Tuesday, July 17, 2007

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."


At 1:17 PM, Blogger A.C. Douglas said...

See my response in the update to this post.


At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Karl Henning said...

She has shot her mouth off too many times and has probably made too many enemies.

How quintessentially wagnerian!


At 1:14 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

To get the hat trick, though, she'd have to start sleeping with major donors or their husbands.

At 3:10 AM, Blogger Henry Holland said...

Re: PJS's comment at 1:14: Hahahahahaha.

From your list:

Der Ring des Nibelungen, Sir Peter Hall, 1983

Maybe my pot addled brain is playing tricks with me --very possible-- but wasn't Mr. Hall's production pretty traditional, by post-1976 standards? I seem to remember a huge pool with mirrors that reflected the Rhinemaidens and lots of trees, not a given in these days of "three white walls and a lot of chairs strewn about".

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Well, Hall's production was mediocre before it was anything else - good, bad, or Regietheater. Having the aircheck tapes from that cycle, the only good thing about it was Solti's contribution.

It wasn't as bad as things would become, or were at the 1976 premiere, but it was neither traditional nor exactly in the Wieland Neu Bayreuth mold.

Weird, I think, is the word I want.

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