THE VALKYRIE (DIE WALKüRE) IN CONCERT
By Richard Wagner
conducted by Music Director Pietari Inkinen
An opera in three acts sung in German with English surtitles
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
with support from the Wagner Society of New Zealand and the Wagner New Zealand Foundation
In memory of Lloyd Morrison
[5 hrs 40 mins incl. two intervals]
at Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
22 Jul 2012
CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch
25 Jul 2012
Auckland Town Hall, Auckland
28 Jul 2012
Reviewed by: John Button (The Dominion Post); Sharon Talbot;
Once-in-a-lifetime Wagner opera in concert with the NZSO
Never before has the momentous Wagner opera The Valkyrie (Die Walküre) been performed in concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
An international stellar cast of singers and full symphony orchestra, featuring more than 100 musicians, will join forces this July to bring you the ground-breaking music of Richard Wagner's epic music drama – The Valkyrie (Die Walküre).
Full of love, abandonment, infidelity, and incest, The Valkyrie is the second of four operas that form the cycle The Ring of the Nibelung (Der Ring des Nibelungen). It features some of Wagner's most memorable music, including the popular excerpt Ride of the Valkyries. In fact, you may have already heard this masterpiece used in films such as Apocalypse Now (when the Air Cavalry regiment plays it through loudspeakers during a helicopter attack) or even on a New Zealand television advertising campaign featuring a toilet and a duck!?
Despite its frequent use in popular culture, Wagner developed this epic tale of gods and men from Norse mythology. So, we invited none other than the crème de la crème of New Zealand and international singers to represent these dramatic characters in this once-in-a-lifetime opera in concert with your national orchestra.
Helden baritone John Wegner is no stranger to the role of Wotan, King of the gods, with an impressive six seasons at Bayreuth Festival – the spiritual home of Wagner's music. He finds his match in the dramatic prowess of Margaret Medlyn's Fricka. Internationally-renowned Wagnerian tenor Simon O'Neill returns home to sing the demanding role of Siegmund – one he has already performed at the Royal Opera House and La Scala - and the exquisite soprano Edith Haller is Sieglinde, who was first heard in this role at the 2010 Bayreuth Festival. Dramatic soprano superstar, and prestigious Richard Tucker award recipient, Christine Goerke will be an indomitable force singing the role of Brünnhilde, and in the role of Hunding is another shining star – the charismatic New Zealander Jonathan Lemalu, whose rich, resonant bass makes him an audience favourite.
Supported by an astounding hoard of eight “Valkiwis” (Valkyries who are all Kiwis), and backed by a super-sized New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, including three harps, four French Horns, four Wagner Tubas, a contrabass trombone, bass trumpet, steerhorn, and even a thunder machine, this extraordinary musical event, conducted by critically acclaimed Music Director Pietari Inkinen, will be cherished and remembered for years to come.
Wagner's epic tale of gods and men will grab you by the horns and not let you go. Well, not for five hours and 40 minutes that is (including two intervals). So book your meals with us, bring a cushion, escape from the cold, and prepare for an unforgettable musical memory with the NZSO.
You simply can't miss this rare opportunity to hear the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in The Valkyrie, in memory of Lloyd Morrison with support from the Wagner Society of New Zealand and the Wagner New Zealand Foundation.
Renowned New Zealand bass-baritone Roger Wilson will give a free 30-minute talk in all three centres, 45-minutes prior to each performance. For more details about each NZSO pre-concert talk, visit www.nzso.co.nz/talks
WELLINGTON / Michael Fowler Centre / Sunday 22 July / 3 pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ
CHRISTCHURCH / CBS Canterbury Arena / Wednesday 25 July / 5 pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ
AUCKLAND / Town Hall / Saturday 28 July / 4 pm
THEEDGE / 0800 289 842 / BUYTICKETS.CO.NZ
Duration: 5 hours 40 minutes including two intervals
When the NZSO received the complete set of scores for Wagner's The Valkyrie, they weighed 32 kgs altogether.
Star tenor Simon O'Neill appeared on the 1998 NZ one-dollar performing arts postage stamp.
This is NZSO Music Director Pietari Inkinen's debut performance of Wagner's The Valkyrie with the NZSO.
It was Richard Wagner's 199th birthday on Tuesday 22 May, 2012.
This is the first time, since performing Parsifal in 2006, that the NZSO has performed an opera by Wagner. Parsifal, conducted by Anthony Negus and featuring Sir Donald McIntyre,Margaret Medlyn, Simon O'Neill, Paul Whelan, Martin Snell, and Grant Dickson, was staged as part of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts. Before that the NZSO performed a concert version of Das Rhinegold in 1997 with NZSO Conductor Laureate Dr Franz-Paul Decker, also part of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts.
Outside of an international tour, this is the single largest undertaking for the NZSO.
The Valkyrie includes a number of unusual instruments including a steerhorn and thunder machine, which are both played off-stage. The steerhorn is described as a long medieval bugle horn. It has a conical bore, no bell flare, and a straight tube.
It also includes four Wagner Tubas, an instrument originally invented by Richard Wagner for his operatic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. The Wagner Tuba combines elements of both the tuba and French Horn and is sometimes referred to as the Bayreuth tuba. Wagner was inspired to create the instrument after visiting Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, in Paris in 1853. Composers Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, and Bruckner, amongst others, have written for the instrument.
In Norse mythology, a Valkyrie is responsible for deciding who dies during battle. Valkyrie originates from the Old Norse ‘valkyrja' - a "chooser of the slain" and is one of a host of female figures.
Wagner took his tale from the Norse mythology told in a collection of old Norse poems Poetic Edda and in the legendary saga - the Volsunga Saga.
The Valkyrie premiered in Wagner's Bayreuth Festival as part of the complete cycle on 14 August 1876. Earlier it premiered at the National Theatre Munich, 26 June, 1870 at the insistence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
PIETARI INKINEN Conductor
SIMON O'NEILL Siegmund
EDITH HALLER Sieglinde
CHRISTINE GOERKE Brünnhilde
JOHN WEGNER Wotan
JONATHAN LEMALU Hunding
MARGARET MEDLYN Fricka
The “Valkiwis” (Valkyries):
Morag Atchison, Amanda Atlas, Sarah Castle, Kristin Darragh, Wendy Doyle, Lisa Harper-Brown, Anna Pierard, Kate Spence