© Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Siegfried 2019


The Wagner Forum Graz celebrated its 25th anniversary along with the 80th birthday of Heinz Weyringer
This lively and dignified event took place in the elegant settings of the Orangery in Graz Castle. A report by RWVI President Rainer Fineske
Many dignified guests attended the event this February.

In his opening speech, the current Chair, Dr. Alexander Singer, spoke about the development of the Society and particularly emphasised the founding aspects of the Forum 1995, i.e. 25 years ago, thus also placing the  Heinz Weyringer, who celebrated his 80th birthday on February 15th, as founder and first Chairman, (for 23 years), and current honorary Chairman of the Wagner Forum Graz, at the centre of the cultural development and achievement of the Society.

On behalf of the City of Graz, Dr. Günther Riegler, City Councillor for Culture, Science and Finance, delivered his greetings and expressed his great respect for the cultural achievements and effects of Forum Graz and its former Chairman Heinz Weyringer.

Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Sandra Holasek, representing the Governor of Graz, Hermann Schützenhöfer, also delivered official greetings, which referred to the extended and independently developing cultural work of the Ring Award, which was successfully founded in 1997 by the honouree and is still unique in the world and of course radiates and has an effect far beyond the province of Styria.  

As President of the Richard Wagner Association International, I had the great pleasure as guest of honour to deliver the greetings for the international Richard Wagner Associations. I personally felt a great need to go into more detail in my greeting about the origins of the Wagner Forum Graz and the Ring Award, which since their foundation in 1995 and 1997 have established themselves in different ways. On the one hand, the Wagner Forum Graz with its Chairman Heinz Weyringer, who has been influential for decades, initiated an opening of music and opera culture in Graz, including its focus on Richard Wagner and a broadly diversified music culture of this city. 

On the other hand, Heinz Weyringer, as founder and director of the Ring Award since 1997, succeeded in establishing an institution which has not only proven its uniqueness since that time, but is still the only competition worldwide which exclusively deals with stage direction and stage design. The competition is staffed by a high-calibre jury consisting of renowned directors of German and European opera houses, among others. The Ring Award is held every three years and is an integral part of the Richard Wagner Association International.

The ceremonial address was held by the former mayor of Graz Alfred Stingl, who has been closely associated with the Wagner Forum Graz since its foundation and has also been an active companion of the Ring Award since its inception. In a multi-layered presentation of the two associations, the guests were impressively made aware of the self-imposed tasks of both institutions in the cultural life of Graz and Styria. The Ring Award in particular, as I mentioned above, has a worldwide impact and has produced many international prize winners for stage direction and stage design to this day.

I would like to mention only two names in this context, the director Tobias Kratzer, who staged the new Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival 2019, and Valentin Schwarz, who will stage the new Ring of the Nibelung this year in 2020.

At the end of the official programme, Intendant Heinz Weyringer thanked all the evening's guests in a very warm and emotional speech for their presence and appealed to all of us not to slacken our cultural efforts in the future in order to continue to develop and promote new and lasting events.

The evening was moderated by the artistic director Michael Schilhan, who with humour and charm succeeded in guiding us all through a varied, also musical evening.

After the festivities, there was plenty of time with wine and buffet, to have many interesting and exciting conversations with some of those present, among others with the Graz Opera Director Nora Schmid, but also to make new contacts for the international Wagner community. 

Rainer Fineske
President RWVI


Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)