Bayreuth (dpa) – There are directors who leave their directing behind to take the stage once the premiere is behind them. Tobias Kratzer is not one of them.

In the second year of production, the director of 2019’s famous Bayreuth “Tannhäuser” made very small adjustments to keep it looking as fresh as it does two years after the premiere.

To do so, when he resumes at the Richard Wagner Festival on the Green Hill, he targets corona measurements – and annoys Russian star conductor Valery Gergiev.

One of the clips shows the Bayreuth Gallery with portraits of conductors. There is a sign in front of Gergiev’s photo: “Come a little later”. Gergiev was the production’s conductor in the first year of 2019 – and at the time he was known not to always show up on time for rehearsals. He had “participated in all contractually agreed rehearsals,” festival director Katharina Wagner said at the time – but did not say how many there were. He was late twice, she admitted. In the 2019 solo, the focus was still on Christian Thielemann, the music director of the festival at the time.

In another recorded film, the Bulli with which Tannhäuser (Stephen Gould) and Venus (Ekaterina Gubanova – missed the 2019 premiere because she injured her knee during rehearsals) stops for all occupants to drive can be tested for the coronavirus. “Freshly tested (negative)” is then written on a sticker. In 2019, Sebastian Baumgartner’s production, known as Bayreuth “Biogas Plant Tannhäuser”, has fortunately been long forgotten.

Completely different from Corona: the Bayreuth Richard Wagner Festival takes place this year with a strict hygiene concept. Only half of the roughly 2,000 viewers, usually around, are admitted – and only if they have tested negative, recovered from Covid-19, or fully vaccinated. All employees, singers and directors should also be tested regularly. A fact that Kratzer does not want to be ignored on stage in 2021.

Kratzer’s staging is enthusiastic

In its second year, Kratzers is enthusiastically celebrated by Opernwelt 2020 as the production of the year, which received the award. A few hoots are roared with loud cries of bravo. Lots of applause also for the conductor Axel Kober, who is on the podium this year instead of Gergiev. Singer Lise Davidsen received the most applause for her clear and powerful portrayal of Elisabeth.

Kratzer’s version of “Singers’ War on the Wartburg” is pleasantly entertaining and entertaining, which is by no means easy. He is not interested in the traditional image of the woman and the classic contrast between the whore and the saint in the first operas of Richard Wagner, but takes the two opposing female figures as symbols of different conceptions of life and religion. art, for avant-garde and established art. It’s a humorous, clever and touching yet incredibly artistically coherent plea for a reconciliation between pop and high culture – and tolerance.

The production face had to be replaced

He has to make up for a drastic loss of production in the second year: he had to replace the British transvestite Le Gateau Chocolat and therefore, so to speak, the face of the production, as he was unable to come to rehearsals due of the corona entry regulations. In the recordings, which make up a large part of the production, he’s usually still visible – and not his replacement Kyle Patrick.

“But we made a very conscious decision, also as an aesthetic and almost political statement, not to fundamentally replace him in the videos, but to have him portrayed on stage by another artist and leave the videos behind,” said Kratzer at the “North Bavarian Courier”.

First black drag queen

Le Gateau Chocolat, who doesn’t want to read his real name in the media, made headlines two years ago as the first black drag queen in festival history and said he has yet to saw his work on the Green Hill. “If I want to come back, that’s another matter. That I have to come back: Yes, definitely! », Declared the Briton at the time of the German press agency. “My role is also to present a reality that has not been part of this house for a very long time.”

The parody artist, who lives in Brighton, UK, criticized audiences after the premiere for receiving a few boos. “What exactly are you booing?” Asked Le Gateau Chocolat. It didn’t display any skills, but “displayed nothing but a lifestyle.”

You will of course notice his absence, Kratzer told the “courier.” “But I don’t think you have to cover it either. It’s a special year with special conditions. And we try to be very open about it. “

The Bayreuth festival takes a break on Wednesday and continues Thursday (4 pm) with the “Walküre” – a concert-performance, accompanied by colorful action by Austrian Hermann Nitsch, who has become a “blood artist”.