Wagner.

Details at

Livestream and/or link arrangements to be announced.

— 7.00pm, 24 April 2022 [CET ]: T
he Nationaltheater Mannheim’s Der fliegende Holländer

Live on the opening night, Nationaltheater Mannheim share their new production of Wagner’s majestic tale of a captain cursed to sail the seas forever.

Sung in German. Subtitles will be available in English during the livestream.

Available until 24.10.2022 at 12h00 [CET]

Details and stream at

— 3.00pm, Sunday 15 May 2022 [EDT]: 
WS New York’s event about Hans Neuenfels (1914-2022), director of the Bayreuth 2010-1015 (“rats”) Lohengrin

Commentary by colleagues, with illustrations and excerpts from his memoirs. Moderator: Scott Carlton (Bayreuth chorus for Neuenfels’ Lohengrin). 

Pricing and details to be announced shortly. Check

— 4.00pm, Sunday 19 June 2022 [EDT]: WS New York’s Recital by Karolina Pilou with pianist Kamal Khan

Ms Pilou is a Met Opera mezzo-soprano and WSNY grantee. Live at National Opera Center and livestream. 

Details to be posted shortly. Check



On Friday 18 March, the basement of the Richard Wagner museum in Bayreuth (Germany) was partially flooded due to the overflow of a drain pipe. According to an initial estimate, a third of the historical books and manuscripts archived by the museum were damaged.

Nearly 4,000 structures damaged in the flood 

More than 50 firefighters were requisitioned in the afternoon to put an end to a flood at the Richard Wagner Museum, a cultural center in Bayreuth. At the origin of this incident, a valve for draining water from the garden which did not close and therefore caused this overflow in the basement of the Wahnfried House which houses the museum dedicated to the archives and to the work of the great German composer.

If the overflow did not exceed 15 cm, it unfortunately damaged a large quantity of the 12,000 historical books and manuscripts which were stored there in cardboard boxes. According to a first estimate, nearly 4,000 books would have been affected and therefore had to be transported by the Bayreuth fire brigade to the Siegfried Wagner House, an annex which Richard Wagner’s son had made his home in 1894.

The affected documents are going to be ‘freeze-dried ‘ in Leipzig

According to the director of the museum, the origin of the accident is due to a “chain of unfortunate circumstances”. The books were in cardboard boxes in a room in the basement with a drain running through them. It seems that one of these boxes overturned and blocked the overflow of this pipe which therefore overflowed. Sven Friedrich indicates that the water being drinkable, the damage will be limited. “Books are damaged but not destroyed” he clarified. Despite everything, the affected documents will have to be transferred to Leipzig in a specialized unit where they will be “freeze-dried (vacuum-dried) in order to regain their original appearance before being repatriated to the Muse Wagner.

Philippe Gault



— 1866: 53rd birthday (Villa Tribschen, Lucerne, Switzerland)

When Wagner was obliged to leave Munich in late 1865, he moved to a spacious villa in Tribschen in Lucerne, Switzerland which was provided by Ludwig II, King of Bavaria from 1864, and where he would live for six years. His estranged first wife Minna died that year. In May Cosima von Bülow came to Tribschen with her daughters, but did not stay with Wagner permanently until 1868. Here the Wagners developed a family tradition of marvellous birthday parties.

On 22 May 1866 King Ludwig paid a visit to Tribschen with Prince Paul of Thurn und Taxis to surprise the ‘Dear One’ on his fifty-third birthday. They stayed there incognito until 24 May.

Some Munich citizens sent Wagner a silver wreath, feeling remorse that they had contributed to driving Wagner out of Munich earlier.

— 1867: 54th birthday (Starnberg, Bavaria)

The King wanted Wagner to spend his birthday with him at Starnberg and Wagner arrived on the morning of 22 May. In the evening various events were put on, including a concert in the Westendhalle of excerpts from Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, and Das Liebesmahl der Apostel. Public interest was so great that hundreds had to stand in tight-packed rows.

— 1869: 56th birthday (Villa Tribschen, Lucerne, Switzerland)

Cosima and her daughters came to live with Wagner permanently in November 1868, and they married in 1870 following her divorce. 

The night before Wagner’s fifty-sixth birthday, Cosima set up his bust surrounded by flowers.

At 6am Hans Richter blew Siegfried’s horn call loudly outside Wagner’s bedroom. The children stuck candles on his bathtub and surrounded it with wreaths and bunches of flowers. When Wagner came down to breakfast, he found his room turned into a flower garden. The four children, who were lined up as heralds of peace from Rienzi, approached him with palm branches in their hands, and the two eldest recited old Greek poems in celebration of Spring. Presents were laid out, including those from King Ludwig.

Cosima had arranged for Richter and the Maurin-Chevillard String quartet from Paris to come and play at 10.30am. Wagner was very surprised and delighted. In the course of the day they played Beethoven’s late string quartets B-flat Major (Grosse Fuge), A Minor and C-sharp Minor (op. 133, 132 and 131). Telegrams came from the King and from Hungary.

— 1870: 57th birthday (Villa Tribschen, Lucerne, Switzerland)

During the night before Wagner’s fifty-seventh birthday, Cosima decorated the stairs and the vestibule.

At 8am she and the children who were dressed alike in white, with wreaths of roses in their hair, were stationed at different places to represent living flowers: Isolde and Eva at the front door; Blandine farther down in the bower, beneath a laurel; Cosima with Siegfried on her lap at the bottom of the steps, beside the bust loaded down with flowers; and Daniela at the end of the tableau. At 8.30am Huldigungsmarsch (which Wagner had composed to celebrate the birthday of King Ludwig on 25 August 1864) was played by 45 soldiers – from the barracks in Lucerne – grouped under the fir tree, instead of the one horn played by Richter. Deeply moved, Wagner emerged sobbing from the house and thanked the conductor. Next Daniela went to her birdcage which had been given to her on her birthday in October and, after reciting a poem written by Cosima for the occasion, set her pets free. Afterwards the children recited poems to him, they all breakfasted in gay spirits and then went off to rest.  

Wagner also received many letters and telegrams including those from the King, Richter and Josef Standhartner, a poem from Hans Herrig (The Three Norns), a letter from Friedrich Nietzsche which closed by stating that his whole life was dedicated to his ‘esteemed Master’ and a telegram from Franz Liszt (‘Forever with you, on bright as on gloomy days’).

— 1871: 58th birthday (Villa Tribschen, Lucerne, Switzerland)

As part of the celebrations for Wagner’s fifty-eighth birthday, Cosima put on the costume of Sieglinde, Daniela was dressed as Senta, Blandine as Elisabeth, Eva and Isolde as their namesakes, while, as Sieglinde, she carried the boy Siegfried in her arms. Wagner was deeply moved. In the afternoon Nietzsche came and discussed with him the founding of a periodical, which was to be called the Reformationszeitschrift and was to appear in two years’ time. The King, too, sent a warm and cordial telegram.

— 1872: 59th birthday (Hotel Fantaisie, Donndorf, Bayreuth)

At 11 o’clock in the morning in pouring rain, on his fifty-nineth birthday, Wagner laid the foundation-stone of the Festspielhaus, a new theatre atop a large plot of land outside Bayreuth – the ‘Green Hill’ – which had been donated by the town council. King Ludwig sent a good-will message that was enclosed in the foundation stone. Then the band played his Huldigungsmarsch while Wagner struck the stone three times with a hammer and said, ‘Bless this stone! May it stand long and hold firmly.’ Because of the rain, the assembly returned to the Margraves Opera House to complete the ceremony. Musicians and singers, the Wagner family, the composer, the burgomaster and others were grouped on the stage. The burgomaster delivered an address of welcome, and then Wagner read a fervent speech. At the close of it he raised his hands and the chorus burst into the chorale from the last scene of Die Meistersinger.

At 5.00pm, Wagner conducted a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the Opera House, together with his own Kaisermarsch. He had assembled an orchestra of over one hundred musicians from all over Germany and a chorus of three hundred, and special staging was erected.

Following the concert, some three hundred guests of honour were invited to a celebratory banquet.

— 1873: 60th birthday (an apartment at Dammallee 7, Bayreuth)

In the early morning Wagner was awoken with the chorus ‘Wach auf, es nahet gen den Tag’ (Awake, the day is dawning now). Daniela carried in the Laurana Gallery etchings of Raphael, drawings which Wagner had once seen and admired at the home of the painter Hubner; Blandine presented l’Histoire du Bouddhisme by Burnouf; and the two little girls (Isolde and Eva) gave him Le Roman de Douze Pairs from Wagner’s former library.  Cosima gave Wagner Alexandre Langlois’ translation of the Rig-Veda and Wagner treated himself to translations of a number of other oriental classics.

The most important celebrations, arranged by Cosima, took place in the Margraves Opera House. The evening included Wagner’s Concert Overture No. 2 in C major of 1831, his Albumblatt and his arrangement for violin and orchestra of Traüme from the Wesendonck LiederThe comedy The Laughter of the Innocents, which had been written by his stepfather Ludwig Geyer, was performed by the company temporarily in residence. Wagner was greatly touched by it. And Peter Cornelius was commissioned to write a play which he called An Artist’s Dedication in which the painter Genelli introduced the youthful Wagner to the Dramatic Muse. The play was set to the incidental music Wagner had composed in 1835 – Neujahrs-Kantate, for chorus & orchestra, WWV 36 – for Beim Antritt des neuen Jahr, an allegorical festival play in one act which had been written by Willhelm Schmale. 




Wagner’s children and stepchildren c1873:
L-R, top row: Isolde von Bülow (b. 1865 – Wagner’s daughter, while Cosima was still married to Bülow)
and Blandine von Bülow (b. 1863 – Wagner’s stepdaughter)
L-R, front row: Eva von Bülow (b. 1867 – Wagner’s daughter, while Cosima was still married to Bülow),
Siegfried Wagner (b. 1869
– son of Wagner and his future wife Cosima)
and Daniela von Bülow (b. 1860 – Wagner’s stepdaughter)



To be concluded in May.



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




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