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Opera epic

PUBLISHED: 06:29 21 July 2014

Theater Freiburg present Tannhauser

Theater Freiburg present Tannhauser

MAURICE KORBEL

Thousands of opera fans will be flocking to Norwich this month to see two of Wagner’s epic works. With people coming from as far afield as Australia, the visit of the prestigious German company Theater Freiburg promises to be a major event in Norwich’s cultural calendar.

And one man who knows what a treat is in store for his home county is David Parry – the Wells based conductor who starred in the Diamond Jubilee Thames flotilla and who has worked closely with Theater Freiburg. His career has taken him all over the world, with highlights including world premieres at Glyndebourne and with Opera North.

He also conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra on board the final barge in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Pictures of the rain-soaked singers, standing on the roof of the boat belting Land of Hope and Glory across the river to Her Majesty became some of the most widely-seen images of the day.

Wagner’s operas, Parsifal and Tannhäuser, will be among the biggest-ever productions staged at the Norwich Theatre Royal, involving a company of 190 from the Theater Freiburg, plus its choir of 50 children with voices so beautiful they helped win the company a 15-minute standing ovation.

Parsifal, a five-hour extravaganza, tells the story of a fool who lives an isolated life before becoming the saviour of the world. Tannhaüser follows a young singer’s bid to win a competition – with love, passion and spirituality along the way over more than four hours.

Wagner fans from across Europe, as well as from the other side of the world, have already booked tickets. David Parry is also looking forward to being in the audience, after working with many of the musicians involved: “I think it will be a very interesting and exciting production. It’s not world stars but it’s people who work really well together. It will be total theatre and very high quality musically.”

As well as wielding the baton for world-class orchestras and opera companies, David has conducted in Norwich’s St Andrew’s Hall and the Theatre Royal, and at the Southrepps Festival, just a few miles from his home near North Walsham. He loves returning home to Norfolk and says: “I think north Norfolk is the nearest place that feels quite remote but is within reach of London.”

<blob>Parsifal will be performed on Wednesday, July 23 and Friday, July 25.

Tannhaüser will be performed on Sunday, July 27 and Monday, July 28. Both will be sung in German, with English surtitles. Tickets range from £6.50-£95.

There is a free general pre-performance talk, with information about both operas and composer Wagner, plus talks specific to each opera, also free but all talks must be pre-booked; www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk; 01603 630000.

<blob>David will be conducting the opening concert at the Southrepps Festival which runs from August 7 to 10; www.southrepps-classical-music-festival.org

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