PREVIOUS Wagner days

2017
Wagner, Verdi… and Goethe
A brief report on the recent 2017 highly successful annual Giornate Wagneriane event in Venice by Professor Frank Piontek (orginally in German)

To celebrate 25 years of the Associazione Richard Wagner di Venezia, a three-day event was held with no less than two concerts, a symposium, an exhibition and a CD presentation.

Under the direction of Alessandra Althoff-Pugliese, and held in the memory of her late husband Giuseppe Pugliese, we gathered once again in the Palazzo Vendramin on the Grand Canal, the place where Wagner died, in order to be entertained musically and intellectually at a high level.

On the morning of the 1st of December, in collaboration with the Fondazone Amici della Fenice, the event began with a CD presentation in the great Apollo hall of the Teatro La Fenice; the young composer and pianist Orazio Sciortino, a 2009 bursary scholar of the WS Venice, together with Gianni Tangucci presented his new CD: Orazio Sciortino - Self Portrait - Piano Works and produced his own compositions, including an impressive Tombeau pour Pergolesi. Sciortino also played the following evening in the grand banqueting hall of the Palazzo Vendramin, where he performed a programme that was both dramaturgically and musically highly dense and convincing, and sometimes also technically extremely difficult. With his choice of Schubert's Wanderer in the Liszt adaptation, four further Goethe-song transcriptions by Liszt, Schubert's monumental Wanderer-Fantasia, the equally monumental Gretchen movement from Liszt's Faust Symphony, Liszt's Valse infernale from Gounod's Faust and the touching "longing" song as an encore, Sciortino moved directly into the heart of the morning's symposium theme. "Liszt e Goethe: Un viaggio pianistico" was the musical centre of the overall programme "Wagner e Verdi ... e Goethe".

In the morning Dr. Frank Piontek (Bayreuth) and Prof. Antonio Rostagno (Università Roma I) presented in the Salone delle Festivale of the Palazzo Vendramin. Piontek spoke about the apparent "disproportion" of the two great composers - and found in the end amazing similarities in their operatic-historical outlook on the future.

Rostagno enquired into the similarities of Ballo in Maschera - an interesting production of which is currently on offer at La Fenice - to Tristan, supported this with sound reasoning and interpreted the barely known political background of this important work.

Piontek then read his manuscript on Goethe's experience of Venice, written for the symposium under the aegis of Oswald Georg Bauer for the "Centro Europeo di Studi e Ricerche Richard Wagner".

The three-day festival ended with the second concert in the short series "Concerto Giovani Concertisti" as part of the opening of an exhibition ("The Second Journey of Goethe to Venice - 1790") in the Palazzo Albrizzi, where the Associazione Culturale Italo-Tedesca is located. The mezzo-soprano Silvia Regazzo, also a WS Venice scholarship holder from 2009, sang - having stepped in at the last moment - accompanied by Sciortino, various songs of Goethe poems by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Liszt - and by Verdi, who in his youth set three texts of the German poet as Italian "romances". the performance ended with the two songs of Gretchen: highly Italian in lyrics and style - which constituted an enchanting finale to the theme "Wagner e Verdi ... e Goethe".


Frank Piontek