WSNSW e-news 34


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


— Wednesday 4 May 2022, Zoom talk on ‘Wagner and Berlioz’ by Erica Miner at 12.30pm

Fellow member Robert Mitchell has described Erica’s talk as: ‘A deeply fascinating insight into two of the 19th Century’s most significant composers. Erica Miner is both erudite and entertaining, enlivening her talk with both visual and musical examples.’


On Monday 16 May 2022, this zoom talk will be made available online for a week for those who watched it on Wednesday and for those who missed it.


For those who missed it, the charge is $10. If you would like to view the talk online, please do the usual:

– register by replying to this email, or emailing us at , and

– 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 

– or request an e-invoice for payment by card.  

Erica’s resource sheet will be also made available.

View Photos from the zoom.



— Sunday 1 May 2022, Screening of Fritz Lang’s 1924 masterpiece Siegfried, part 1 of Die Nibelungen

View the Program and Photos. It is hoped that part 2, ‘Kriemhilds Rache’ (‘Kriemhild’s Revenge’) will be screened later in the year.




Wagner Society member Dr Marie Leech has a Festival Pass for the Wagner Festival – but which she now cannot attend.   The Festival Pass includes all thirteen operas to be performed at this festival plus events within Oper Leipzig’s special program. Currently Festival Passes are sold out.


The ticket for all 13 performances is Parkett rechts, Row 17, Seat 10.
View the full program at
If any members or friends are interested in purchasing the Festival Pass, Marie can be contacted on 0418 679 626 or via email


— 2.00PM, Saturday 7 May 2022 [AEST]: Sydney Opera Society’s ‘Around the World with a Song!’

Venue: Willoughby Uniting Church, 10 Clanwilliam Street, Willoughby 

Local soprano, Mary-Jean O’Doherty, has won many prizes at major competitions around the world – including Paris and Spain and has worked with eminent conductors, such as Maestro Richard Bonynge, and Maestro Anthony NegusMary-Jean was in Anthony Negus’s Ring at Longborough and has studied  and worked with Maestro and his wife, Carmen Jakobi.

She trained in Sydney and has sung here but has furthered her studies in Wales and elsewhere and appeared at opera houses and festivals including the niche and trendy Longborough Festival Opera, in the English Cotswolds, where she sang some roles in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and Erl in the Tyrol. Other places where she has sung include Paris, Italy, Prague, USA and Germany, and London (at the Royal Albert Hall)

She has sung in musicals and serious opera, she was in Operatunity OZ and was a young artist with Pacific Opera. She also sang in Eurovision in Vienna for Australia and Armenia in 2015!   She has recently returned from Wales to live in Sydney. On Saturday she will delight us by singing a few arias accompanied by the iconic John Martin.

The visitors’ attendance fee is $30.00 per Opera Study Talk.

The membership fee is $45.00 per annum. 

The members’ attendance fee is $28.00 per Opera Study Talk.

Enquiries to Leona Geeves or Kerry Thomas 

— 2.00PM, Saturday 28 May 2022 [AEST]: SUSO and Sydney Conservatorium Opera Gala


Venue: Verbrugghen Hall

Conducted by Luke Spicer, SUSO and Opera students at the Sydney Conservatorium present their second vibrant opera gala

Tickets: Adult $25.00 / Concession $20.00 / USU member $15.00 

The program includes The Mastersingers of Nuremberg Overture.

Details and tickets: 


— 5.00PM, Saturday 14 May 2022 [BST]: WS London’s ‘Helen Traubel: The Accidental Diva’ with Paul Thomason 

Zoom webinar

Tickets: £5.00

Details and tickets:

— 6.30PM, Sunday 15 May 2022  [AEST]: WS Scotland’s double bill

Zoom webinar

Tickets: £10.00 (non-members)

6:30pm to 8:30pm [AEST] with a short break halfway through. 

Katy Hamilton: ‘Wagnerism, “Smetana-ism”, and cosmopolitan Bohemians’

Flora Willson: ‘Vaterländisch Bel Canto or Bayreuth bark? Wagner and Italian Opera’

Details and tickets: 


— 5.00PM, Monday 23 May 2022 [BST]: WS Manchester – Mark Berry on the Castorf Ring

Zoom webinar

Non-members who wish to attend please contact the Society at





— 1874: 61st birthday (Villa Wahnfried, Bayreuth)

Wagner’s sixty-first birthday on 22 May was spent in their new home, a large house in Bayreuth, which he named Wahnfried (Peace from Delusion) and which the family had moved into in April. It had been financed by King Ludwig.

— 1875: 63rd birthday (Villa Wahnfried, Bayreuth)

For Wagner’s sixty-third birthday, the bust of Wagner in the middle of the hall at Wahnfried was surrounded by all the plants from the greenhouse. In front of the bust were Siegfried as Faith, in a blue mantle with sword and palm, on the right-hand side Isolde as Love, in a red robe with roses in her hair, holding out her hand in blessing over the bust, and on the left Eva as Hope, in green and white with her head leaning against the bust and an anchor at her side. They recited verses for Faith, Love and Hope.

Then a military band played the Huldigungsmarsch. Eva and Isolde wept with emotion.

— 1877: 64th birthday (London)

The Wagners were in London from 1 May to 4 June 1877 for six (extended to eight) concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, which were hoped to recoup losses from the first Bayreuth Festival the year before. The Royal Choral Society (comprising almost a thousand singers) celebrated Wagner’s sixty-fourth birthday with a banquet in the Albert Hall. Women however, including Cosima, had to watch from the gallery, apparently.

The following evening, Dr William Siemens (electrical engineer, businessman and Fellow of the Royal Society) arranged a small dinner for Wagner at the Athenaeum (a private members’ club in London).

— 1878: 65th birthday (Villa Wahnfried, Bayreuth)

Cosima wrote in a letter to Malwida von Meysenburg that Wagner’s birthday was ‘so full of the Wahnfried spirit (wahnfriedlich) that it will always remain in our memories. It was an old idea of mine to have the four divisions of the day, the seasons, elements, and continents doing homage to the occasion; and Wolzogen grouped these most beautifully round the awakening, lamentation, and rejoicing of Erda, with a prelude of the Norns as introduction, and my children performed the little festival play in the hall in a really incomparable fashion. All their love for their father and their consciousness of his greatness shone in their eyes and in the seriousness of their voices and gestures. It was inexpressibly touching, especially in the pantomime in which Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night moved in procession round Richard’s bust, to appropriate music from his works, saluting it and invoking blessings upon it. When you are here, I will show you the words and pictures of it. Daniela declaimed the part of Erda really surprisingly beautifully, with warmth and enthusiasm, and while these moving testimonies of love came from all sides, we silently enjoyed a happiness beyond compare, intimate and pure, which showed itself in tears.’ 

— 1879: 66th birthday (Villa Wahnfried, Bayreuth)

Cosima had arranged for a number of living pictures to be represented for Wagner’s sixty-sixth birthday. One was Siegfried standing in front of Franz von Lenbach’s portrait of Cosima – her present to Wagner; he was pretending to be painting it, dressed like Father Geyer and with his hair arranged in the same way as his. Later, extracts from Richard’s works were played in the Hofgarten. At dinner Siegfried proposed cheers for his father and Richard was delighted with the children’s song.

On the following morning, the first and second acts of Parsifal were played to the guests, and on the 24th came the third act as well.

In addition to her portrait, Cosima had ordered a pink carpet crafted from flamingo breast feathers with a border of peacock blues for her husband’s birthday.

— 1880: 67th birthday (Villa d’Angri in Posillipo, near Naples)

While the family were at Villa d’Angri in Posillipo for Wagner’s health, his sixty-seventh birthday was celebrated with a magnificent banquet, an excursion in boats on the Gulf and a performance of the Grail scene from Parsifal by Engelbert Humperdinck (who was visiting), Joseph Rubinstein and Martin Plüddemann with the four Wagner daughters Daniela, Blandine, Isolde and Eva (who had been rehearsed by Humperdinck). The audience consisted of Wagner, Cosima, Siegfried, Malwida von Meysenburg and Paul von Joukowsky.

In addition, their 15 year old daughter Isolde had wrapped 67 pots of rosebushes in paper, on which she had painted pictures in watercolour depicting an event for each year of his life, to celebrate his sixty-seventh birthday. Wagner was delighted.


Picture for 1813 – Richard Wagner is born in Leipzig on 22 May


Picture for 1842 – Tannhaüser


Picture for 1870 – from left, Siegmund and Sieglinde,
Cosima’s 33rd birthday and Beethoven Centenary

Picture for 1873 – the Festspiel Foundation Ceremony:
L-R: Richard, Cosima, Liszt, Daniela, Blandine, Isolde, Eva, Siegfried

Picture for 1876 – the centenary of the USA &
the opening of the first Bayreuth Festival and the premiere season of the Ring Cycle

— 1881: 68th birthday (Villa Wahnfried, Bayreuth)

At 8am on his sixty-eighth birthday, Wagner was given the Flower Greeting by the children in flower costumes, and a clock presented by his son Siegfried. Cosima had had his library ceiling decorated with the coats of arms of the Wagner Society towns. Wagner then strolled to the summerhouse with Cosima, and they exchanged gold pens and little poems. 

Lunch included guest of honour Count Arthur Gobineau, who made a five-week visit to Wahnfried, Siegfried reciting a poem by Heinrich von Stein (Siegfried’s tutor) proposing the health of eternal youth, and then daughter Elsa sang Nicht Gut noch Pracht from the gallery above. Over coffee Faf from the Festival Theatre appeared with the program for that evening on his back. The children acted out the little farces by Lope and Sachs, and Daniela recited Wolz’s linking epilogue. At the conclusion of the Sachs play, Rubinstein linked the Prelude to Die Meistersinger. When Wagner went into the salon, the children, in different costumes, sang his Gruss der Getreuen. At the conclusion of the evening, after the meal, came the Kaisermarsch with altered text.

Above: Richard Wagner and family in front of Villa Wahnfried in 1881:
L-R, top row: Blandine von Bülow (Wagner’s stepdaughter), Heinrich von Stein (Siegfried’s tutor),
Cosima Wagner, Richard Wagner, Paul von Joukowsky (family friend)
L-R, bottom row: Isolde von Bülow (Wagner’s daughter), Daniela von Bülow (Wagner’s stepdaughter),
Eva von Bülow (Wagner’s daughter) and Siegfried Wagner (Wagner’s son)

— 1882: 69th birthday (Villa Wahnfried, Bayreuth)

At Wagner’s sixty-nineth and last birthday, the boys’ choir rehearsed and conducted by Humperdinck sang the last chorus from Parsifal, Act 1. A piece by Cervantes was also performed, followed by the Liebestod, with Engelbert Humperdinck and Ernst Hausburg playing the scherzo from the Ninth Symphony behind the scenes between the two pieces. Count Gobineau was again guest of honour at Wagner’s birthday party.

This concludes the account of some of Wagner’s birthdays.


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


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