Andris Nelsons’ stunning walkout from this summer’s Parsifal illustrates a deep-seated crisis at Bayreuth. Andris loves the festival. It gave him his first international break, caused him to be spotted by Birmingham and has generally given him pleasure and professional satisfaction throughout his fast-track career.
He did not quit lightly.
From the little we know of the true cause, he was not too keen on the Parsifal production and he was even less enthusiastic about uncalled-for interventions by the festival’s music director, Christian Thielemann. Whichever of these reasons triggered the walkout, it’s unlikely Andris will be back any time soon.
Nor will Kirill Petrenko.
He announced last year that he was leaving Bayreuth because it used him as a workhorse, will scant regard for his needs and wishes. His girlfriend went on to pull out of the Ring after a clash with Thielemann.
That’s how things are at Bayreuth these days. There is a leader. You do things his way, or you find something else to do with your summer.
Nelsons and Petrenko will not go short of offers. Other maestros will steer clear.