© Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Siegfried 2019

News from the Committee

"Keyword Wagner" in Reykjavik from 01.06.-06.06.2022
The motto of this year's "Stichwort Wagner", actually already in 2020, was: Richard Wagner and Iceland.
Berlin, 07.06.2022

Selma Gudmundsdottir and her team had put together an all-round package that left nothing to be desired. When Wagner, the Ring of the Nibelung and Iceland come together, it couldn't be more perfect.

The symposium, as the centrepiece of "Stichwort Wagner", dealt with the Nordic sources and their influence on Richard Wagner and his work for his most extensive musical project, "Der Ring des Nibelungen".

The event took place at Iceland's University, House of Languages, "Veröld".

Divided into a first part in German and a second part in English.

At the beginning of the first part: The Origins of the Ring of the Nibelung, pianist and chairperson of the Icelandic RWV Selma Gudmundsdottir took us to the origins of the Ring with her lecture and film about the first production of the Ring in Iceland, in an authorised abridged version by Wolfgang Wagner, who had accompanied the project from the beginning.

Dr. Arni Björnsson, the author of Iceland and the Ring of the Nibelung spoke about Eddas and Sagas and convincingly showed us how much Iceland is actually in Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, namely almost 90%.

Prof. Dr. Thorhallur Eythorsson explained Richard Wagner's poetic language and the Old Icelandic sources to the audience and took us on a mythological journey through the Old Icelandic texts and written ancient records of centuries long past.

Under the title: What has become of the gods of Icelandic mythology in Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, Prof. Dr. Danielle Buschinger, Germanist and researcher on Old and Middle High German, spoke. She referred to texts and poems of the High Middle Ages in relation to Wagner and "His Ring"! She again showed us the connections between these texts and Wagner's creation of the Ring and its content.

In the second part, which was held by almost all the scholars once again for the English-speaking audience, Dr. Arni Heimir Ingolfsson, gave a very interesting and exciting introduction to Icelandic music history, which took a completely different course.

Which, if only from the point of view of the severely limited connections of the Icelanders to other peoples of the North, was shaped in a completely different way throughout the centuries.

Around the symposium, the Icelandic association had arranged a very varied side programme for its guests, which accompanied us on two days with an 8-hour and 10-hour excursion programme, which was very well organised and allowed us to experience, despite continuous rain, the most beautiful and exciting experiences of the country.

On two evenings we experienced the Wesendoncklieder, the Siegfried Idyll and the Prélude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde with the Chamber Orchestra Reykjavik and the Icelandic mezzo-soprano Hanna Dora Sturludóttir in the "Harpa", the new cultural centre in Reykjavik, located directly at the harbour. Hanna Dora Sturlutóttir was a scholarship holder of the RWV Berlin (1996).

On Saturday, there was another highlight of the musical programme with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and conductor and singer Barbara Hannigan, who also sang to her conducting. Among others, Arnold Schoenberg's "Verklärte Nacht" and the Lulu Suite by Alban Berg.

On Sunday, the Stichwort Wagner concluded at Salurinn Kópavogur with a piano concert by former scholarship holder and virtuoso Albert Mamriev. The pianist's excellently selected programme was themed Wagner and Beethoven and included not only Beethoven sonatas but also Liszt transcriptions from works by Richard Wagner. An enthusiastic audience took leave of Iceland with inspiring and unforgettable impressions.

Rainer Fineske
President RWVI