“The man had a certain claim”

What I promise, I must also keep. When a good week ago the austrian magazine news reported that katharina wagner wanted to remain festival director beyond the end of her contract in 2015, i announced an analysis of the interview, which i am forwarding herewith. To say it in advance: there is not much new in the article, which starts with the cliched quote "a japanese wanted a hair from my jacket" is titled. But some sentences and subordinate clauses deserve to be taken under the microscope.

The news journalists met the great-granddaughter of wagner in a viennese cafe in december, between other of her appointments in one and a half hour intervals: "with costumwerkstatten is to negotiate", write heinz sichrovsky and susanne zobl in the second paragraph of their portrait "and to talk with the renowned austrian conductor roberto paternostro about ‘quite a lot of interesting things."

What surprised me immediately are the negotiations with costume shops. Have not the bayreuth festival so far always produced the costumes in its own department responsible for this rough? Is this due to the collective bargaining changes at the festspielhaus or are these effects of the festival management’s failed programming, which are far, very far behind the times? According to katharina’s own statements, her parents, gudrun and wolfgang wagner, who have since died, had originally intended to entrust her, their only daughter, with the staging of the anniversary "ring 2013 to entrust.

When the plan was dropped is not known. Probably not until after the resumption of their "meistersinger" performances-the 2007 staging may have shown that this could be risky with the core paying audience, after other "ring"-directors wanted. The fact that the renowned film director wim wenders, who had been chosen to direct the film, did not come to fruition is said to have been due to the film version he had planned, which in turn clashed with the plans of BF medien gmbh, a subsidiary of the bayreuth festival run by katharina.

Wender’s cancellation in spring 2011 was inevitably followed by speculation. In july 2011 – two years before the premiere – katharina first confirmed negotiations with berlin’s volksbuhnen boss frank castorf, at whose anniversary "ring" now all the world is tense. It should be "a journey to the gold of our days" on earth fields between texas and russia – and on berlin’s alexanderplatz as a revolving stage between east and west.

Why I am telling this in such detail? Because it throws a significant light on the question of how long and with what consequences the bayreuth festival plans in advance. When asked about her own contract extension as festival director in 2015, the news article now says: "she thought it made sense to stay longer". We have planned everything up to 2020, and one wants to experience what one has planned, after all.’"

As a new production in 2020 would be a "ring" again in the series. Who is going to direct the play is anyone’s guess. My money is on katharina wagner, on a contract that has already been signed – and on concept recycling. Finally, the thoughts that your dramaturg has about the halved "ring" are supposed to be at the teatro colon in buenos aires was not made in vain. This also explains why her last-minute withdrawal from the project, which had been heralded as a sensation, went smoothly, at least in the eyes of the audience.

Despite the furor she may have caused by presumably suddenly bringing conductor roberto paternostro into the picture. The fact that she has a lot to talk about with him is not surprising. The conductor has been head of the israel chamber orchestra since 2010, and although he has not yet made festival history directly, he has already done so indirectly. In the festival summer of 2011, he performed a concert in bayreuth with his orchestra at the invitation of the city, whose program included wagner’s "siegfried idyll" stand. There were ovations, a predominantly positive international media echo – and rejection in israel, where wagner is still taboo for good reasons.

Katharina acted as patron of the concert, who must have realized that the israel chamber orchestra would be a good stepping stone to counter the tiresome discussion about wagner’s anti-semitism and the reactionary and deeply brown festival past. "Yes, had she been able to get hold of the urahnen personally", it says in the news article "so she had read him the riot act because of ‘certain writings."

"The man had", she also talks about richard wagner in another context "a certain claim, in my unquestionable opinion." Which she also has, but for other reasons and on a completely different level. She then uses the interview to make her cousin nike, who is the artistic director of the weimar art festival, look like an unserios and answers the question of whether the festival should remain in family hands forever as follows: "as long as someone from the family is empowered, it should remain in family hands. But before the house goes against the wall, you should give it to someone else." In my unquestionable opinion, there is an urgent need for action right away.

As a representative of the relevant birthdays and commemorations, I would like to quickly dedicate myself to the composer wilhelm kienzl, who was born 156 years ago today in waizenkirchen in upper austria. Music lovers know him mainly for his most famous work, the opera "der evangelimann", as a convinced wagner devotee, he was, among other things, a leading member and later chairman of the wagnerverein graz, which was founded very early 130 years ago.

Why, of all his fourteen popular operas and melodramas, "the testament" is the one that strikes me? (based on motifs by peter rosegger) seems to be worth mentioning, the question remains. Presumably because in the news interview katharina wagner also mentioned the will of her grandfather siegfried wagner, which plays a not inconsiderable role in the statutes of the richard wagner foundation. And because more and more often farmer’s theater is being played in bayreuth as well.

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