Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More on the Festspiele succession

A.C. Douglas responds to my response to his 'blog entry about the grim prospects for the Bayreuther Festspiele post-Wolfgang.

He comments, à propos my assertion that Wolfgang Wagner is a Regietheater-sort,
The difference between Wolfgang Wagner and his three potential successors in that regard is that Herr Wagner is a "passionate ... supporter of Regietheater" only to the extent that he imagines it will be good for Festspiele business.
Fair enough: point taken. That is, depending on how you look at it, a decent (if slightly misguided) way of keeping the Festspiele solvent and well-attended, or a cynical trashing of some monuments of Western culture for business' sake. Depending on the production, my preferred gloss changes.
His three potential successors, however, are ideologically committed to Regietheater, and that means the end of any restraint on the content and look of that grotesque crap should any one of them become the Festspiele's next Festspielleiter.
Again - there is enough of a corpus of evidence to support that statement (not least the productions staged by the Wagners in question) that there is no sense arguing against it. Nike and Katharina seem to be the wackiest, but I am not terribly familiar with Eva's work. At this point, the three leading candidates (plus one that I'll discuss below) are all tarred with a brush that would make Patrice Chéreau look downright reactionary.

The one figure in this that neither Mr. Douglas nor your author have discussed (in this go-'round) is Gudrun Wagner, Wolfgang's second wife. If reports are correct, and Herr Wagner is not in the best of health, she will likely oversee the transition into the Katharina years (save a rebellion by the Bayreuth board, which would likely require the Friends of Bayreuth to revolt openly and firmly). I would predict that as Gudrun goes so goes Katharina and Bayreuth. We'll see, though. It would be a massive sea-change for the Bayreuth supervisory authorities to resist Wolfgang Wagner's wishes, though it wouldn't be unwelcome.

A brief gloss, too, on Katharina Wagner - I meant that she hasn't committed herself to some left-field things like Nike has (if I recall correctly, staging non-Bayreuth-canon Wagner works and the mentioned other composers' works). Nike's pretty well outlined the Festspiele under her administration, and she'd be hard-pressed to abandon that program. Katharina, artistically, is right behind her, though.


At 2:54 AM, Blogger Henry Holland said...

Re: your last 'graf.

I suppose I'm opposed to using the Festspielhaus for anything other than the usual Wagnerian operatic suspects --why don't they do Rienzi at least?!? It needs to be done note complete to accurately asses as all the available recordings (legal and otherwise) are heavily cut-- *during the Festival* but why don't they rent the theatre out to impresarios who can put on stuff during the down times? It's acoustics are legendary, wouldn't it be great to hear, say, Die Frau Ohne Schatten there?

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Die Frau would be incredible in the Festspielhaus, though I might argue that it's only one of a small number of pieces not by Richard Wagner that could benefit from the Green Hill. Coming to Bayreuth for the Festspiele is one thing, but I'm not sure that you'd want to go to Bayreuth to hear Die Frau. Munich has a whole lot more going for it.

Rienzi isn't done because Wagner, as I recall, backed away from it in a big way later in life.

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