By Barrymore Laurence Scherer [WSJ, 5 August 2009]
The Bard Music Festival in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., which begins its 20th season in mid-August, no longer needs an introduction. Under the provocative guidance of the conductor-scholar Leon ≠Botstein, it has long been one of the most intellectually stimulating of all American summer festivals and frequently is one of the most musically satisfying. Each year, through discussions by major scholars and illustrative concerts often programmed to overflowing, Bard audiences have investigated the oeuvre of a major composer in the context of the society, politics, literature, art and music of his times. This year, Bard will turn its ≠attention to Richard Wagner, whose towering music dramas are among the most influential and popular works in the operatic literature.