Composer Richard Wagner is one of the most influential and controversial
figures in the entire history of music. One work in particular took
him more than 25 years to create, Der Ring des Nibelungen, a 16-hour
music drama comprised of four operas.
Orchestra at The University of Southern Mississippi will present
a two-hour performance of highlights from this imposing volume of
work at 7:30 p.m. April 22 at Bennett Auditorium on the Southern
Miss Hattiesburg campus, and at 8 p.m. April 24 at Thalia Mara Hall
singers will join an expanded Southern Miss orchestra in the performances.
The prospect of having such talented and experienced singers in
the vicinity of her students prompted Dr. Maryann Kyle, director
of Southern Opera and Music Theatre in the Southern Miss School
of Music, to develop a three-day workshop for students to learn
from the masters.
The 2004 Southern
Vocal Arts Conference, "Richard Wagner and His World,"
will offer master classes with the all three guest soloists April
22-23 in Hattiesburg and, in an educational collaboration, at Belhaven
College in Jackson April 23.
singers, directors, voice teachers, vocal coaches or anyone interested
in the history of Wagner's time and the role he played, classes
include lectures by Wagnerian scholars on topics ranging from "Dresden
and the Kingdom of Saxony during the Time of Wagner" by Dr.
Reiner Pommerin, a German historian, to musicologist Dr. Katherine
Syer's "Staging Der Ring des Nibelungen."
are world-class scholars, and having them involved in the conference
creates a level of seriousness in the educational aspect of the
project," said Dr. Jay Dean, director of the Symphony Orchestra
at Southern Miss. "I met Dr. Pommerin in Dresden last year,
and since this event is connected with the Dresden exhibition in
Jackson, it made perfect sense to involve an expert from where Wagner
spent a great deal of his career."
to lecturers Pommerin and Syer, Dr. William Kinderman, professor
and chair of the musicology division at the University of Illinois
and Dr. Robert Bailey, professor of musicology at New York University,
will give lectures on Wagner and his music.
Hauer, professor of English, assisted us in securing Bailey, who,
in turn, recommended Dr. Kinderman and his wife Dr. Syer, both Wagnerian
are Heldentenor Douglas Biggs, dramatic bass Herbert Echkoff, and
dramatic soprano Sheila Smith. Biggs is a nationally renowned operatic
tenor, having performed with companies from Durham, N.C., to Anchorage,
is a German voice classification that means "hero" tenor.
This singer specializes in singing heavy tenor roles with a striking
and/or dramatic quality.
music demands a robust style of singing by performers with great
stamina and volume -an ability that all three of our guest performers
possess," Kyle explained. "If you are a true Wagnerian
singer, you can sing forever and over any orchestra in the world.
It's like being the lead trumpet player in a big band."
distinguished American bass-baritone, is well known to international
opera, symphony and oratorio audiences. He made his Metropolitan
Opera debut in La Traviata in 1997. He holds degrees in vocal performance
as well as German language and literature from the University of
critics alike have hailed Smith as one of the great singing actresses
of the day. Praised in equal measure for her luminous vocalism and
her riveting acting, she has appeared at the leading opera houses
in America and Europe.
free and open to the public for all lectures and master classes,
made possible by assistance from the Mississippi Humanities Council.
The conference is also being presented in conjunction with the Glory
of Baroque Dresden international exhibition in Jackson.
to the April 22 or 24 concerts, call the Southern Miss Ticket Office
at (601) 266-5418 or (800) 844-8425 or order online at www.usm.edu/tickets.
For more information about the conference, visit www.usm.edu/arts
or contact Kyle at (601) 266-6059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.