Twilight of the Festival (?)
A.C. Douglas predicts doom and gloom for the Bayreuther Festspiele if one of the three Wagners likely to succeed Wolfgang Wagner does indeed succeed him. He notes,
And why do we forecast doom for Wagner's music-dramas at the Festspiele? All three of these candidates are avid, even rabid, advocates of Regietheater, a.k.a., Eurotrash. In addition, one of them, Nike, has even suggested that the Festspielhaus cease being an opera house that mounts Wagner's music-dramas exclusively, and would open the Festspielhaus to the presentation of operas by other composers.I might suggest that Nike, despite being Wieland's daughter, is probably not on the top of the list. She has shot her mouth off too many times and has probably made too many enemies. If I had to bet, it will be Katharina or no one. That's no better, but she hasn't had the time to commit herself to something stupid. (She is, after all, only eight years older than me.)
This is not, though, my issue with A.C. Douglas' comments. Not to be a jerk, but I think it's safe to say that Wolfgang Wagner is as passionate a supporter of Regietheater as any director of a major opera house. Indeed, given some of the productions he's mounted, he's probably more of a supporter than most. Let's look at a few of them, shall we:
Der Ring des Nibelungen, Patrice Chéreau, 1976
Der fliegende Holländer, Harry Kupfer, 1978
Der Ring des Nibelungen, Sir Peter Hall, 1983
Lohengrin, Werner Herzog, 1987
Der Ring des Nibelungen, Harry Kupfer, 1988
Parsifal, Christoph Schlingensief, 2004
The Bayreuther Festspiele isn't, in my opinion, doomed because of who will lead it next. It's doomed because Wolfgang has controlled for so long, and - during his tenure - he has allowed and encouraged Regietheater productions that are, often as not, below par by Regietheater standards. No, if this is the Festspieldämmerung, it took Wolfgang's work for the last thirty years to get us to that point. He did, in fact, such a good job that I am not sure if Richard Wagner himself could pull things out of the fire at this point.
But, as the man says, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."