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When you have friends, you don't need enemies anymore

In 2026, on the 150th anniversary of the Bayreuth Festival, this unique festival of composers, will a person without the surname Wagner sit on the throne for the first time? It could be.

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When you have friends, you don't need enemies anymore

In 2026, on the 150th anniversary of the Bayreuth Festival, this unique festival of composers, will a person without the surname Wagner sit on the throne for the first time? It could be. Because Katharina Wagner, whose contract runs until 2025, is currently making life as a principal really difficult again.

Some are calling for their dismissal because they consider the current “Ring” to have failed. As if that, even if it were, is a criterion. The theater is one of the very few places where experimentation is still allowed and failure is part of the process.

The others, the Thielemann faction, have a cold because their conductor hero is leaving the hill for the time being after more than two decades - Semyon Bychkov, Pablo Heras-Casado and Natalie Stutzmann will conduct in future. And Thielemann is already talking about a return in 2025.

The biggest problem in Bayreuth at the moment is the hesitant policy. Culture Minister Petra Roth inherited a problem from her predecessor Monika Grütters that she had already named but not solved. The administrative structure of the festival is completely outdated. The festival director is the pawn of four parties: the Federal Republic of Germany, the Free State of Bavaria, the city of Bayreuth and the Society of Friends of Bayreuth.

The "friends" in the form of their 77-year-old chairman Georg von Waldenfels, Bavaria's ex-finance minister, are now particularly problematic. Although they give relatively little, they get involved massively in artistic things.

Waldenfels has just announced that Christian Thielemann is “brilliant” and “it has to be much more about the music than directing anyway. From my point of view, how the music is perceived is more important than what happens on stage.” You could also call that an impertinence.

As you can hear, the friends are currently also blocking the purchase of 3D glasses for the new "Parsifal" 2023, which have long since been approved by the administrative director. And Katharina Wagner's nerves, which have long let a lot roll off, have become thinner.

So that's where Claudia Roth comes in. Instead of demanding "diversity" and "young viewers" (for which the sponsors would first have to lower the ticket prices), she should rather ensure that only the federal government and Bavaria in Bayreuth have the say in addition to the director.

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