Conductor threatens to walk out on Bayreuth

Conductor threatens to walk out on Bayreuth


norman lebrecht

June 06, 2015

More Wagner troubles.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that Katharina Wagner is trying to terminate her half-sister Eva’s involvement before the summer’s up. They are communicating through lawyers, as Wagners do.

Meantime Kirill Petrenko, music director of Bavarian State Opera, is furious that the outspoken Canadian tenor Lance Ryan has been dropped as Siegfried. He says: ‘Only my responsibility and respect for my colleagues has stopped me walking out before the start of rehearsals…. Nur die Verantwortung und der Respekt meinen Kollegen in Bayreuth gegenüber, die ich nicht so knapp vor Beginn der Proben im Stich lassen kann, hält mich davon ab, meine Mitwirkung aufzukündigen.’


Christian Thielemann has denied through a spokesman that he had anything to do with these changes.



  • Gary Carpenter says:

    Lance Ryan is a wonderful Siegfried – when he remembers to show up for a performance that is! ?

    • RW2013 says:

      I once heard a Siegfried in Berlin where Ryan indeed missed the first act and was replaced at the last minute by Andreas Schager, who sang from the side.
      Schager won hands down.

  • Olassus says:


    1. Any festival that starts with the consecutive services over three nights of Christian Thielemann, Alain Altinoglu and Kirill Petrenko is in good shape.

    2. With his comments about the Bayreuth audience being full of hate, Lance Ryan was surely asking to be fired.

    3. Petrenko does not appear to be making a threat, just airing his exasperation.

    • DESR says:

      They hated the production, not him so much, though sadly for him, his voice is rather worn.

      The treatment of Siegfried as a character and as an opera is the worst bit of Castorf’s interpretation. So Ryan would have felt the full force of that, I’m afraid…

  • william osborne says:

    In addition to Ryan’s removal, a restraining order has been issued that prevents Eva from entering the grounds of Bayreuth. The orchestra continues its open sexism. The m/f ratio in the winds and percussion in 2014 remained at 62 to 2. There are no auditions. Participation is by invitation from the section only. A darker side of the German orchestral world is thus openly revealed.

    The heir to Bayreuth was to be the Wolfgang’s son Gottfried who has a Ph.D. in Theater Studies, but Gottfried broke completely with the family decades ago because of its reluctance to address its Nazi past. The appalling lack of women in the orchestra only adds to the questions about the less fortunate side of Bayreuth’s cultural identity.

    • erich says:

      Like McCavity or Mackie Messer, Thielemann never seems to be there or responsible when yet another Intendant falls, be it in Munich, Dresden, Salzburg or Bayreuth.
      One hears that the latest incident with Eva Wagner is due to her vehement
      opposition to his impending but not yet publicised appointment as Bayreuth’s Music Director. Thielemann is anxious not to leave fingerprints so as not to blot an already heavily soiled copybook in the light of current rumours that the Berlin Philharmonic might vote once again on Rattle’s successor before their summer break at the end of June.

      • Olassus says:

        ” … current rumours that the Berlin Philharmonic might vote once again on Rattle’s successor before their summer break at the end of June.”


        So that whole year-from-now thing was just to buy them some cover and take the pressure off.

        It has to be Christian Thielemann if the decision comes so soon. There really is no smart alternative.

      • Furzwängler says:

        Thank you, Erich, for such a cogent and insightful analysis.

    • Angela Rodion says:

      Having seen the orchestra pit at Bayreuth I can’t imagine any woman wanting to play in it, night after night, surrounded by a lot of sweating men.

      • william osborne says:

        Most opera pits are cramped, and yet the ratio of women in opera orchestras is higher than for symphony orchestras. Rumor has it that many men and women like getting sweaty together while being creative…

        • DESR says:

          I think might just have revealed the real source of his zeal for more mixed orchestration… if you catch my drift (say no more…).

          Am I the only one to be slightly grossed at having to peer through the greasy window of his perfervid world?!

        • Una says:

          I went to Gotterdammerung there in 2009, thanks to dear Anna Reynold, and our own British and very versatile Andrew Shore sang everyone off the stage!!!

          • Peter says:

            “our own British…” Do you happen to be from the older generation? I certainly hope so, since I dearly hope for the sake of the advancement of mankind, that these primitive nationalistic ideologies die out rather sooner than later.

  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    Are we perhaps observing here the naissance of Götterdämmering part 2 ?

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Good to see the traditions of the Wagner hatefest being maintained .

  • Angela Rodion says:

    What a family!!!

    • Tristan says:

      ‘fast schäm’ ich mich mit ihnen zu schaffen’ – isn’t Loge’s sentence the right one for the Wagner family in Bayreuth? None of them should be there, all overrated!
      They might have two fabulous conductors there but singing and producers are mediocre

  • David Boxwell says:

    Bayreuth in crisis: how to compete when virtually very other house in the world can do excellent Wagner too, but without the family soap opera, expensive seats, backstage tsuris, shock-jock Regie, tacky formality, uncomfortable seats, stuffy hall, and the historical baggage of complicity with Evil?

  • John says:

    “Bayreuth in crisis” well that’s NOT a news ! I think even Richard W. was in conflict with himself regarding his Festspiel !

  • Catriona says:

    Eva Wagner-Pasquier, B.A (music) is highly qualified to take her place in Bayreuth above her half-sister. Eva has worked at Chatelet in Paris, and as co-director of several successful productions. Katherina is a total failure without an iota of musical or dramatic abilities. Wolfgang was aware of the situation. The fracas is caused by Katherina’s resentment and envy of Eva’s education and seeks revenge. Her atrocious Mastersingers seemed to be an attack on the very institution she runs.

  • Bogda says:

    There might be some debate among the audience about Castorf’s Ring in Bayreuth, but there was certainly no debate regarding the Lance Ryan’s Siegfried last year. His removal from the Ring is probably the most welcoming news to come out of Bayreuth in a while. He was unanimously the most detested performer during the festival last year, by a large margin.