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Festival gift for Wagner fans in China

Updated: 2015-10-12 07:58:30

( China Daily )

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Wagner's operatic piece The Master-Singers of Nuremberg highlighted the 18th Beijing Music Festival. [Photo by Jiang Dong / China Daily]

Erl is a small village in the northern part of Tyrol, Austria, which is more renowned for its cows than for double bass. But every summer, opera lovers - especially fans of the German composer Richard Wagner - from all over the world flock to the village for its Tyrol Festival, which is conducted by maestro Gustav Kuhn.

"It's my personal dream to launch my own festival. My credo is to create a production from the music, from the musical idea of the composer, respecting his work and dealing with it to fulfill the composer's wish," says the 70-year-old Austrian conductor, adding that audiences return every year to the distinctive Alpine surroundings of the small village with 1,500 inhabitants, some cows and two festival halls.

The "Wagnerians" in China can savor the festival's essence because Kuhn is in China this month with the whole cast, 280 members in total featuring orchestras, singers and chorus.

From Oct 9-11, they performed at the 18th Beijing Music Festival, in the Chinese capital's premiere of two Wagner operas: the only comic opera piece of the composer, The Master-Singers of Nuremberg and a love tragedy, Tristan and Isolde. From Oct 16-18, he will stage Wagner's four-opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung in Shanghai.

In 2014, Kuhn and the festival made headlines by giving that entire four-opera cycle within 24 hours, which the conductor says challenged both the orchestra and the audience.

Based on characters from the Norse sagas and the German epic poem, The Song of the Nibelungs, the libretto and music were written by Wagner over the course of 26 years, from 1848 onward. During the upcoming performances, the four operas, including The Rhine Gold and The Valkyrie, will be presented on four consecutive days.

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