Bayreuth (dpa) – The Grand Opera House in Bayreuth is also possible during a corona pandemic. The Richard Wagner Festival proved it impressively this year. After the forced break last summer, the festive atmosphere had returned to the city of Upper Franconia. The virus was not the center of attention on Green Hill, among other things, two new productions, appearances by two well-known conductors and some personalities provided topics for conversation. Wednesday is now the end in the Festspielhaus. It’s time to look back and look back.
Shortly before the end of this unusual corona season, festival management sums it up: “All tickets have been sold so far.” No wonder – tickets for the Richard Wagner Festival are in high demand and in 2021, instead of 2000, only around 900 Wagnerians were allowed into the Festspielhaus. The public gladly agreed to wear masks, to keep their distance and their corona tests.
Festival director Katharina Wagner (43), the composer’s great-granddaughter, is generally satisfied: “The extensive artistic offer, consisting of children’s opera and the 20.21 speech ring with the world premiere of “Rheingold – Immer noch Loge” by Hermann Nitsch The illustrated “Valkyrie”, Jay Scheib’s virtual dragon fight and Ms. Shiota’s installation received a lot of attention and received a broad and positive reception. She mentioned in particular the acclaimed new production ‘The Flying Dutchman’, the covers of ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’ and ‘Tannhäuser’ as well as the concert with conductor Christian Thielemann.
Two new productions provided material for controversial discussion among Wagnerians. While enthusiastic applause erupted after the premiere of the opera “The Flying Dutchman”, there were many boos for the “Valkyrie”. This latest opera was staged by Austrian action artist Hermann Nitsch, with lots of color. This “Valkyrie” was obviously a little too colorful for some of the Bayreuth audience. Even music director Pietari Inkinen and Wotan singer Tomasz Konieczny did not completely convince the audience. Maybe an incentive for the coming season.
In the “Holländer”, on the other hand, there was great joy, especially for the conductor Oksana Lyniv – the first woman to step onto the conductor’s podium in the 145-year history of the Bayreuth Festival. celebrated a successful debut. Likewise soprano Asmik Grigorian.
Return of two famous names
The performances of conductors Christian Thielemann and Andris Nelsons showed that the festival family stays together in difficult times (Corona). Thielemann was Music Director until early 2021, and it’s unclear what role he might take on in the future. Nelsons had put the festival in 2016 with a short-term cancellation into a mess. Now the two were back in the office: “Everything here is so dominated by Corona that we have deliberately postponed these decisions,” Thielemann said. “I thought it was fair to say: personal sensitivities are not important, we have to see that business picks up and the festival can end safely.”
The usual celebrity red carpet parade in front of the Festspielhaus has been canceled this year. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) did not miss the premiere and traveled to Bayreuth with her husband Joachim Sauer. Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) also came to the opera with his wife. In mid-August Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also reportedly wanted to visit the festival and see a “Thannhäuser” production. However, due to the escalating situation in Afghanistan, he canceled his visit. According to the city of Bayreuth, Joachim Gauck was the last federal president in office in 2013.
The 2022 season will be dominated by the mammoth work in four parts “The Ring of the Nibelung”. Director Valentin Schwarz’s new production should have hit the stage in 2020, but could not be made due to Corona’s circumstances. The new date is 2022 and there is already a first line-up: Günther Groissböck, who was planned as Wotan in “Walküre” and “Rheingold” and as Wanderer in “Siegfried”, canceled short term in July. In the meantime, Katharina Wagner was able to announce a partial replacement: John Lundgren takes over for two of the three roles. The Wotan in the “Rheingold” was always open. In any case, the controversial new production of “Walküre” gave a taste of the “Ring” and the festival year 2022 this year.