Breaking: Ring director considers legal action against Bayreuth

Breaking: Ring director considers legal action against Bayreuth


norman lebrecht

July 21, 2014

Frank Castorf, last-minute director of last summer’s catastrophic Ring cycle has engaged the Gregor Gysi law firm to pursue a case against Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier, directors of the Bayreuth Festival.

Castorf claims the Wagners replaced his Alberich without consultation, sacked his designer and tried to prevent him putting a neo-Nazi placard on stage. He also has a problem with Bayreuth fees which, he says, have shrunk to the point of caricature.’ Read interview here (auf Deutsch).

bayreuth ring


  • Musiker says:

    I’m sorry, but it is simply not true that Castorf’s designer was sacked or that the “fees” have “shrunk to caricature”.
    Nowhere in either the article or the interview proper does Castorf say anything about Aleksandar Denic being “sacked”. (To what end, exactly, since the sets have already been built and are in place in the Festspielhaus).
    And Castorf is talking the about the wider financing available for the revival and re-working of individual stagings, not just his own fees.

  • Musiker says:

    Another point: Castorf says consulted Gregor Gysi as a legal advisor, but makes no mention of any concrete legal suit he may or may not be taking against Katharina and Eva.

  • Simon S. says:

    Regardless of what I might think of the issue as such (hint: fights between evil and evil may have some entertainment value) – I don’t think it’s a good idea to choose your buddy as lawyer rather than someone specialised in the matter.

    (For all readers not up to date in German politics: Gregor Gysi is a politician, parliamentary leader of the “Left Party”, which has its roots in the former East German communist party. He’s a – AFAIK rather good – lawyer indeed, but with his main focus on criminal law.)

    @Musiker: I’m no Bayreuth insider, but as far as I have always understood the “Werkstatt” principle, the productions are modified each summer, and usually by the orignial team. So, it would still make sense to keep or fire the stage designer.

    • Musiker says:

      Yes, Simon S. that is true. But nowhere in the article or the interview does Castorf say that Denic was fired by Katharina and Eva.

    • Nick says:

      From what I have read of the production and the avalanche of booing that resulted throughout, but especially at the end when Castorf took his ‘bow’ – in which he milked the firestorm for 10 minutes before the conductor reminded him that the orchestra had not yet been acknowledged, I am surprised that Castorf has any chance of being rehired for anything. His Ring seems to have been ghastly! The Wagner clan deserve what they got. Granted Wim Wenders opted out at the past minute, but if you then engage a director and his cohorts whose previous productions paid little attention to the text and far more to effect, what did they expect? The Lepage Ring sounds positively enticing in comparison!

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    The interview states that the money made available for potential modifications to existing productions has shrunk to a ridiculous level, not the fees themselves. This may be true; Schlingensief and Herheim alluded to the same problem. What’s more, Aleksandr Denic’s name is on today’s schedule for the Siegfried dress rehearsal; quite an achievement for someone who has ostensibly been sacked.

    Saturday’s dress rehearsal of Die Walküre was greeted with enthusiastic cheers, not a boo to be heard. Catastrophic? Not for everybody, it seems…

  • Fourth Norn says:

    I wouldn’t go to Bayreuth these days if somebody offered me a free ticket. I suggest closing the place for a decade and starting again under new management.

  • Guus Mostart says:

    I attended the dress rehearsals last year and I am afraid the production – although fantastically designed – is a vacuous mess beyond salvation. Obviously Castorf needs a scandal to stir up some interest.

  • John Groves says:

    Bayreuth should hire Barrie Kosky as Intendant and director of productions and Stephan Soltesz as Musical Director. (Tho’ neither would take the job!)

    • Guus Mostart says:

      Rumour has it that Mr. Kosky has been booked to direct Meistersinger in 2017.

      • john groves says:

        Great news if true! I loved Kosky’s Gotterdammerung at Essen – unfortunately missed the rest of his Ring at Hanover! But he has done wonders for the Komische Oper in Berlin, so…..! Now to get Soltesz: he makes an orchestra sound so rich and full of depth in Wagner and R Strauss – but, like all of us, he is not getting any younger!!

  • Harald Braun says:

    What a pathetic little moron!Who needs people like him killing opera to promote themselves in spite of their lousy achievements!Just ignore him!

  • Hugh Canning says:

    A rumour with more than a thread of truth in it, I’d say. I heard it from someone who has the ear of “the horse’s mouth”.

  • Tristan says:

    sorry guys the Wagner sisters have engaged Castorf and also Baumgarten for his horrendous Tannhaeuser – at least one of them is leaving by the end of this year who has been so overrated for her jobs in Aix etc. Bayreuth should finally be run by professionals and none of the sisters are. Bayreuth is not worth a visit any-more except listening to the fabulous orchestra and great conductors like Thielemann, Petrenko and Nelsons. The singers have been since years mediocre and the great ones likes Meier, Stemme and Kaufmann as well as Pape they all left.