Friday 9 October 2020

Wagner 22: Oper Leipzig says farewell to its music director with all 13 of Wagner's operas

Wagner: The Ring - Siegfried - Oper Leipzig (photo Tom_Schulze)
Wagner: The Ring - Siegfried - Oper Leipzig in 2018 (photo Tom_Schulze)

In 2018, our correspondent Tony Cooper saw Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle at Oper Leipzig [see Tony's review], conducted by the company's music director and intendant, Prof. Ulf Schirmer. In 2022, Oper Leipzig will bid farewell to Prof. Schirmer with Wagner 22, a spectacular leaving present consisting of performances of all 13 of Richard Wagner's music dramas, with all the operas (except for the Ring Cycle) performed in chronological order, and the festival will include Wagner's three rarely performed early works, Die Feen, Das Liebesverbot and Rienzi. The Leipzig Gewandhausorchester will perform for all the events. 

To date, the list of confirmed guests includes Evelyn Herlitzius (Kundry), Jennifer Holloway, Lise Lindstrom, Daniela Sindram, Manuela Uhl, Markus Eiche, René Pape, Iain Paterson, Andreas Schager (Tristan), Stefan Vinke, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Michael Volle (Wotan in Das Rheingold).

The event will also be accompanied by a scholarly and artistic programme.

Wagner 22 is being dedicated to the memory of Gustav Brecher (1879-1940), who was music director and opera director from 1923 to 1933 and did much to put Oper Leipzig on the map, and Brecher is intimately linked with the idea of performing all of Wagner's operas, as Oper Leipzig's press release explains:

Gustav Brecher saw in Richard Wagner’s musical dramas the representation of the ideal union of music, text, and drama. That is why he wanted to present the composer’s complete works in Leipzig, the city of the composer's birth. Gustav Brecher’s dismissal and expulsion from Leipzig took place immediately after the premiere of Kurt Weill’s Silbersee in 1933. His vision of an artistic Wagner festival was ideologically seized upon by the Nazi’s unjust state, and five years later, the project was realized for the first and only time in the 20th century, in celebration of the composer’s 125th birthday. The antisemitic dismissal, the exile that followed, and fear cost Gustav Brecher his life: Brecher, along with his wife and mother-in-law, committed suicide while fleeing Germany in 1940.

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