Opera Scotland

'Staging Wagner' 2020Wagner Society of Scotland

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Antony Negus on 'Staging Wagner'

All events are held on Sundays at the Edinburgh Society of Musicians, 3 Belford Road, EH4 3BL (by Dean Bridge) and generally run from 6.30 to 8.30pm, including a break for refreshments.

In ‘Staging Wagner’ Anthony Ogus described the historical evolution in the different styles of Wagner from Romantic Realism in the 19th century to Deconstruction in the present day.

Professor Anthony Ogus CBE is a retired academic lawyer, and Emeritus Professor at the Universities of Manchester and Rotterdam. He is a fellow of the British Academy, has published a book on opera-going, Travels with my Opera Glasses, and writes a monthly article for Opera Now.

The talk was based on a wealth of experience attending numerous Wagner operas around the world over the past 50 years and was illustrated by many fine photographs of numerous stagings.

 Richard Wagner himself adopted the conventions of the time giving an illusion of reality and his first Ring at Bayreuth was authentic if somewhat kitschy.

 In the early twentieth century the Swedish Adolphe Appia attempted to replace reality by abstraction with symbolism, blocks and lighting effect which although effective were not generally accepted. The Russian Vsevolod Meyerhold attempted a similar approach with more success.

 In Bayreuth there was an adherence to tradition by Cosima, Siegfried, and Winifred and it was not until post war years that Wieland Wagner introduced abstraction and symbolism.

 Modern realism with flamboyant stagings was presented by directors such as Richard Jones, and Keith Warner in the 1980s and 90s. Peter Hall attempted exoticism and fantasy at Bayreuth in 1983 but this did not go down well.

 Regietheater and politicisation became a particularly German form of staging in which the intentions of the composer were reinterpreted in a way that was opposite to his intentions. Gotz Friedrich, Joachim Herz and Harry Kupfer were prominent in this movement.

 Stylisation, in which aspect of the drama were exaggerated was introduce in the 1990s by Graham Vick, Claus Guth, Robert Lepage, Robert Wilson and Rosamunde Gilmore.

 Finally, ‘deconstruction’ whereby a quest for deeper meaning by taking the story apart has become another vogue in recent times. Patrice Chereau’s Centenary Ring in 1976 was an example of this genre.

 Anthony emphasised that an ideal production of a Wagner opera should have clarity of narrative, compatibility with the music and be aesthetically pleasing.




Admission £7 members, £10 non-members, students free on production of student ID.  Student membership of the Society is also free.

New members always welcome.  Pitch up and meet members or just join.

For details see the Society's website here.

Performance Dates'Staging Wagner' 2020

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Edinburgh Society of Musicians | Edinburgh

16 Feb, 19.30

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