One of the two great operatic bicentenarians has been rather neglected by this summer’s BBC Promenade concerts, which features only bits and pieces of Verdi—the tenor Joseph Calleja sings a dozen favorites on September 5. But Wagner has been done more than proud. There have already been performances of Tannhäuser and Tristan und Isolde, and above all a Ring cycle with Daniel Barenboim conducting the Berlin Staatskapelle, which held the audience spellbound for four nights in a stifling Albert Hall, and was showered with critical praise the enthusiasm and unanimity of which is rarely seen. These concert performances, by comparison with what by all accounts is an execrable new Ring at Bayreuth, might raise the question of whether opera directors—or even staged performances—are really necessary.
One more is to come, Parsifal on August 25 with Sir Mark Elder conducting his own Hallé Orchestra and a strong cast including Lars Cleveman in the title part, Katerina Dalayman as Kundry, and Robert Holl. Two other operas are given at the Proms, both conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Michael Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage (August 16), which seemed to herald a great opera-writing career when premiered in 1955, may now seem more a period piece, but is still full of beguiling music. And on August 27 Davis conducts the much-praised Glyndebourne Billy Budd with Jacques Imbrailo in the title part and Mark Padmore as Captain Vere.
For more information about the Proms, please visit bbc.co.uk/proms.