Monday, 1 September 2008

Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier to lead the Bayreuth Festival

As expected, the Stiftungsrat ealier today elected Wolfgang Wagner´s two daughters Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier to succeed him as leader of the Bayreuth Festival.

The opponents were their cousin (Wieland Wagner´s daughter) Nike Wagner teaming up with previous Salzburg Festival, current Bastille Opera and future NYC Opera manager Gerard Mortier.

It may now be speculated whether these two will be able to lift the quality of performances in Bayreuth, something which is urgently needed. Apparently they work closely together with Christian Thielemann, which is fine as long as his influence is strictly limited to conducting the orchestra..

Eva Wagner-Pasquier is repeatedly mentioned as a very experienced operatic manager - which is true enough, but she has only been functioning on a medium management level, working as artistical advisor for those in charge. Nothing in her past work indicates she has the visions to lift the Bayreuth Festival.
The same applies for Katharina, which obviously may be attributed to her young age. Furthermore, I´d question the tactical judgement of anyone who uses Bild (Germany´s answer to The Sun) as their preferred medium for press releases.

In summary, Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Katharina represent a rather traditional choice. I´d narrowly prefer Gerard Mortier, but Nike Wagner repeatedly has demonstrated a rather well-developed talent for empty provocations and nothing much else, apart from writing an entirely useless book on her grandfather´s works. Neither are dream-teams on paper. However, we will see..
Personally I am only interested in one thing regarding the Bayreuth Festival: The musical and artistical quality. How to restore that to the highest level, is the ultimate challenge for the new management. It is in my opinion not acceptable, that vastly better Wagner performances may be seen in Berlin (State Opera). Or at the Metropolitan Opera. Or in Vienna etc. etc.

The first indication of the future will be the planning of the 2013 Ring - conductor and director, which should be released sometimes next year (if not officially, then unofficially), if previous patterns are to be followed...

This is part 20 of the Wagnerian docu-soap "The Bayreuth Succession". Previous parts may be read here, and for new readers the background of this unique Wagnerian docu-soap is written up here.

4 comments:

Carlos said...

I am glad with the result. In my opinion it would have been a spectacular disaster to let the direction of the Bayreuther Festspiele in Nike's hands and colleagues. Let us see how they will run the Festival the years to come, but to have Thielemann involved it is a big bonus.

For the new 2013 Ring production, it is almost sure that René Pape will be Wotan. I have to be there!

NV said...

You 'd narrowly prefer Gerard Mortier ? You would think otherwise if you were french...

daland said...

Yesterday’s decision was the only practical one to take, all in all.

Two circumstances have led to the present outcome: the sudden departure of Gudrun Wagner, who had surely planned with Wolfgang to keep the previous status-quo (Wolfgang formally, and she behind-the-scene as the Festival’s manager) waiting for Kathi to gain ground for getting the post alone, perhaps in the eve of 2013; the second milestone was Eva’s decision to flank her much hated halfsister and father instead of joining forces with Nike, as it seemed likely few months ago.

Nike-Mortier had no chances to win, with Thielemann, Merkel and Springer in the opponent’s field.

Nor had the Stiftungsrat any chance to make a historical decision of ousting the Wagner family from Wahnfried.

mostly opera... said...

nv - Yes, that´s what all the French say....

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