“If only the Wagner days didn’t have to be cancelled!”
– my acquaintances and I wished during the 2020 lockdowns when discussing how much we miss live cultural programmes. In mid-June, we already missed the possibly most intensive, most passionate series so much, which is not only a favourite to Hungarian music fans, but to international Wagner fans from all around the world. Back then, nobody could imagine that there would be TWO consecutive years without live Wagner days! In early 2021, we started to hope that the audience can be welcome again, but now it’s clearly still not possible.
However, Müpa doesn’t let us be without a Wagner experience. Even though we cannot listen to these cathartic, extremely strong musical masterpieces live in a concert hall, Müpa Home provides us several evenings of this magical world. Two orchestral concerts, a song recital evening and a 4-day-long series of the revisited Ring will be there online for Wagner fans all around the world, between 13th and 20th June.
Nobody can be neutral towards Wagner’s music. Some hate it, yet others adore it in an inexplicable, almost religious-esoteric way, as it is truly intoxicating music that requires deep concentration and affects all senses. It has a very strong effect, your heartbeat gets fast, you feel in love, or paralysed, or drunk: even younger generations who are not used to sitting in a concert hall for hours feel it. They find connections between their beloved epic films and Wagner, and suddenly understand what leitmotif is and how it shapes the artistic process.
“It is like drugs. But it is even better!”
– as a new Wagner fan said, recalled in a previous interview with Ádám Fischer.
We can hear extracts from Der fliegende Holländer, Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde, and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg during the first and second nights of the festival, on 13th and 16th June. Well-known ouvertures, uplifting choral pieces, monologues, duets, sometimes even whole scenes, or (in the case of Tristan and Isolde a whole act) can be heard. And what an act…! It is one of the most impactful parts within the whole history of music, utterly romantic and loving – it’s like making love through music!
The two evenings feature international stars who have been to Budapest during the last decade already. German Annette Dasch, Swedish Iréne Theorin, Polish Tomasz Konieczny and Danish Magnus Vigilius will be on stage on the 13th. Then, on the 16th, English Catherine Foster, Germans Simone Schneider, Gerhard Siegel és Albert Dohmen, US-American Corby Welch and Hungarian Schöck Atala will please the audience.
We will see a brand new face of Michael Volle, enchantingly sounding German baritone, who brought some lovely Bach cantatas to Müpa in 2019. This time, Volle and his piano accompanist Helmuth Deutsch give a song recital on 14 June, with some French songs by Wagner, among other things.
The second half of the festival will completely be about the Ring tetralogy (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) – a remastered recording from 2019 can be seen from 17 June on.
“The arrangement is not new per se, it is more like actualised. We wanted to follow the Bayreuth ideology that comes from Wagner: everything has to be reexamined and rethought all the time, and what is good has to be kept, and what is bad has to be changed. One clear example: in The Rhinegold, there used to be pictures projected on the wall of the building of the Müpa under construction. This evoked different associations ten years ago: back then, the Müpa was the building that everyone is proud of, just like Wotan is proud of the Walhalla, even if it costs much more than originally planned – just like the Walhalla. This image is different today, so we left them out. But there is nothing that I would remember from the original arrangement that I remember of with nostalgia, because then we would have kept it”
– conductor and artistic director of the Wagner Days, Ádám Fischer, said about the renewal of the Ring.
“I think we could concentrate on the characters’ psychology much more. We do not only show what they do, but also what they think or subconsciously feel. In short, it reflects much more on the unique Wagnerian motif technique. The new version gives much more possibilities for singers, orchestra and conductor, but it is also more responsibility. The imagery of the new arrangement also helps to use the matchless acoustic possibilities of the Müpa”
– he added.
In the main roles we can see Johan Reuter (Wotan), Catherine Foster (Brünnhilde), Stefan Vinke (Siegfried) and many more.
Müpa Home is free and easily accessible from the Müpa website!
Article: Zsuzsanna Deák
Translation: Zsófia Hacsek