Tempers are flaring among the British Wagnerites as the vote approaches to depose Dame Gwyneth Jones as president.
Dame Gwyneth has been invited to present her case on Friday in Edinburgh to the Wagner Society of Scotland. If she is deposed by the London clique, secession could be on the cards, a breakup of the Wagner union.
A former chair of the London Wagner Society, Jeremy Rowe, has written today to Slipped Disc, attacking the leaders of the putsch:
I am appalled at this treatment of Dame Gwyneth. I note:
1. She is a world leader in terms of her portrayal of major Wagnerian roles, and she has an important and pivotal relationship with Bayreuth. She should be seen as a asset to the society.
2. The London Society is the only Wagner Society in the world to cancel the Wagner Bursary Competition, a competition founded by Richard Wagner himself over 100 years ago. Their reason is ostensibly that it’s a waste of money. Past winners include many major stars – the bursary gave them an early fillip to their career. Every winner I know of has always said it was an excellent experience – career changing for some. The current Wag Soc committee plan to spend the money giving local training to young singers – nothing wrong with that, but it should be in addition to the Bayreuth Bursary – not instead of. Cancelling the bursary eliminates the opportunity for young singers to be seen on a world platform.
3. Dame Gywneth found out she is being treated this way from colleagues at Bayreuth who wanted to know what’s going on. When confronted, she had no idea what the London committee were doing.
4. The committee are organising a vote of no confidence in themselves; but voters have to put their name on voting papers, and the votes will be received and counted by a member of the committee. Thus they’ll have a list of Dame Gwyneth supporters, ie, anyone voting against them. There will be no independent scrutiny of this voting process.
5. As a former chair and long-time member of the committee, I have received numerous messages of support for Dame Gwyneth, and messages of outrage about the committee. The manner of the vote means that many members say they are hesitant to vote against the committee as the committee will then have a record of their vote.