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Arts.21

Out of Bayreuth

2013 brings the bicentenary of Richard Wagner's birth. In our series Out of Bayreuth, reporters explore the Wagner cosmos. From St Petersburg via Beijing to Venice, we show how Wagner's works are staged around the world.

Part 6: Wagner and Venice – an intense and dramatic relationship

A place of refuge, yearning and inspiration – Richard Wagner retreated to Venice time and again. It’s also where he died, in 1883. Italians love Wagner’s operas, but they also love their Verdi. This year marks the 200th anniversary of their births. La Fenice opera house is paying tribute to both composers by presenting both Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” and Verdi’s “Otello.”

Part 5: "Lohengrin" in Beijing – Where Wagner is virgin territory

In China, only outright music-lovers know the name Richard Wagner. But curiosity about western operas is growing, and with it, the number of Wagner enthusiasts. Now his opera “Lohengrin” is in the repertoire of Beijing’s National Grand Theatre. Italian director Giancarlo del Monaco, who has also made a career for himself in Germany, has staged the production.

Part 4: Studying Wagner– A crash course in Ohio

In the town of Berea in the US state of Ohio, budding Valkyries and heroic tenors are learning to master German pronunciation and preparing to enter Wagner’s mythical world. The workshop at Baldwin Wallace University is titled “Wagner Intensive,” and it includes German lessons and scene study. Even seasoned professionals work up a sweat.

Part 3: Wagner and Israel – A fraught relationship

Richard Wagner’s music is not officially forbidden in Israel, but it is subject to a social ban, because he was an anti-Semite and Hitler’s favourite composer. But shouldn’t we be able to separate the man from his work? Holocaust survivors like Noah Klieger say we shouldn’t. Israeli choreograph Saar Magal says we should and is now challenging that taboo with her performance piece, “Hacking Wagner.”

Part 2: Shortened "Ring" – The "Colón Ring" in Buenos Aires

At the prestigious Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, director Valentina Carrasco is staging Wagner’s "Ring of the Nibelung" in a compact version. The mammoth spectacle designed for four evenings has been cut by more than half to be performed in a mere seven hours. The composer’s great-niece Katharina Wagner had been set to direct, but quit the production.

Part 1: Wagner in Russia – Condemned and adored

Richard Wagner’s concert tour of Russia in 1863 was so successful that St. Petersburg offered him the position of general music director. Even though he never took up the position, Wagner was long revered here. Later he was branded an anti-Marxist banned from the stage. Now his music is experiencing a renaissance, thanks in part to Valery Gergiev, Russia’s leading Wagnerian conductor.