Cher Public

Chat: Bayreuth Festival

Green HillSeekers of Kunst among the cher public (and you know who you are!) may convene here over the next week or so to chat about live broadcasts from this year’s Bayreuth Festival.

The hill is greener

Live recordings of Hans Knappertsbusch conducting Parsifal seem to proliferate like stairways in M.C. Escher prints. The high priest of the podium so owned this music in the 1950s and early 1960s that at least a half dozen transfers are in circulation, augmenting his gold standard 1962 Philips release and the historic 1951 reading that inaugurated the post-war Bayreuth Festival.

All share common characteristics: a spacious approach to Wagner’s musical line, great depth of expression and an unforced wash of sound that tenor Jess Thomas likened to a cloud cushioning the voices on stage.   Read more »

Tanks a lot, but no tanks

Bayreuth’s most recent production of Tannhäuser was set to be retired. So of course they captured the 2014 performances for posterity and released it on video. The DVD has the typical Bayreuth package—it’s well-filmed, with a fairly steady camera that often pans out to full-stage shots instead of the using the new HD technique of constant close-ups. Good job, Bayreuth film crew.

The production by Sebastian Baumgarten is however the type of regietheater that’s not a rethinking or reconstruction, but just a hot mess. The first clue that the director might have been a little too high on his own ideas is the fact that the pre-curtain time AND intermissions are staged. Yes, that’s right, Baumgarten apparently thought his ideas were such treasures that he expected the audiences to not pee during a five-hour opera. I have no idea how this actually played in the house and whether everyone really stayed put during intermissions but this is how it’s presented in the video. Read more »

Angela Merkel

Oh Angela Merkel we love you get up

There is no snow in Bayreuth. There is no rain in Oberfranken.

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“Nun halt’ ich, was mich erhebt, der Mächtigen mächtigsten Herrn!”

In an unprecedented move, the Bayreuth Festival has named conductor Christian Thielemann official “Music Director.”

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Heil and farewell

The Bayreuth Festival has decided to walk away from a new Parsifal production directed by Jonathan Meese for 2016 because the budget has spiraled out of control. Andris Nelsons is still on board to conduct.

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Seligsten Paar

Maestro Christian Thielemann has made his choice for Lohengrin casting in Dresden and, later, Bayreuth: “Anna Netrebko als Elsa und Piotr Beczala in der Titelpartie.”

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Rough trade and regie

Meet Tobias Kratzer (left) who is scheduled to direct Tannhäuser for Bayreuth in 2019.

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“I felt the hand of Death”

Oddly enough, Eva Marton‘s interpretation of the Kostelnicka (pictured) goes unmentioned in Issue #38.

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In Ring und Reih’ die Hall’ erfüllen die Helden

Our Own JJ has been thinking about Bayreuth some more, this time in the pages of Musical America.

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