Angela Merkel did not faint at Bayreuth

Angela Merkel did not faint at Bayreuth


norman lebrecht

July 26, 2015

Two German media sites, Bild and Speigel, reported that the Chancellor fainted at a coffee bar in Bayreuth.

They later printed a government statement saying it was nothing of the sort. Her chair was faulty and collapsed. The Chancellor went on to watch Tristan und Isolde, which she said she enjoyed.

Our correspondent saw her at the opera and says she looked ‘totally fit’. A colleague who saw her during the coffee incident says the media blew it out of all proportion.

Nothing much else to report from the opening weekend.

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) und ihr Ehemann Joachim Sauer, aufgenommen am 25.07.2015 bei der Eröffnung der 104. Bayreuther Festspiele in Bayreuth (Bayern) in der Pause. Die Richard-Wagner-Festspiele dauern bis zum 28. August. Foto: Tobias Hase/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++


  • Rosana Martins says:

    How nice that a Chancellor, Prime Minister or President enjoys going to the Opera. Rather rare…

  • CDH says:

    She should haul some American President there on a State visit. What a riot that would be.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It’s an old tradition at Bayreuth. At the first festival in 1876, the seats in the theatre appeared to be not strong enough for watching the Ring and bear the weight of endless frustration, impatience, excitement and boredom, and gave way under the buttocks of the Emperor of Brazil, Emanuel Chabrier, Joseph Jongen, the countess of Baden-Württemberg, an unidentified dentist from Cologne and the banker J.J.Müll from Dresden. After the festival, RW inspected the seats, had them all removed and replaced by a more robust type which have inflicted audiences with painful behinds ever since.

    • Simon S. says:

      Dear John, you can do better!

      Firstly, it was not a seat in the theatre that collapsed under Merkel, but a chair in the restaurant.

      And secondly, there has never been a “countess of Baden-Württemberg”, as the merger of Baden and Württemberg did not happen until 1952, long after the abolition of monarchy and nobility in Germany.

      So, you might want to reassess your sources.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Further research has uncovered the following information.

        According to the Stürmische Beobachter of 2 December 1876, the Countess of Baden-Württemberg who bitterly complained about her fall through the seat during the Prologue of Götterdämmerung so that she missed-out on the following love duet, was actually merely posturing as nobility. She happened to be an ex-mistress of Ernst von Wolzogen, member of RW’s inner circle, who had unexpectedly turned-up during the festival claiming a ticket. Since, for Götterdämmerung, 4 seats had been kept free exclusively for late-comers of nobility, Von Wolzogen pretended that Heike Spiessmayer sported the mentioned title, to get her in, because she threatened to inform Cosima Wagner about Wolzogen’s recent escapades in her village.

        The Bayreuther Generalanzeiger, on further exploring the sordid story, adding insult to injury by printing three graphic pictures of the poor woman to its article about the size and weight of ms Spiessmayer which was thought to have induced the collapse of the piece of furniture. The Bayreuther Bildzeitung, which seemed especially fond of finding irrelevant details, mentioned that the dramatic ‘Einstürzung’ of ms Spiessmayer through the seat happened exactly at the end of the Norn scene where the third Norn exclaims: ‘Es riss!’ (f), together with ‘dramatic drum roll’ and followed by the bass trumpet solo (‘Sehr gewichtig’) and similar exclamations by the remaining Norns. ‘No doubt, music scientists will be able to explain this correlation which again shows that Herr Wagner’s music is not without its physical dangers’, the Bildzeitung added.

        Mit Dank an dem Bayerischen Landesbibiliothek für den Zugang zu seinen Archiven.

  • Holger H. says:

    Breaking news.

  • Bogda says:

    Both Austrian and Romanian presidents ware present today at the opening night of Wolfgang Rhim’s “Eroberung von Mexico” in Salzburg, arguably way more demanding work than anything Wagner has ever written 😉

  • Benedettto says:

    “Nothing much else to report”… except that reviewers (both german and british) seem to agree that Katharina Wagner pulled off a pretty convincing staging of Tristan.