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The Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, Venice, where Richard Wagner died on 13 February 1883

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Dates: 02/03/2013 - 25/05/2018

Location: Play


A new play by John Senczuk

2013 marks the bicentennial of the birth of composers Richard Wagner and Guiseppe Verdi

Set in Venice in late1882, Maestro explores an apocryphal meeting between Richard Wagner, arranged by his wife Cosima, and Guiseppe Verdi.

Verdi and Wagner, who were the leaders of their respective schools of music, seemed to resent each other greatly. It is believed that they never met. Verdi's comments on Wagner and his music are few and hardly benevolent ("He invariably chooses, unnecessarily, the untrodden path, attempting to fly where a rational person would walk with better results"), but at least one of them is kind: upon learning of Wagner's death, Verdi lamented, "Sad, sad, sad! ... a name that will leave a most powerful impression on the history of art.” Of Wagner's comments on Verdi, only one is well-known. After listening to Verdi's Requiem, the German, prolific and eloquent in his comments on some other composers, stated, "It would be best not to say anything."

Wagner completed Parsifal in January 1882, and a second Bayreuth Festival was held for the new opera, which was premiered on 26 May. Wagner was by this time extremely ill, having suffered through a series of increasingly severe angina attacks. At the conclusion of the Festival the Wagner family departed for an extended stay in Venice. To accommodate the large party of children, servants and expected guests they took a spacious apartment in the Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, overlooking the Grand Canal. The principal concern during the autumn and winter months was Wagner's declining health; his heart spasms had become so frequent that on 16 November Cosima recorded: "Today he did not have a spasm! … Today Verdi came."
At this time Verdi had not composed a new opera in over a decade (Aida, 1871). he was occupying his time administering his farm outside Busseto ... as well as fending off the rumours of his supposed affair with soprano Teresa Stolz. He had also just revised Simon Boccanegra for performances at La Scala in 1881, and was revising La Forza del Destino for Antwerp (scheduled for 1883).

Their achievments were comparable, but their personalities, their approaches to music and drama, and their complex legacies made them incompatible … just how incompatible?

Production details tba

Rehearsed Reading Wagner Society WA tba