Monday, August 25, 2008

The Bayreuth Succession

It appears (see here) that there has been a last-minute application for the leadership of the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth by Richard Wagner's great-grandaughter, Nike Wagner (daughter of Wieland Wagner, a dramaturg, author, and successful director of the Wiemar festival, Pèlerinages) together with Gérard Mortier (presently completing his term at the Opéra National de Paris, set to begin in 2009 at the Metropolitan New York City Opera and well-known for his time as director of the Salzburg Festival). Nike Wagner has also indicated that in the case of a successful application, she intends to reach out to her cousin, the manager and director Eva Wagner-Pasquier (daughter of Wolfgang Wagner, the departing Festival director, who co-directed the Festspiel with brother Wieland Wagner until his Wieland Wagner's death in 1966).

The new application is a response to the application of Eva Wagner-Pasquier with her half sister Katharina Wagner (who has begun a career in opera stage direction) earlier this year. That application was something of a surprise, as it required a rather sudden reconciliation between the semi-siblings who had previously been divided both personally and professionally, as members of "opposing teams" in the succession question. Eva Wagner-Pasquier had previously applied together with Nike Wagner, and Katharina, who had initially been viewed as a stand-in for her mother (who passed away suddenly in December), had made a serious application together with the conductor Christian Thielemann, a specialist in late German romantic repertoire.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is on a real roll with their Bayreuth reporting. It had a hard-hitting article on Sunday which focused on the financial aspects, and was especially critical of the position of Katharina Wagner, who has a 30 percent share of a private commericial entity which had rights to certain income associated with Festival "products", yet does not contribute to the financing of a festival which receives a large state-subsidy and is regularly bailed out by the Society of the Friends of Bayreuth. The lack of transparency over ticket distribution (an interesting topic which could fill another post) and the price structure of the tickets received criticism as well; given the receipt of state subsidies, these are non-trivial questions.


Anonymous said...

What does this mean for the Paris Hilton application? Hilton is every bit as blond as Katharina Wagner and in her youtube application video, proved that she was more articulate and thoughtful in her suggestions for ticketing policy and programming reform than any of her competitors.

PWS said...

I'm all for the Paris Hilton nomination. Not only does she come from a dysfunctional dynasty but unlike the Wagners, her family is actually wealthy enough to keep all those pesky politicians and Friends of Bayreuth from messing around with her opera house. I'm ordering me some Hilton/Bayreuth/08 bumper stickers right now.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Mortier is set to being at NewYork City Opera next year, not the Met.

Daniel Wolf said...

Lisa --

thanks, corrected.