Waltraud Meier, One Of The Greatest Wagner Sopranos Of All time

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An article about Waltraud Meier and her tremendous interpretations of Wagner’s works.

I, for the most part have always been a great fan of Wagner and his operas which naturally include his music along with his librettos. Wagner being one of the few composers to not only write the music to his operas but the words to them as well. This perhaps being the reason why Wagner only completed 13 operas out of which 10 are played on a regular basis. Of course perhaps Wagner’s operas being very long might also have something to do with this yet regardless of reason, Wagner did not write nearly as many operas as some other composers yet in contrast to many; his operas are still played while those of many have been forgotten.

I, for what concerned me had basically limited myself to hearing only Wagner’s arias and mostly highlights from his most popular works such as “Tristan And Isolde”, “The Ring”, “The Flying Dutchman” amongst others. It being my believe that a whole Wagner opera might be a bit much to listen to in one go due to their length and the complicated structures of Wagner’s music which would have made them difficult for me to appreciate in their entirety. This prompting me to buy CDs which limited themselves to providing highlights of Wagner’s work which helped me to become familiar with his most popular pieces such as “Ride Of The Walkyries” among others which indeed did not exclude his overtures.

It was not till 1996 that I took a greater fascination for Wagner’s operas which went beyond a mere interest in fragments of his work and to whole operas. It being in 1996 that my focus on opera became more intense or at least to the point that I started buying whole operas on VCR. My first complete opera on VCR in fact being Wagner’s masterpiece “Tristan And Isolde”. The passion in this opera being something which I had always found overwhelming yet it was but a preparation for what I was to see on video for myself. To see Tristan and Isolde as they expressed so much that went above the mere love of a man and woman to include their fears of how they adored to a point of being willing to sacrifice all. This so they might be together even if it would never be as they wished it to be; was something incredible. The images in this video allowing me to see for the first time the energy of both the music as well as the characters as they in sense became those who were part of Wagner’s opera.

The image of Isolde in the first act was my first visual impression of Wagner’s grand work. It being in this first act that I first saw the furry of Isolde as she explains to her lady in waiting how she felt cheated and even used by Tristan; whom she had fallen love with and believed him to have done likewise yet it was with cold calculating emotions that he simply passed her on to his uncle. Isolde being indignant yet as the woman of strength she was held her dignity with fierce emotions as did the woman who portrayed her in this opera. Waltraud Meier being the soprano who put so much in to this role as to make me of the idea that Wagner had had somebody in mind like her when he created the role. Naturally, I was aware that the story of Tristan and Isolde had come from Celtic mythology yet there just seemed something which told me that Meier had been what Wagner had in mind for this particular role.

Waltraud Meier, not only looked the part with her crimson hair which seemed to catch the Irish character of Isolde but seemed to have that beauty about her in all her features which lent themselves so well to the part. As if she in some way were Isolde. It going without saying that all of this included both her acting as well as voice which given the dramatic role she was playing needed to be powerful as well as that of a soprano. As for Meier, I would find out later as I become more fascinated with her performance that she was a German soprano who also took roles as a mezzo-soprano in other Wagner operas.

As for a personal matter, it was not so much that I found her attractive physically but that her look did lent itself so perfectly to capturing the beauty of the characters she portrayed. I later would go on to see her as Venus in Tannhauser. Meier’s voice holding all the passion of those characters in Wagner’s piece as to bring out something new to me who despite having listened to Wagner for sometime had yet to hear it like this. I must admit that Meier was the first soprano I ever became a fan of. As there was something about her personality along with voice which I looked forward to when playing that particular video of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. Meier being the one my mind associated with when I thought of Isolde along with other Wagnerian characters. Sieglinde from the opera “Die Walkure” being another one of them, as she seemed to transform herself in to these characters much like Gheorghiu manages to do the same with Violetta from La Traviata.

In conclusion, I would say that Meier is my favorite Wagnerian singer for not only her looks which are a delicate beauty of tenderness and passion to create desire but also her voice which is as if made by her Germanic nature for Wagner. I also hope to one day be able to see Meier life on stage as Brunhilde perhaps in Bayreuth performing alongside Siegfried Jerusalem or even Placido Domingo. All of which creating a dream setting of “The Ring” as I with fantasy of adoration become part of the family which is the Bayreuth festival. It now being Katharina Wagner, (great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner) and her sister Ewa, who have taken over as artistic directors at Bayreuth. This after the death of their father Wolfgang Wagner.

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