Cast and crew of more than 200 prepare to stage epic Wagner operas at Norwich Theatre Royal

Theater Freiburg's production of Tannhäuser is at Norwich Theatre Royal this week. Photo: Maurice Korbel. Theater Freiburg's production of Tannhäuser is at Norwich Theatre Royal this week. Photo: Maurice Korbel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
8:29 PM

The great music of German composer Richard Wagner is to fill Norwich’s Theatre Royal in two epic productions that are among the biggest to have been performed on the city stage.

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The Theater Freiburg children's choir, with their leader, Thomas Schmieger, warm up before rehearsals for the Wagner Festival. Picture: Denise BradleyThe Theater Freiburg children's choir, with their leader, Thomas Schmieger, warm up before rehearsals for the Wagner Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley

Theater Freiburg has brought a company of more than 200 cast and crew – including a 50-strong children’s choir – from southern Germany to present the Wagner productions.

The project has been more than two years in the planning, and tomorrow the curtain goes up on the first performance, Parsifal, a five-hour epic story of a fool who becomes the saviour of the world.

The second production, Tannhäuser, which will be first performed on Sunday, is described as a heart-rending story of love, passion and spirituality.

The last time a large-scale Wagner production was performed at the Theatre Royal was in 1997, the Norwegian National Opera’s version of the Ring Cycle.

Theater Freiburg's production of Parsifal is at Norwich Theatre Royal this week. Photo: Maurice Korbel.Theater Freiburg's production of Parsifal is at Norwich Theatre Royal this week. Photo: Maurice Korbel.

Jane Walsh, executive producer at the Theatre Royal, said the theatre felt “very privileged” to welcome Theater Freiburg. She added: “There are a lot of people who travel all over the world to see Wagner productions. [In the UK] it is very unusual to have productions outside of London and even rarer to have a German opera company performing Wagner, so we feel very privileged.

“We are delighted that after all of these years we have been able to bring back Wagner to the Theatre Royal. It is all part of that mix of performances we like to offer.”

Dominica Volkert, chief of the opera department at Theater Freiburg, said: “It is an honour to be here to present German opera abroad.

“We hope we can give the audiences a good example of how Wagner is played in Germany now, how we are thinking about these quite old but important pieces from the middle of the 19th century until the end of the 19th century. Wagner was such an important composer in the second half of the 19th century and led us to the opera of the 20th century.”

Comment – Page 28

Parsifal is on tomorrow and Friday at 5pm. Tannhäuser is on Sunday at 3pm and Monday at 5pm. All performances in German with English subtitles. See www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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