Thursday, 8 November 2007

Part 13 (The Bayreuth Succession): Smoke screens...and Jürgen Flimm enters the stage

After the Board of Directors did not really address the issue of Wolfgang Wagners successor at their much anticipated meeting last Tuesday, German medias have been overflowed by various statements from and around the protagonists:

According to Jürgen Flimm, Wolfgang Wagner´s wife Gudrun is the real administrator of the Festival, since W Wagner has advanced Alzheimers according to a German music critic (quoted from Times Online)

Schmidt from the Friends of Bayreuth now states, that Wolfgang Wagner´s immediate retirement is not warranted and that his previous statements to that account are misquoted ( from Kurier)

Apparently Wolfgang Wagner has lawyers looking into the whole matter of his succession, since it has been claimed that he himself may actually have the power to appoint his own successor and that the Board of Directors has no legal authority in that matter (from Kurier)

And Jürgen Flimm (director of the 2000-Bayreuth Ring and intendant of the Salzburg Festival) is quite critical of the Festival Administration in an interview with DasErste (excerpts in my translation below):

"You are treated badly there [in Bayreuth] as a director" says Jürgen Flimm. "You sign the contract, and from there you will be treated badly. Anyone can confirm this."

"Wolfgang belongs to a totally different generation. A generation, used to ways of which we - and I am also not quite young myself [he is 66] - are not used. His is a generation of warlords and lieutenants. And he also belongs to a generation of people who got wonderfully along with the Nazis. "Uncle Wolf" was there - and gave them cameras as gifts. There are films by Wieland, made for "Uncle Wolf". This is a different way of thinking! Wieland and Wolfgang simply grew up in another atmosphere, with the awful Houston Stewart Chamberlain [husband of R. Wagner´s daughter Eva and friendly with Hitler. Died 1930] among others, and raised by Winifred, who was on excellent terms with Hitler. And they spent their formative years in an atmosphere like that".

"Schlingensief had his luck with the Parsifal [Flimm is definitely ironic here] only because Martin Kušej left. Kušej could not endure to deal with the Wagners and eventually got up and left. The same thing with Lars von Trier. He came to Bayreuth, presented his concept and then strangely vanished."

"Katharina will have problems with her mother," says Jürgen Flimm. "Gudrun Wagner is the strong woman on the hill and does not exactly have the best influence on the Festival-to put it mildly. Everybody knows this, and many who have worked there say that Gudrun at the moment is the main problem of the Festival. Wolfgang is old - that you can not blame him. Gudrun is leading the Festival. Can Katharina detach herself from this very strong woman?"
And he continues: "Eva is a major international opera manager who knows the theater business. She has, for example, been a representative of the New York Metropolitan Opera and is running things excellently at the Festival in Aix-en-Provence. Eva is a great musical theater manager!"

Indeed! Looks to me like Jürgen Flimm may consider teaming up with Eva Wagner-Pasquier. His comments on Wolfgang Wagner are pretty harsh for a Salzburg Festival intendant with no interest in the matter, other than enlightening the public, obviously......

It is very difficult to get an idea what is exactly going on right now..I have a clear feeling that smoke is being layed out and that things may not be what they seem...

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