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Commentary

A scene from Elektra [Photo courtesy of Tiroler Festspiele Erl]
12 May 2009

The Tuscan Convent Where Wagnerian Singers Are Trained

In a convent in the lovely Tuscan country side, near Lucca (Giacomo Puccini’s birthplace) there is the Mount Graal.

The Tuscan Convent Where Wagnerian Singers Are Trained

Above: A scene from Elektra [Photo courtesy of Tiroler Festspiele Erl]

 

As a matter of fact, if you go there you not meet neither Amfortas nor Gurmenanz , but young singers studying Wagnerian roles in the “Accademia di Montegral”. The Academy was established some 22 years ago by Gustav Kuhn (a very well-known Austrian conductor who specialized in Wagner and Strauss, but not disdain Mozart and Verdi). Kuhn also loves Italy where has been Artistic Director of the Rome Opera House, the Sferisterio Festival and a star of the Rossini Opera Festival and of the San Carlo Theatre in Naples. The Academy is financed by a local savings and loans association and by a number if Austrian firms. In the Convento dell’Angelo , both an impressive monastery built by the Padri Passionisti and a pleasant and peaceful environment in which the artists can concentrate on their work, there also an annual chamber music festival , organized with the support of Col-Legno records (www.col-kegno.com). The next festival runs from May 14 to May 18; it offers a combination of classical music (from Bach to Puccini) and contemporary authors (Eggert, Ligeti): on Sunday May 18th, the Holy Mass will be accompanied by Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle; for information, www.montegral.com. In the Summer, there is a Festival in Tyrol, in the spectacular Passion Music Center of the small town of Erl (80 km from Munich and also, but in a different direction, 80 km from Salzburg). For several year the main feature has been a low cost but good quality production of Wagner’s Ring (www.tiroler-festpiele.at) . Next July, the Gods and the Nibelungs will take a rest, but there will be an exciting new production of Strauss’ Elektra which, for the first time in years, will be performed without the usual deletions and abbreviations.

The other new production is Meistersinger von Nürnberg, directed and conducted by Kuhn The costumes will be designed by the artistic manager of the costume manufacturing Lenka Radecky A new member of the team is the international sought-after architect and stage designer Jaafar Chalabi whose works for the Company of Nacho Duato in Madrid, Paris and Moscow. Matthew Best, a Heldenbariton for the great Wagner and Strauss operas, will give his first Hans Sachs. Michael Baba will be heard as Walther von Stolzing. The cast of another leading part means a connection to Erl: the international acting singer Martin Kronthaler will return to his hometown and perform Sixtus Beckmesser in Wagner’s opera.

Giuseppe Pennisi

Passionsspielhaus-Erl.gifPassionsspielhaus Erl [Photo © TFE]

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