Mrs Eva Wagner-Pasquier, the great-grand-daughter of Richard Wagner, is visiting Singapore from 21 – 24 October in conjunction with the first-ever staging of a Wagner opera in Singapore – “The Flying Dutchman”. Eva, who is the Ambassador of the Bayreuth Festival to Wagner Societies, will grace the Singapore Premiere (International Cast) on 23 October 2016, Victoria Theatre, as our Guest-of-Honour.
Ahead of her visit, Juliana had a chat with Eva.
JL: When did you first come to understand that your great grand-father was a great composer and how did you feel about that?
EWP: I really don’t know…. my early childhood was “normal” but you learn it one day and it becomes part and parcel of your daily life.
JL: What are your memories of life in Villa Wahnfried?
EWP: We did not live in Wahnfried. It was my Uncle Wieland’s family who lived there but we lived next door in the little gaertnerhaus on the first floor. At the time, there was no museum.
(Villa Wahnfried was Richard Wagner’s residence in Bayreuth. It is part of the Green Hill master plan for Bayreuth Festspielhaus which opened on 13 August 1876 with the Premiere of “Das Rheingold”. Wahn-fried is a compound of two words “delusion” and “peace” and a sign erected by Wagner at the entrance reads “Here where my delusions have found peace, let this place be named Wahnfried”.
A museum dedicated to the life and works of Richard Wagner since 1976, Villa Wahnfried has just re-opened after two years of renovation. SiegfriedHaus in which Eva’s grandmother resided until her death, is now dedicated to the history of the Bayreuth Festival, housing its historical collection of Wagnerian opera sets, costumes and accessories. Eva herself lived in the third building on the grounds, the little gaertnerhaus which now houses a café, a delightful respite after a garden walk and museum visit)
JL: When did you watch your first full Wagner opera and what was your experience of it?
EWP: My first Wagner opera was “Meistersinger”… I was about six years of age and had no special feelings about it because we went to performances regularly, so it was “normal”.
JL: Which is your favourite Wagner opera and why?
EWP: Whatever I hear is my favourite, like last week in Minden, I heard “Walkure” produced by the Minden Richard Wagner Society, led by Jutta Winckler. Why? Perhaps because of all his operas, this is the one I know perhaps best in the opera repertoire… but my son’s second name is “Amadeus”… and I leave tomorrow for New York, to see “Tristan and Isolde” and then, to Boston, for “Rosenkavalier” with Andris Nelsons…so as you can guess, I like many composers..
(The Minden Society is staging one Ring opera a year beginning in 2015 and culminating in the full Ring Cycle in 2019.)
JL: If you could have a meal with Richard Wagner, where would you take him and what would you like to say to him?
EWP: I’d probably take him to the restaurant in Venice near the theatre where he saw his last performance, a Carlo Goldoni piece. I would be so full of respect that I would not know what I would ask him. Perhaps, I’ll ask how he managed with Minna from Riga to England?…
(In 1839, Wagner and his actress wife Christiane Wilhelmine Minna Planer, experienced a stormy sea passage from Riga (where he was opera director from 1837) to London. The Flying Dutchman opera was inspired by that sea voyage.
The (made-in-Singapore) “Flying Dutchman”, directed by award-winning directors Chong Tze Chien and Glen Goei, with musical leadership from Darrell Ang, runs from 23 to 30 October 2016 at Victoria Theatre. Don’t miss it! Book your tickets from sistic.com now.
(Article written by Juliana Lim, Photo by Mrs Horst Eggers, Bayreuth 2016)