Posted December 17, 2012

Posted December 17, 2012

A new short documentary from Donald Collup

Donald Collup has presented his documentary on Astrid Varnay and the film Three Bayreuth Divas for the Wagner Society of Northern California. He has created a new short work which is available on YouTube at the following link:






Below is the description of his new short documentary:


In 1959, a mezzo soprano from Atlanta, Georgia and pupil of Karin Branzell named Frances Martin was invited by Friedelin Wagner to attend the master classes at Bayreuth.  She was the only student that summer that was offered a contract for the following summer, making her professional operatic debut singing Ortlinde in Die Walküre.

She went on to sing leading roles in Germany, including Kostelnicka, Gertrud, Suzuki, Marcellina, Lady Macbeth, Eboli, Venus and both Mary and Senta.   She primarily sang in Darmstadt and Coburg, but guested in Aachen and Munster.

A former journalism major, she wrote numerous long letters to her parents and many people associated with the Bayreuth Festival during her, albeit brief, 3 year stay in Germany..  One letter in particular vividly describes that week in Bayreuth in 1960 and this formed the basis of a 21 minute youtube I just produced.  She reads the letter as narration and using many photographs from that period, I fashioned what I think is an entertaining chronicle.  Her Southern accent (resembling, as one friend put it,  that of Margaret Mitchell) combined with the aura of Wagner’s mecca, provides a delightful experience for the viewer.   The video ends with a live  performance of “O don fatale” (in German) as background for a collection of images of her in the leading roles she sang.

Thank you Donald for this fascinating look into the behind the scenes Bayreuth from the singer’s viewpoint.