Saturday, July 15, 2006

Stephen Gould: Bayreuth Opera Festival 2006

Stephen Gould, Heldentenor, 1962. Posted by Picasa
"If one has not heard Wagner at Bayreuth, one has heard nothing! Take lots of handkerchiefs because you will cry a great deal! Also take a sedative because you will be exalted to the point of delirium!" ~ Gabriel Faure (1845-1924), letter, 1884
It is time for the Bayreuth Opera Festival! In 2004 and 2005, my brother sang the role of Tannhauser to great reviews. This year he sings the title role of Siegfried in two segments of Wagner's Ring Cycle (Die Gotterdammerung & Siegfried). His performances begin July 29th and extend through the month of August. This year the Bayreuth festival received 492,000 ticket requests, nine times the 53,900 seats available; people wait up to ten years for tickets.
When discussing Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, or Ring Cycle, certain words and phrases commonly pop up: "massive," "ambitious," "seldom given," "pinnacle" and "the largest undertaking any opera company can do."

Indeed, running at more than 16 hours long and featuring an orchestra of up to 100 musicians, the German composer's magnum opus demands specifically trained singers, sets and costumes appropriate for its epic proportions and, sometimes, a staff of hundreds to mount.

Wagner is extremely difficult to sing and there are only a limited number of people in the world who can sing him. Why are there so few soloists who can perform the Ring? Stamina is one reason, Boswell says. Singers "have to be extremely strong because some of these roles go on forever." Another factor is the years of specialized training needed to successfully present Wagner's sound." ~ From CBC Online
Stephen's schedule may be found on his website along with pictures and sound clips of his various performances. After the introduction you have a choice of English or German. The various Bayreuth operas are usually broadcast on the internet through Operacast and a schedule should be posted soon.

....And today! (Click pictures for larger view)

Picture posted from Das Opernglas. This is part of an interview published in this months edition. To view go to Das Opernglas home page, then click on the magazine picture bottom left; then on "Interviews", also bottom left; and finally on "Stephen Gould", top right. This site did not give permalinks to each page and it is written in German. Stephen speaks German quite fluently now, I do not.

PS: The "doll" is actually a Wagner puppet given to him by friends. (end of post)

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