Performance TitleWagner Festival First Concert - 'Rienzi' - 'Tannhauser' - 'Das Rheingold'
Performance Date7 May 1877
Performance DayMonday
Performance Time20:00
Main PerformersAmalie Friedrich-Materna,
Babette Waibel,
Elisabeth Exter,
Friederike von Sadler-Grun,
Georg Unger,
Karl Hill,
Herr Chandon,
Max Schlosser - vocals
Secondary PerformersWilhelmj
Orchestra or BandWagner Festival Orchestra
ChoirsBayreuth Festival Vocalists
ConductorsRichard Wagner,
Hans Richter,
Set List'Kaisermarsch' (Wagner Festival Orchestra),
'Rienzi's Prayer' (Georg Unger, Wagner Festival Orchestra)
'March of the Messengers of Peace' (Wagner Festival Orchestra),
'Rienzi's Address to the Conspirators' (Georg Unger, Wagner Festival Orchestra),
Tannhauser: Excerpts from Act II
'Introduction and entrance of Elizabeth' (Amalie Friedrich-Materna, Wagner Festival Orchestra),
'Elizabeth,Wolfram and Tannhauser' (Amalie Friedrich-Materna, Carl Hill, Georg Unger, Wagner Festival Orchestra),
'Landgraf' (Herr Chandon, Wagner Festival Orchestra)
'Reception of the Guests at Wartburg'
Das Rheingold:
'Prelude and Scene in the depths of the Rhine' (Friederike Grun, Frl.Waibel, Frl.Exter, Carl Hill, Herr Chandon, Wagner Festival Orchestra),
Fragment: Loge's tidings (Max Schlosser, Wagner Festival Orchestra),
'Grand closing scene' (Frau.Friederike Grun, Frl.Waibel, Frl.Exter, Carl Hill, Max Schlosser, Herr Chandon, Wagner Festival Orchestra)
Royal PresenceHRH The Duchess of Edinburgh,
HSH The Duchess of Teck,
HRH The Prince Leopold,
HSH The Duke of Teck,
Count Gleichen
Performance NotesThis series of eight concerts was originally scheduled to comprise of just six, but two subsequent 'Farewell Concerts' were later added to the booking at the approval of the Hall's Council. The initial six concerts, to be held between 7-19 May, were arranged via Mr Hodge and Mr Essex, the London agents for Richard Wagner, at a rent of £500. The Hall's Manager subsequently let the Hall for two additional concerts at a rent of £45 and £50. The Hall's Council minutes record that, '...the concerts had proved a financial success to the promoters and artistes.'

Wilhelmj was the concert master and Richter and Dannreuther were the rehearsal conductors. Soloists were from the Bayreuth Festival and included Frau Materna, Frau von Sadler-Grün, Fraulein Babette Waibel, Fraulein Elisabeth Exter, Herr Unger, Herr Hill, Herr Chandon and Herr Schlosser. It was intended that Wagner should conduct selections from his operas during the first half of each concert, with Richter taking over after the interval, however Wagner was intimidated by the size of the Hall and found himself unable to manage during the rehearsal. In the event Wagner actually only conducted the first item of each programme. After that he handed his baton over to Richter and sat in a large arm chair on the corner of the stage for the rest of each concert. The public were not impressed and it was necessary to add two further concerts at reduced prices, with artists and orchestra accepting half salaries in order for this Wagner Festival not to be a complete financial disaster.

George Bernard Shaw reported that the Wagner conducted a vast and clumsy orchestra of about 170 players with the air of a man, “who hoped he might never be condemned to listen to such a performance again”.

"Herr Richard Wagner had little reason to be otherwise than satisfied with the welcome accorded to him on Monday night in the Royal Albert Hall, when the first of his projected series of concerts was given. A very large audience greeted him with a cordiality not to be mistaken. Everybody, in fact, was glad to see the man about whom all musical Europe has been talking, and who, by talking on his own account has incited all musical Europe to talk for more than a quarter of a century." (The Times, 8 May 1877)
Related Archival MaterialProgramme (RAHE/1/1877/2)
RAHE/1/1877/2Wagner Festival (First six nights)7-19 May 1877
Ref NoTitleNo of Performances
OokabidorivonWagner Festival 18778
CodeName of Performer(s)
DS/UK/182Wagner; Richard (22 May 1813-13 February 1883); German composer, conductor, theatre director and polemicist primarily known for his operas
DS/UK/7321Materna; Amalie (1844-1918); Austrian operatic soprano
DS/UK/7323Grun; Friederike (1836-1917); German operatic soprano
DS/UK/7325Hill; Karl (1831-1893); German bass-ritone
DS/UK/7326Schlosser; Max Karl (1835-1916); German opera singer
DS/UK/6842Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (later Duchess of Edinburgh and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; Maria Alexandrovna (1853-1920); Russian royal family member, wife of Prince Alfred
DS/UK/5457Princess Mary Adelaide Wilhelmina Elizabeth (1833-1897); Duchess Of Teck; British royal family member
DS/UK/6200Prince Leopold; Leopold George Duncan Albert (1853-1884); British royal family member
DS/UK/7327Unger; Georg (1837-1887); German tenor
DS/UK/6993Dannreuther; Edward (1844-1905); German Pianist,writer
DS/UK/7330Richter; Hans (1843-1916); Austrian-Hungarian conductor
DS/UK/7085Wilhelmj; August Emil Daniel Ferdinand (1845-1908); German violinist, teacher
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