The Wagner Society of New York will offer its 33rd Annual Seminar from Noon to 5:15 p.m. on Sunday February 24, 2013. The Seminar, on Parsifal, will be held at the Dicapo Opera Theatre, 184 East 76th Street (between Lexington and 3rd Avenues).
The level of erudition and of entertainment at these seminars is equally and unexpectedly high. This year Anthony Sheppard, Chair of the Music Department at Williams College, will speak on “Parsifal and Rituals of the Future,” and Saul Lillienstein — an engaging and admired commentator for the Washington National Opera and the Washington Wagner Society — will offer a talk on “Why We Care: It’s About the Music.”
Between those two speakers, a Roundtable will take place with featured members of the cast of the new Met production of Parsifal. Confirmed are Evgeny Nikitin (Klingsor), Rúni Brattaberg (Titurel), and Craig Montgomery (Chorus), with others anticipated. This part of the Annual Seminar is an audience delight.
Other scheduled speakers include Yale’s Joshua Billings, on “From Parzifal to Parsifal: Wagner as Poet and Dramatist,” Marian Burleigh-Motley of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on “Parsifal and French Symbolism,” and Joe Pearce, vocal historian, on “Montsalvat’s Chosen People: Jewish Singers in Wagner’s Most Christian Opera.”
(Parsifal a Christian Opera? Don’t get me started. Buddha, Schopenhauer….)
Tickets are available at the door, but reservations can be made at the web site of the Wagner Society of New York. I will be moderating, and I hope readers of this blog will be sure to introduce themselves!
Re the blogger’s scepticism about Pearce’s title, please read the following quote from the Wikipedia article on Parsifal, which shows that Wagner himself called it as a “most Christian” opera, and strongly asserted this in the context of his own virulent anti-semitic feelings :
“The conductor of the premiere was Hermann Levi, the court conductor at the Munich Opera. Since King Ludwig was sponsoring the production, much of the orchestra was drawn from the ranks of the Munich Opera, including the conductor. Wagner objected to Parsifal being conducted by a Jew (Levi’s father was in fact a rabbi). Wagner first suggested that Levi should convert to Christianity, which Levi declined to do. Wagner then wrote to King Ludwig that he had decided to accept Levi despite the fact that (he alleged) he had received complaints that “of all pieces, this most Christian of works” should be conducted by a Jew. When the King expressed his satisfaction at this, replying that “human beings are basically all brothers”, Wagner wrote to the King that he “regard[ed] the Jewish race as the born enemy of pure humanity and everything noble about it”.