By B. John Zavrel
New excitement in Bayreuth: The two stepsisters Eva Wagner-Pasquier and the younger Katharina Wagner (right) want to find new pathways into the future. They have taken over the management of the Bayreuth Festival from their father, Wolfgang Wagner.
Bayreuth/Berlin/New York (mea) More government cash for the cult of Richard Wagner in Bayreuth is in sight. The German government and the State of Bavaria plan to increase their financial support to the world's most renowned music festival. At a glamorous reception of the Bavarian government in Berlin, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel instructed the German Minister of Culture Bernd Neumann that the state subventions for 2010 will be increased to 2,300,000 Euro. Also Bavaria will significantly increase its present level of support of the 'Green Hill'.
According to Neumann, the place known around the world as the 'Green Hill' is like a 'German Mount Olympus'. And it should be made accessible not only to those fortunate ones who 'have grown up with a violin in their crib'. Among the guests at the reception were the Bavarian Minister of Culture Wolfgang Heubisch and the young co-director Katharina Wagner. Together with her stepsister Eva Wagner-Pasquier, she will bring new direction to the Festival. After 57 years, the era of Wolfgang Wagner has ended. The change of the generations took place in Bayreuth. The question, if more admissions tickets will be made available in the future, still remains open. Above all, many Americans would like to make a pilgrimage to Bayreuth, only if there were admission tickets available at a reasonable price.
Also uncertain is at this time, how the relations between the two Wagner stepsisters will develop. Skeptics are afraid that the blond duo will turn into a modern-day version of 'Kriemhilde and Brunhilde'. Also open is, which of them will play which part. The rumors behind the stage are an accompanying melody, ever since the Festival began.
An impressive bust of Cosima Wagner in Bayreuth. Arno Breker has created this masterpiece. In the future, a plaque under the bronze is to point out some of Arno Breker's perceived entanglements during the Nazi times.
And again and again the Nazi past
With the declaration by the German Minister Neumann, the mantle of history should from now on cover up the Nazi past of the Bayreuth Festival. It should be forgotten that Adolf Hitler has been the greatest patron of the Festival, and a supporter of Winifred Wagner. And that also goes for the 'loyalty to the Führer' of this 'grand lady of Bayreuth'. Also is to be forgotten that the musical genius was one of the greatest anti-semites of his times.
But there is no Wagnerian soap opera without exceptions. In spite of all wishes for a new beginning under the female direction, yet one totally innocent artist should still be made into a scapegoat: the sculptor Arno Breker. He has created the grandious busts of Richard Wagner, Cosima Wagner and Franz Liszt, which are located in the public park which surrounds the festival theater. These magnificent works of art are constantly admired by the international visitors. Regarding the Nazi past of the young Wagner clan, this is planned: "Small plaques on the busts of Richard and Cosima Wagner by Hitler's favorite sculptor Arno Breker should remind visitors of the sculptor's perceived entanglements in the NS times', was reported by the media in Germany. But it should be remembered, that there were never any anti-semitic utterances by Breker, as opposed to Wagner.
International visitors admire also the bust Franz Liszt by Arno Breker in Bayreuth. The famous composer from Hungary was Richard Wagner's father-in-law. The artwork on public display is bear a defamatory comment against the sculptor.
But be it as it may: the 98th Richard Wagner Festival will open on June 25, 2009 with the production by Christoph Marthalers of "Tristan and Isolde" from 2005. For this event, numerous men and women from politics, showbiz and industry are expected. The Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel belongs to the guests who always come. For her, free seats are always reserved, as is well known backstage.
And in an election year, it is always good for the nation's top politicians to show themselves by such cultural events of national significance. For the leadership of the Bavarian government, attendace at the Festival is a must. Also the German President Horst Köhler is expected in Bayreuth. The Nazi times ended also for this German chief of state in 1945, 64 years ago.
Other works of the 2009 billboard for the Bayreuth Festival are: "The Meistersinger of Nürnberg", "Parsifal" as well as the tetralogy "The Ring of the Nibelungen". A new production is planned for 2010. It will be "Lohengrin", directed by Hans Neuenfels.
© PROMETHEUS 144/2009
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 144, June 2009