Bayreuth (dpa) – It has taken 145 years until this point: on Sunday, for the first time in the history of the Bayreuth Festival, a woman will stand at the conductor’s office.

“Because there were clearly not enough female conductors,” replies festival director Katharina Wagner when asked why it took so long. But now there is one: Oksana Lyniv, most recently conductor of the Graz Opera, is to deliver the historic opening moment of the festival with Wagner’s opera “Der Fliegende Holländer”.

It’s time

“100 years ago that would have been unthinkable, even if there were also female conductors at the time,” Lyniv said shortly after the news of her conduct was announced in an interview with the agency. German press last year. She received news and comments from all over the world – “even from Japan”. “That the echo now – as far as myself and these beginnings are concerned – will be so big, I never expected,” she said. But: “It’s really special that in 2021 there will be 145 years of the Bayreuth Festival, with 92 conductors to date and then for the first time a woman.”

She already has a decisive advantage over many male colleagues, as she said in an interview with “Deutsche Welle”: “I can see the stage well and I can lead standing up, so I’m just the right size. Because this trench coat is tailor-made for Richard Wagner. Wagner, the music giant, was only six feet tall and therefore significantly shorter than many male conductors today. Perhaps, she suspects, some of them are leading seated.

Exactly the size of Richard Wagner

Lyniv, 43, will be standing in the famous and notorious orchestra pit. “The fact that I can stand here as a woman in the office is maybe also a symbol of our time,” she said in an interview with DW. “Of course, I hope to give a positive example. It would not only be important for me personally, but also – to put it pathetically – for the world and for the future. “

Prior to her engagement in Graz, Lyniv was assistant to star conductor Kirill Petrenko at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. “Interestingly, it is almost symbolic to me that the first performance of Kirill Petrenko that I saw after receiving the promise from him to become his musical assistant at the Bavarian State Opera was” Die Walküre “in Bayreuth” said Lyniv of the dpa. “It was my very first visit to Bayreuth at the time.”

In the following years she was able to experience Petrenko conducting the four-part “Ring des Nibelungen” from the orchestra pit. In 2018, the invitation came from Bayreuth to lead there himself.

Mysterious composer

For the native Ukrainian, Richard Wagner is “of course a special composer”. In the former Soviet Union, however, his music had “an almost negative status” and “was unfortunately hardly played”. “The first thing I heard about Wagner during my college days was that one of the reasons he was performed so rarely was that his operas were so long and too complicated,” said Lyniv. “But that is precisely what prompted me to know this controversial and mysterious composer.”

You then dealt in detail with Wagner. “So I sat for days on the piano reductions of his library operas and listened to old recordings on vinyl records that could be borrowed and was totally absorbed in this music,” he said. she declared. “At the time, I couldn’t have believed that one day I would be able to conduct one of his plays on Green Hill myself. She has already performed the “Dutchman” once: in 2017 at the Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona.

The wrath of the youth

She has now prepared intensively for her new “Dutchman” and, as she said in the “DW” interview, was also in Meudon near Paris, where Wagner was working on her “Dutchman” in her youth. “Poor bitter, failed, disappointed with the failure of the Grand Opera,” said Lyniv. “And that youthful anger, that longing for the motto ‘I’ll show you everything’ – which you can hear from the first bar of ‘Holländers’. It was exactly the key for me. One cannot perceive and interpret this work from the position of the mature Wagner. “

Festival director Wagner is “excited to see how Ms Lyniv will master the difficult task here in the special orchestra pit in Bayreuth,” she said. Lyniv himself pointed out to “Deutsche Welle”: “Because I am a woman, the” Holländer “score is neither easier nor more difficult.”