Festival finale: what’s next for bayreuth??

Festival finale: what's next for bayreuth??

The bayreuth festival must address an important question for the future: who will lead the internationally renowned festival from 2015 onward?? This is how long the contracts of the bosses katharina wagner and eva wagner-pasquier last. While her father wolfgang wagner still had a lifetime contract, the daughter was only given an artistic director's contract in 2008 with the usual term of seven years.

The wagner half-sisters keep a low profile on this topic. Negotiations are to be held soon, katharina wagner said in an interview a few months ago. Further commitment depends on the terms of the contract.

The festival ends this wednesday. The leadership duo had reason to be satisfied: the new "ring des nibelungen directed by frank castorf has caused heated debates: there were enthusiastic reactions after the production – and there were angry protests after the premiere of the first cycle. The berlin volksbuhnen artistic director was certainly not a pure stroke of luck on the part of the sisters; there were too many blurry aspects to the production and too many critical voices as well. But castorf has a mammoth task ahead of him, for the 200th time. Richard wagner's "ring" on his 50th birthday to relaunch in bayreuth of all places, not capitulated.

The fact that kirill petrenko was celebrated as musical director of the tetralogy is not the fault of the intendants – the maestro from russia had already been steered to the grunen hugel by wolfgang wagner.

"Tannhauser" did not go down well
So what can sisters in the balance when it comes to contract renewals? The "tannhauser"-production, with which the festival will begin next year, still does not meet with a rough reception. At least the unschonen occupation problems from the premiere season 2011 are solved. "Lohengrin" with klaus florian vogt and annette dasch, on the other hand, has long been a perennial favorite. "The flying hollander splashes along like this.

The children's opera, introduced when the bosses took over, is still a success. However, the people of bayreuth had to say goodbye again to public viewing. Main sponsor siemens bails out; the free broadcast of a wagner opera on a big screen at the volksfestplatz can no longer be financed.

Instead, wagner is shown in cinemas all over germany. The festival had trouble with the court of auditors over the allocation of tickets; the dilapidated festival hall is facing a multi-million euro refurbishment. Plans for a new rehearsal stage quickly ended up in the drawer again. That for wagner's 200th birthday. Birthday party held on 22. May turned out strangely emotionless. Not everything runs smoothly in the festival gears.

Shareholders seek alliance
It is striking, however, that the shareholders of the festspiel-gmbh are seeking to join forces: for example, bavarian art minister wolfgang heubisch (FDP) attended the festspiele's opening press conference to assure the audience that the state would continue to support the festival.

Also the powerful maces of the society of the friends of bayreuth seem – after initial dissonances – to have come to terms with the hugel bosses. "You have to get used to each other, we have managed that quite well. We are in intensive exchange with the festival management", assured the chairman georg von waldenfels. He hopes that a decision on the future management can be made this year. Other shareholders are the federal government and the city of bayreuth.

The question remains: who else will be available?? Cousin nike wagner, who had submitted a bid for the festival directorship as recently as 2008, will start as intendant of the bonn beethovenfest in 2014. Conductor christian thielemann is musical advisor to the festival and could hardly have any ambitions to swap his place in the orchestra pit for a desk post.

It is conceivable that eva wagner-pasquier, who is now 68 years old, will retire and leave the field completely to her 35-year-old half-sister. Whatever the decision – katharina wagner will continue to be present at the grunen hugel beyond 2015. In two years, she will stage "tristan und isolde new.