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AskBwog: Wagner Bicentennial on WKCR?

mmmmmm yeah opera

Jonas Kaufmann as hot dolled-up Siegfried

You may have realized that Bwog is secretly a huge opera fan.  So when this question landed in our tip form, we were more than happy to find the answer.

Dear Bwog,

I just heard WKCR is doing a 48 hour broadcast to commemorate Wagner’s bicentennial in a week and a half. Can somebody please get the scoop on this and find out which recordings they are playing, and who’s programming it? I’m planning to skip work both days if the recordings are good.



Indeed, it’s a big year for opera.  While Bwog’s twiddling our thumbs waiting for Verdi’s Bicentennial, I suppose some people are excited for Wagner’s…  Wagner was born on May 22, 1813, and WKCR will be honoring that this May 22.  Unless you’re busy with Commencement or whatever, we recommend you take the day off (and the next day too) to check out this great collection.  They’ll be broadcasting all of his operas chronologically from Rienzi to Parsifal — “We’d have done his first two, but 48 hours wouldn’t have been enough.”  Check out the lineup, courtesy of Stepan Atamian, CC’16, and WKCR, below:

Rene Kollo, Siv Wennberg, Nikolaus Hillebrand, Janis Martin, Theo Adam
Heinrich Hollreiser (conductor). Staatskapelle Dresden & Chorus.

Der Fliegende Hollander
Hans Hotter, Astrid Varnay, Set Svanholm, Sven Nilsson.
Fritz Reiner (conductor). Met Opera Orchestra & Chorus. LIVE 1950 PERFORMANCE.

Victoria de los Angeles, Grace Bumbry, Wolfgang Windgassen, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
Wolfgang Sawallisch (conductor). Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus. LIVE 1961 PERFORMANCE.

Jess Thomas, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Gottlob Frick, Elisabeth Grummer, Christa Ludwig.
Rudolf Kempe (conductor). Vienna Philharmonic & Chorus.

Tristan Und Isolde
Lauritz Melchior, Kirsten Flagstad, Sabine Kalter, Herbert Janssen.
Fritz Reiner (conductor). London Philharmonic Orchestra & Royal Opera House Chorus. LIVE 1936 PERFORMANCE.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Hans Hopf, Gerhard Unger, Otto Edelmann.
Herbert von Karajan (conductor). Bayreuth Festival & Chorus. LIVE 1951 PERFORMANCE

Das Rheingold
George London, Eberhard Wachter, Gustav Neidlinger, Set Svanholm, Kirsten Flagstad.
Sir Georg Solti. Vienna Philharmonic.

Die Walkure
Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek, Christa Ludwig, Jon Vickers, Thomas Stewart.
Berislav Klobucar (conductor). Met Opera Orchestra. 1967 LIVE PERFORMANCE

Anne Evans, Birgitta Svenden, Siegfried Jerusalem, Graham Clark, John Tomlinson.
Daniel Barenboim (conductor). Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. LIVE PERFORMANCE 1992.

Hildegard Behrens, Cheryl Studer, Christa Ludwig, Reiner Goldberg, Bernd Weikl, Matti Salminen.
James Levine (conductor). Met Opera Orchestra & Chorus.

We’ll probably have a 2 hour feature where we play excerpts from some singers we didn’t get to showcase in full operas (Helen Traubel, Lotte Lehmann, etc.), and this is where we’ll feature performances from contemporary singers such as Jonas Kaufmann, Klaus Florian Vogt, Nina Stemme, and Rene Pape. During this section, we’ll also play non-operatic works, such as his Wesendonck Lieder.

Josef Greindl, Ludwig Weber, Ramon Viney, Hermann Uhde, Martha Modl.
Clemens Krauss (conductor). Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus.

Apex of Wagner’s legacy via Vogue

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  • Somebody says:

    @Somebody Please have this streaming from their iApparatus during the Commencement speeches

  • Hmmm... says:

    @Hmmm... Wagner is a lil bit cray…

  • I can't believe says:

    @I can't believe it’s been 200 years since Wagner fought off the British to declare himself as an independent country

  • cc13 says:

    @cc13 verdi and wagner were definitely born the same year you guys

    correcting you on this definitely counts as working on this paper about verdi, right?

    1. Eric Ingram says:

      @Eric Ingram Not quite. Verdi turns 200 on October 9th or 10th depending on your source. I’m gunning for the 10th, as it’s also the birthday of Thelonious Monk, WKCR itself, and me ;-)
      good luck on u r paper(: sounds lik u don’t need it(:

      1. cc13 says:

        @cc13 ah, well i always think of the bicentennial as being a year-long thing, not just a day. though i guess it doesn’t matter because i will be celebrating verdi 4eva

        happy early birthdaay and thanks for the good luck wishes!

  • Nietzsche says:

    @Nietzsche Parsifal? More like farcical. Feh.

  • Bwog is a huge opera fan? says:

    @Bwog is a huge opera fan? Actually it’s just Alexandra Svokos…

  • Heisenberg says:

    @Heisenberg Larry David seems to enjoy Wagner

  • alum says:

    @alum Wagner was an anti-Semite. I’m seeing this as a hate crime.

    1. Emila Marty says:

      @Emila Marty I’m sorry, but it’s stupid quotes like these that make me furious. How on earth is a radio station’s playing these operas a hate crime??? Wagner certainly was an anti-semite as can be seen from his political writings, but do you know anything about his operas? Have you ever listened to or studied one of these works? Although people tend to label characters like Beckmesser and Mime as Jewish archetypes, Wagner never portrays them as such. His operas are certainly nationalistic (one certainly looks at Meistersinger a different way than a century ago when the idea of a unified Germany would still be a surprise and before the Nazi era) and were understandably attractive to fascist regimes promoting German culture and dominance, yet the works themselves are, in no way, anti-semitic. In fact, Wagner’s greatest works (which I believe are Parsifal, Tristan, and the Ring) are not about violence or purifying the world through destruction. They are about redemption through love and through compassion.

      In no way am I forcing you to listen to his operas. As a Jew myself, I understand that to listen to the music of a man whose work was used to slander and bring down my people is an extremely personal and difficult decision. But please do not attack the works. As an alum, you should know that, if CC and Lit Hum did not teach the works of anti-semitic authors, we would not be reading numerous great works. WKCR should be commended for playing what are, arguably, some of the most groundbreaking and greatest works of Western Culture. Their decision to play the works of somebody who reshaped the way we, to this day, think of art is not a hate crime against anybody. The only one who can force you to listen to it is yourself. If you don’t like it, don’t listen from May 22-23. But don’t spread bigotry either.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous i think this was just a joke. though israel had an unofficial ban on wagner until the 1990s when daniel barenboim played a few overtures after a concert, so the anti-semite view of wagner is still around.

    2. really? says:

      @really? …and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, so reading the Declaration of Independence is also a hate crime, by that logic. An excellent point, Emily!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous this looks awesome… and good recording picks. it’s nice they have some older conductors/recordings, like krauss and reiner. definitely missing out on rafael kubelik, who’s done an incredible parsifal.

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