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Parsifalmania: The early history of Wagner’s final opera in America

April 6, 2019 - 8:00 am - 10:30 am

Parsifalmania: The early history of Wagner’s final opera in America

April 6, 2019  1:00 p.m. JCC-SF 3200 California Street, San Francisco, CA

By Jeffery S. McMillan

Richard Wagner’s Parsifal was intended by the composer to be experienced exclusively by audiences at his festival theater in Bayreuth. Undeterred, American impresarios began programing music from the opera in concerts immediately after the 1882 unveiling and gave the United States stage premiere in 1903 ushering in a robust, if unauthorized, performance tradition in the new world. The American “Parsifalmania” was encouraged primarily by New York’s Metropolitan Opera which established Parsifal in the repertory through memorable performances, cross-country tours, and consistency; after the first World War, the Met presented Parsifal every season for 30 consecutive years. Utilizing an array of early recordings, photographs, and archival resources, this presentation will trace the explosion of American interest in Wagner’s final stage work from first exposure to the golden era of Wagnerian performance in New York during the late 1930s. A 2019 restoration by Marston Records of the Met’s 1938 broadcast of Parsifal starring Lauritz Melchior and Kirsten Flagstad—a grail to record collectors and one of the earliest complete recordings of the opera—will be featured as an example of the musical standards and vocal splendor enjoyed by the American public after their long acquaintance with the work.

Jeffrey McMillan is a member of the Board of Directors of the WSNC and Editor of Leitmotive. McMillan is Senior Communications Manager for San Francisco Opera. He has written for Opera News, Musical America, and is the author of Delightfulee: The Life and Music of Lee Morgan.

This event takes place at the JCC-SF 3200 California Street, San Francisco, CA 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.   Program is free to members and a suggested donation of $10.00 for non-members



April 6, 2019
8:00 am - 10:30 am


The Wagner Society of Northern California

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