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The very next evening, the first official concert of the opera festival (as in: something you had to pay for and line up for hard-to-get tickets) was a recital by Wagner-diva Waltraut Meier: a fascinating case of Kundry singing Heidenröslein.

It is rather unusual to hold a recital in a large opera house like Munich's, but in this case there was not space enough to hold the enormous quantity of Meier fans, so many were left outside with no tickets. Living in Munich, Kammersängerin of Munich Staatsoper, Meier always has a full house in Munich, no matter what she sings. Her international career began 1983 with her triumphant success as Kundry in Wagner's Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival, and since then she has appeared regularly at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, the Opéra National in Paris, the Vienna State Opera and of course the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Kundry, Isolde, Ortrud, Venus and Sieglinde have become her second names.

What causes one of the most important Wagner interpreters of our time to open the opera festival with a recital? Waltraud Meier has consecrated her current season mainly to 'singing in its purest form', which means performing not opera but recitals and concerts. So she figured out a giant program that she has presented throughout Europe and Russia, as well as the United States. For all of her Wagner fans: In 2005 she will be back on stage with a new production of Tristan (stage director: Peter Sellars, conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen) at the Opéra de Bastille in Paris, as well as in a further interpretation of Kundry in the new Parsifal production at the Vienna State Opera.

Singing Lied is, as she said, like polishing her vocal chords. For the cleansing action of this evening, she chose no less than twenty nine Lieder (twenty four in the regular program and five encores), one more difficult to sing than the next:

Johannes Brahms: Feldeinsamkeit (Op 86 No 2); Meine Liebe ist grün (Op 63 No 5); Wir wandelten (Op 96 No 2); Von ewiger Liebe (Op 43 No 1); Die Mainacht (Op 43 No 2); An eine Äolsharfe (Op 19 No 5); Liebe und Frühling II (Op 3 No 3)

Hugo Wolf: In der Frühe ; Denk es, o Seele! ; Wo find ich Trost ; Das verlassene Mägdlein ; Verborgenheit ; Gesang Weylas


Franz Schubert: Der Wanderer (D489); Gruppe aus dem Tartarus (D583); Frühlingsglaube (D686); Heideröslein (D257); Die Forelle (D550); Wanderers Nachtlied I (D768); Erlkönig (D328); Nacht und Träume (D827); Der Zwerg (D771); Du bist die Ruh (D776); Dem Unendlichen (D291)

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Copyright © 5 July 2004 Tess Crebbin and Sissy Kotzebue, Germany


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