Wolfgang Wagner Decides Not to Decide

Among other blogs, I checked The Rest Is Noise to see if Alex Ross had any thoughts on the appointment of Riccardo Muti as CSO Director, but he was too busy covering the announcement from Bayreuth that Wolfgang Wagner will step down on August 31, leaving Bayreuth in the hands of BOTH his daughters, Eva and Katharina.

The backstory: The festival is run by a joint government/private foundation these days. Wagners get dibs on the director’s job, provided there’s a qualified family member available. There are several family members with relevant experience:

  • Katharina Wagner (Wolfgang’s youngest daughter, and his choice for successor) 
  • Eva Wagner-Pasquier (Wolfgang’s older daughter by first marriage; was chosen by the foundation but Wolfgang refused to step down unless they picked Katharina instead)
  • Nike Wagner (Wolfgang’s niece, Wieland Wagner’s daughter)
  • Gottfried Wagner (Wolfgang’s son; estranged from the family after mentioning the Nazi elephant in the room)

BUT, the foundation has veto power, and it selected Eva a few years ago. On the other hand, Wolfgang has had a lifetime directorship, allowing him, in turn, to veto the foundation’s choice by promising to hang in there till he got his choice: Katharina. According to the news items, the two sisters decided to end the standoff by collaborating, but officially it is an interim arrangement.

Recommended Book:

 

Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival
by Frederic Spotts

A very gossipy history of the goings-on on the Green Hill from a detailed explanation of the unique acoustics and architecture of Bayreuth almost to the modern-day family dynastic squabbles.

by Gottfried Wagner, Della Couling
A highly personal insight from a black sheep of the Wagner clan, the musicologist and director Gottfried Wagner (Wolfgang’s son).