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Richard Wagner's 200th birthday - May 22
Wagner's 200th birthday - May 22, 1813
Several years ago, some friends and I started listening to operas every Saturday evening on DVDs. Before we knew it, months had passed - and I came to an appreciation of opera which I had never had before.
We spent two months listening to Wagner's operas, which were often several hours in length. I'll never forget these operas, and we have thought about doing it again soon.
So I don't want to belittle in any way Wagner's great contribution to music on his 200th birthday. But first - just for the fun of it - here is a silly video, but quite amazing, about Wagner's music and cats.
Ride of the Valkitties
Anna Russel explains the ring cycle
Anna Russel was a great classical music comic. You have to see and hear her work:
A little taste of Wagner
I think the longest opera is Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg), which is over 4 1/2 hours in length. Since I was in Nuremberg during my time in the service, I have always had a special place for this opera.
For those of you who haven't listened to Wagner before, here are several shorter pieces.
The first is the Siegfried Idyll, with Haitink and the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Next is the Tannhauser Overture, played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Klaus Tennstedt. The actual operas, of which the overtures are the first part, are quite long, but are also quite wonderful.
One of the great conductors of Wagnerian operas was Herbert von Karajan. But when he was doing his best work, for the most part video was not yet invented so that color productions of his work could be preserved. But you will surely enjoy this excerpt, also from the opera Tannhauser.
A great way to enjoy opera, and Richard Wagner, is to make yourself comfortable with friends, take breaks, and enjoy some of the best music ever known.
And I can't resist putting this web site on Wagner's 200th birthday, as well. These are stamps which lead to music! It's a great idea.