A program from 1913, courtesy of Joan Matabosch.
Wagner's two-hundredth birthday arrives on Wednesday, and most of the world's major music cities will mark the occasion in some way. In Leipzig, Wagner's birthplace, there will be a celebratory concert, a staging of Götterdämmerung, and an afternoon coffee party; in Venice, where he died, La Fenice has a day of music and lectures. In London, as part of Wagner 200, the Philharmonia will give a special concert at Royal Festival Hall, with Andrew Davis conducting and Susan Bullock singing. In Berlin, you can see The Flying Dutchman; in Milan and Vienna, Götterdämmerung; in Hamburg and Copenhagen, Tannhäuser; in Santiago, Parsifal. The numerous Wagnerians of Barcelona may assemble at L'Auditori. Dresden will have a flurry of events next week, including a Thielemann / Jonas Kaufmann affair on May 21. In Paris, you can attend Götterdämmerung on the same night, and sing happy birthday to the old wizard at midnight. And Thielemann will conduct at the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth on the birthday itself, with a no doubt wild street party to follow.
Curiously, though, almost nothing is happening here in New York. Igor Stravinsky, a professed Wagner-hater, would have been delighted to know that Lincoln Center will be presenting, on the day of the bicentennial, a Bard College concert entitled Stravinsky and His World. Juilliard is holding an Elliott Carter memorial, which makes me think that when Carter was born Wagner had been dead for only twenty-five years. The only live Wagner event I can find is a vocal recital at the German Consulate, sponsored by the Wagner Society of New York; it is sold out. Also, WKCR, the Columbia radio station, is hosting a Wagner marathon, beginning at midnight on the 22nd. But the most Wagnerian thing you could do in the city next Wednesday, aside from listening to the confused Parsifal bells at Riverside, would be to recall Wagner's famous slogan "Kinder! macht Neues!" ("Children, make something new") and go see the Missy Mazzoli concert at (Le) Poisson Rouge. I will be spending most of the day on Amtrak — so it goes.
Update: I asked on Twitter whether any American orchestra or opera house was performing Wagner on the day of the anniversary, and so far not much has come up. The closest is the Dallas Symphony, which played an all-Wagner program this weekend. The Boston Wagner Society is presenting a concert at Old South Church; the Seattle Opera is holding a Sing Along; and the New Century Chamber Orchestra will play Siegfried Idyll in San Francisco on May 23. This is not in the nature of a lament; anniversaries are generally overdone, and Wagner gets enough attention. Still, it's curious.
See also: The Ring in 2013.