Soon, Wagner soirees in the Gulf


Dresden (Germany) : Operas by German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) may become regular events in the Gulf, according to the secretary of the Abu Dhabi Wagner Society, Ronald Perlwitz.

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The Society is sponsoring a March 8 concert by the Saxon State Orchestra of Dresden in the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi to introduce Gulf audiences to live Wagner music.

Perlwitz believes Arab audiences’ special affinity for Wagner comes from the close bond between music and text in his works.

“His music is romantic, it involves a lot of feeling,” said Perlwitz. “This is something that appeals to the Arab soul.”

“Under our planning we would like to hold a festival every year,” he said. The focus would be on romantic music in general. “It wouldn’t always have to be Wagner.”

Prominent supporters of the society named by Perlwitz include a presidential adviser, Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, who is an aide to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates.

The Dresden orchestra, led by its Italian conductor Fabio Luisi, is to perform overtures and intermezzos from Rienzi and Tannhaeuser in March. Both operas premiered in 19th century Dresden, where the great Wagner once worked.

It was the Wagner Society that insisted on engaging the eastern German orchestra for the March concert.

Perlwitz says the Gulf Wagnerians have two aims.

“On the one hand, we would like to make the work of Wagner better known over here,” he said. “And on the other hand, we would like to support young performers through the work we are doing.”

Perlwitz is a language teacher at the Abu Dhabi campus of the Sorbonne University of Paris.

The March concert is to offer Abu Dhabi audiences a foretaste of what to expect when the emirate’s 270-hectare cultural district of Saadiyat Island opens. Construction of that site is set to begin in 2012.