Posted July 15, 2011

Summer finally arrived in Northern California – about 2 months late, only to be quickly recalled. In truth, the only way I can tell it’s summer is that the aroma of star jasmine is everywhere.
The SFO Ring is over. Some loved it some hated it, some thought it had merit but was ruined by too many distractions (I’m in that camp). Anthony Tommasini’s July 4th review in the New York Times was on point, I thought.
Wagner’s ‘Ring’ via Francesca Zambello and Robert Lepage –

additional info from wagadmin: 

Performances of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung have been recorded for the San Francisco Opera International Radio Broadcast, available locally on Classical KDFC (90.3 in San Francisco, 89.9 in the North/East Bay, 89.7 in Eureka, 92.5 in Lakeport/Ukiah) on the following dates: Das Rheingold (September 4), Die Walküre (October 2), Siegfried (November 6) and Götterdämmerung (December 4). The Ring operas will also be broadcast both nationally and internationally through the WFMT Radio Network. Sadly, at this time, there are no immediate plans to release this new San Francisco Opera Ring cycle on DVD or to remount this production in the near future.


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For a rousing discussion from the nay-sayers and the yay-sayers, come to the WS Post-Ring discussion this weekend:

Post-Ring Cycle Wrap Up 

Sat July 16 at 1pm,
JCC-San Francisco
3200 California St, San Francisco
non-members $10

Join your fellow Wagnerians for a post-Ring wrap-up.  Professor David Littlejohn, Professor Emeritus of Journalism at UC Berkeley, will review the 2011 SF Ring and then moderate an open discussion.  It should be an exciting meeting; Wagnerians are seldom shy about their opinons!


And please note that the WSNC meetings take a summer holiday in August. The next meeting will be the September 24th screening of a new documentary – “Siegfried Wagner: The Last Romantic”.

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WSNC member David Marsten, a frequent contributor to Leitmotive, reflects on last month’s SFO Ring:

People who have been to many performances of “Der Ring des Nibelungen” are amazed at consistently discovering new aspects in the work. I had such an experience at the Second Cycle of “Die Walküre” in San Francisco.
It has long been a puzzle on why Wagner employs the ‘Renunciation of Love’ theme when Siegmund draws out the sword from the Ash Tree in Act One of “Die Walküre”. After all, we have been listening to some of the most beguiling love music for the past hour as the twins draw closer and closer to consummating a sexual union. Even if their love is tainted (adulterous and incestuous), we are swept away by their passionate music. Why would this ‘Renunciation’ theme be appropriate here?
The answer now seems obvious, once you grasp the significance of what Siegmund does. He may have sex on his mind but what he REALLY wants is the Sword. He is told the sword was a gift from his father unaware of how powerful it might be. He may be innocent of Wotan’s ‘Great Idea’ (creating a free agent who will somehow recover the RING from Fafner)….but he does take this gift of power with determination. This is a clear choice of power over love.
And what happens soon after he gets the Sword? Shortly in the Act Two “Todesverkündigung” (the ‘Death Announcement’) he defies Brünnhilde and threatens to kill Sieglinde and his own offspring while she sleeps. That is a frightening response ….but in Wagner’s dichotomy the choice of power over love always leads to corruption and ruin.

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Friday, July 22, 7:30 PM
Herbst Theatre
$40   |   $25   |   $15 Students

Join Merola in the intimate Herbst Theatre to see the opera stars of tomorrow—just this season, half the cast of San Francisco Opera’s celebrated “Ring” cycle are former Merola participants! This concert will feature favorite Italian composers (with a little Tchaikovsky just for fun). Perfect for both the seasoned opera lover and the novice, so invite your friends and family to this summertime tradition. Running time is approximately two hours and thirty minutes with one intermission.

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Sunday, July 24, 2:00 PM
Yerba Buena Gardens,

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Celebrating Jon Vickers


Beginning July 9th and over the course of four weeks, the CBC is featuring a special series of opera broadcasts featuring the greatest roles of Jon Vickers:  Otello, Tristan, Enee (Les Troyens) and Peter Grimes.
It’s streamed live on CBC radio 2 website:

This series of broadcasts coincides with the launch of a website exhibition on Vickers   The page is worth a visit.


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First They Killed Science, then the Arts – What’s Next?

More on the disastrous defunding of all arts programs in Kansas from Joyce diDonato, a Kansas native:

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We have a new Ticket Mistress!
Joan Lam has assumed the job of Ticketmeister.  Since many people don’t read the E-Notes (how many of you are still reading this far down?), we’ve decided that it would be better for her to send out ticket information directly to you (when it is available). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten questions about some performance and are we doing a group order – when it was just mentioned in last month’s E-Notes. (Not that I blame them, we’re all busy and have lives. Heck – sometimes I hardly read my own notes! Lots of people think I’m a fountain of knowledge when I’m really just a mouthpiece.) Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to track group sales info.

wagadmin note:  As of July 15, 2011, Seattle Opera has not released any information regarding group sales pricing and the timelines for ordering.  Please kindly be patient.  The Society will provide this information to all members as soon as it becomes available to the Group Sales Coordinator Joan Lam.  This is also an opportunity to advise you that the offer of tickets to the Seattle Ring 2013 will be for WSNC MEMBERS ONLY and similar to the Bayreuth Ticket offerings, will be one ticket per paid membership.   Thanks!

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Last but not least, I want to thank the many people who sent their good wishes during my illness. I’m doing much better and starting to get my mojo back. If you read between the lines, you probably figured out that it was chemo and radiation, but I have a 97% cure prognosis.
Funny thing that only a Wagner fan would understand: when the doctor was saying in March, “Hmmm, I don’t like the looks of this.”, I didn’t think, “Ackk! I have cancer!”  Noooo, my first thought was, “Ackk! This better not screw up the Ring for me!” A friend of mine, also a WSNC member, who was going thru cancer treatment at the same time had the same reaction.  :o)
I even made it to Walküre and Götterdämmerung. We’d gotten in the month before for the prevue performance of Siegfried, so we collected ¾ of a Ring – just out of order.  And my cancer buddy, Robin, who was having a rough time of it, got in for the Cycle 3 Götterdämmerung.
As ever, if you want to be taken off this mailing list, please send me an email at and thy will be done.

Thanks, everyone – you’re all awesome!

Trish Benedict
Editor, WSNC E-Notes