After the Ring, festival to feature opera about Wagner himself

Published: 5 June 2024
Reporter: Colin Davison

Bradley Daley (Siegfried) in this year's Ring Cycle Credit: Matthew Williams-Ellis, Longborough Festival Opera

Two weeks before the start of Longborough’s epic Ring cycle, starting on Sunday 16 June, the Cotswold opera festival has announced its plans for next year, including the UK première of a work about the composer himself, Wahnfried: The Birth of the Wagner Cult by Avner Dorman.

Dorman, a 49-year-old Israeli now living in the United States, has written that his grandparents came from Germany and, while as a musician he was greatly influenced by German culture, the music of Bach and Beethoven, the writings of Goethe and Nietzsche, he struggled to come to terms with how that society gave birth to Nazism.

His 2016 opera, which uses elements of black humour to create a fantastical sense of the Wagner household, tells how the composer's widow Cosima enlisted the philosopher Houston Stewart Chamberlain to promote the association of his music with German nationalism.

"The spread of hatred, intolerance and fear that we see in Wahnfried... are the same elements of the dark and hateful plague we see all around the world today," Dorman wrote.

Other works in the 2025 programme will include Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande and new productions of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Dido and Aeneas by Purcell, all under music director Anthony Negus and led by artistic director Polly Graham and executive director Emily Gottlieb.

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