Bayreuth Festival 2022
Katharina Wagner wants to know now
07.06.2022 by Volkmar Fischer
Great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner, daughter of Wolfgang Wagner: Katharina Wagner followed in great strides. She’s been in charge of the Bayreuth Festival since 2009 – and this year she’s introducing a range of new products.
Image source: Enrico Norráth
What was Wolfgang Wagner thinking when it came to an end? What else did he dream about in his last hours? Because we don’t know, we have to guess. And dare you claim: What the old man did not dare to dream of was that his beloved daughter and successor would one day perform no less than eight of his grandfather’s mature labors in one summer festival. That’s 80% of all the business Bayreuth is worth. Wolfgang himself had put such a package together more than half a century ago (1970), but in addition to the new “Ring”, he only programmed the revival.
New 2022: “The Ring of the Nibelung” and “Tristan and Isolde”
This year everything is more exciting: because in addition to the “Ring” new productions “Rheingold”, “Valkyrie”, “Siegfried”, “Götterdämmerung” and the revival of “Holländer”, “Tannhäuser” and “Lohengrin” a new one “Tristan” as the opening show. That’s a total of 20 hours of reinterpreted musical theater! The accompanying program with concerts at the Festspielhaus, small events and large outdoor events on the edge of the hill is also particularly rich in 2022.
I think you must have a passion for this job. It can’t just be a family commitment.
Katharina Wagner dares – and wins? After all, she’s the head of a respected opera festival for decades anyway. When a new “Ring” comes out on Green Hill, all four pieces will be released within six days with ease. Other opera houses give the director or conductor more time, and she is happy to publish a new production of the quartet over two seasons. In less than a week, the full course will be delivered to the public in Bayreuth. This time, according to Cloudy Hints, in the costume of a Netflix series! Two years ago, when “Ring” was supposed to premiere in Green Hill, conductor Pietari Inkinen and director Valentin Schwarz could have thrown less life experience into their scales than it does now. Now they are – together! – 75 years old. In the history of the festival, sometimes one of the responsible people in the management team brings it alone. Does Katharina Wagner prove her bravery or negligence here?
Veterans Helping Beginners
Even if the revival of old works was shown only in the years of the premiere of “Ring”, now there is another significant novelty. More is really not possible! The choice did not fall on the relatively short, non-stop “Dutch”, which was early last year: with the amazing duo Oksana Lenev as conductor of the first hole orchestra and with Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigoryan, who likes to explore existential issues, like Cinta! No, this year Tristan is supposed to be, of all things, a piece that was considered undoable for a few months about 150 years ago (not just anywhere, but at Vienna’s Mecca Opera). You just have to find a singer for the exact title roles first. And a leader who is both physically and mentally resilient. There is no outcome that has driven so many clubbing witches to their deaths like Tristan. This was also Katharina Wagner’s last Bayreuth production – that was in 2015, eight years after her debut on Green Hill with “Meistersinger” in 2007.
The conductors in Tristan are in mortal danger
Katharina Wagner relies on Stuttgart’s general music director Cornelius Meister – because of his name alone, who is possibly the man and will remain the position? In terms of singing, Katherine Foster and Stephen Gould are seasoned musicians who have grown in their duties over the years. Like Cornelius Meister, director Roland Schwab works under special local conditions for the first time. He already set up the blockbuster Lohengrin in the Salzburg Felsenreitschule and is now competing with Bayreuth’s latest production of “Tristan,” which was canceled in 2019. Who was this? Like I said: Katherine Wagner!
Is Roland Schwab like Barry Kosky?
Since Roland Schwab, according to his own declaration, does not consider the concept of disappointment in the director’s office like his predecessor, but rather focuses on the romantic potential of longing for the piece, even if it relates entirely to music, his vision of the work can be appreciated more than previous work, At least by the conservative part of the public the lady of the house. It will not be the first time. Because Katharina Wagner’s hostile “Meistersinger,” which she debuted 15 years ago on the hill, was also replaced by a working interpretation that was more famous: Australian Barry Kosky debuted in 2017 and made a coup.
Strong Women of Green Hill
Wolfgang Wagner’s 44-year-old daughter continues the tradition of the strong women of Green Hill (without composer Cosima’s widow, the Wagnerians’ Mecca probably didn’t exist in its familiar form). Katrina follows in her father’s footsteps. After 1951, as manager, he was overshadowed by his brother Welland. After his death, Wolfgang had the skill and size to attract brilliant minds like director Patrice Scheraud to the region of Upper Franconia. Even if the recommendation came from Pierre Boulez, conductor of the legendary band “Ring of the Century” (1976). Nowadays, Wagner’s granddaughter wants to move away from non-professional film directors, who often rejected her at the last minute. Conceiving operas, reviving opera characters, needs to be learned by the craftsman! And now we’re amazed: After her life-threatening illness, and around the same time, after the festival was canceled two years ago due to the pandemic, Katharina Wagner suddenly showed an extra dose of ambition. Anyway, conditionally and logistically. Who would have thought that possible? Explore the boundaries in the blood of this family. Even the great Richard loved to outdo himself.