Some biographical data on Klaus Billand
Klaus Billand at Vendramin Palace in Venice
In addition to opera reviews for Der Neue Merker Vienna and the OPERNFREUND in Germany, I write for OPERA in London; occasionally for CONCERTO in São Paulo, Brazil, as well as regularly for the Richard Wagner Societies in Turku, Finland (Wagneriaani), and Munich, Germany. Until their closure, I also wrote regularly for the Bayreuth Festival Magazine in Bayreuth and the previous edition of Orpheus Opera International in Berlin, Germany
I am interested in and committed to the Oeuvre of Richard Wagner in all forms of its presentation and reception, i.e. performances, interviews with artists, analyses, thematic topics, speeches and symposia, as well as books and CDs/DVDs.
My special interest lies on intercultural aspects of the Wagner reception in the international context. In this regard, I prepared and lead an international symposium on the occasion of the cyclical performance of Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelung” at the Amazonas Opera Festival (FAO) in Manaus 2005, with the title “Richard Wagner’s 'Ring of the Nibelung' as a Cultural Bridge between Europe and South America.” This was a cooperation between the FAO, Der Neue Merker and the Goethe-Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since 2011, I am member of the Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA) in the US.
I have nearly visited all new productions of the Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth since 1969. The first “Ring of the Nibelung” I saw there was Wolfgang Wagner’s production of 1971. It remained as one of the ideally and optically most impressive and consistent in my mind of more than 100 productions of the “Ring” seen so far, over 60 of them in complete cycles. However, my passion for the Oeuvre of Richard Wagner dates already from the opera season 1966/67 when I saw “Lohengrin” for the first time, at the opera house in Wuppertal, Germany. From that experience half a century lasting “Life with Wagner’s Music” developed. I wrote my first review 2001 about the “Ring” in Nuremberg directed by Stephen Lawless. Ever since, I have reviewed hundreds of opera performances at around 100 opera houses in Europe, the US, South America, Asia and Australia.
Following my apprenticeship in commercial banking in Wuppertal form 1971-73, I studied Political Economy in Göttingen, Germany, with emphasis on development theory and politics from 1973-79. This ended with a PhD in Economics in Göttingen with a thesis on “Regional Development from a Microeconomic Perspective with Special Reference to Rural Industrialization in Northeast Brazil” including field work in Brazil for a year and a half with a Latin America scholarship of the German Foundation Friedrich Ebert. In 1983, after a competitive recruitment examination, I joined the staff of the Secretariat of the Vienna based UN specialized agency UNIDO which promotes sustainable industrial development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Which city could have been more adequate for an opera lover?! Till June 2012, I was UN Reform Coordinator at UNIDO. During my 30 years career with the Organization, including a nearly eight years stay as UNIDO Country Director in Brazil and Argentina in the 1990s, I could complete my language competence in English, Portuguese, Spanish and French. Privately and in the framework of my work for the United Nations, I could visit over 130 countries to date.
Klaus Billand, May 2016