Anyone free to conduct Bayreuth’s Parsifal?

Anyone free to conduct Bayreuth’s Parsifal?


norman lebrecht

July 04, 2016

They have been phoning around for four days and can’t sign a maestro of appropriate quality.

Either the big batons are busy, or… well, it’s Bayreuth, not the most conductor-friendly place on earth.

Less than four weeks to go and Parsifal may have to conduct himself. Wait, who’s that bloke on the bench?


wagner bayreuth2


  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Fewer than four weeks to go…

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    The Parsifal Sitzprobe is on Thursday. No-one free? Step up, CT! Was für eine Überraschung!

    • John Borstlap says:

      A Tristan AND a Parsifal in the same period is a but much for one conductor, even for someone like CT. They need someone to redeem them from an unsavory situation – and it seems an impossible task: someone who has already worked in the theatre and knows the acustical problems, AND who is a top conductor, AND who happens to be free, AND who has already done a Parsifal elsewhere with success.

    • Kris Emmett says:

      Get me there and I’ll do it!

  • AB says:

    Gergiev would be totally able to do not only Parsifal, but also The Ring and Tristan if he would be asked. It is not about the artistic qualit, but at least physically this guy would be able to do it.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Sure. Seeing as he never rehearses he’d be able to save up all his energy for those lucrative performances. Priorities, priorities…

      • harold braun says:

        Gergiev has done a very fine Parsifal both at Marinsky and the MET….much better than the sluggish, pseudo Furtwanglerian CT performance

    • Greg from SF says:

      Gergiev is a wildly overrated hack. He conducts with no nuance or insight, a result of never actually rehearsing, and he possesses a slovenly technique (if you can call that absurd hand flopping and fluttering a “technique”). He shows up to performances at the last possible minute, having had no rehearsals and being totally jet-lagged, and gets paid top dollar (pound, ruble, mark) for his weak and minuscule efforts. How can performing organizations stand for this kind of nonsense? His worldwide success simply baffles me.

      • Bruce says:

        Whatever, he sells tickets.

        (That gives me an idea: maybe Andre Rieu is free. Nah, he’s probably too expensive…)

      • John Borstlap says:

        The Gergiev phenomenon is, from a musical and an anthropological point of view, an interesting one. He lacks all the things just mentioned but he has a very strong and instinctive musicality, which overrules the flaws. Years ago, I have heard fantastic performances with him. Unfortunately, over the last years he seems to abuse his instinctive gift rather than refine it, and runs after his reputation instead of deepening his abilities. And now that he has decided to serve a dangerous and nationalistic regime, he should no longer be allowed to work in the west. I think it is a personality problem that we see often in music life: people who develop everything within the realm of music and leave other sides of their being wasted. In the end, the desert they create swallows them.

        • Michael VC says:

          I like to keep out of the polarised opinions that Gergiev engenders, but I recently heard him conduct a wonderful Romeo and Juliet with his Mariinsky orchestra at the Cadogan Hall. It was taut, visceral, exciting and involved. He brought out colours and textures and sounds I have never experienced at the 100+ performances I have seen of the ballet from Fonteyn onwards (no, not Ulanova!). It was as moving as the greatest of these staged shows.

      • Olassus says:

        Not entirely, and I’m no fan.

        Try his 81-minute 1998 Baden-Baden Nutcracker (on Philips). Then compare Previn’s famous 86-minute 1972 Kingsway Hall version with the LSO (on EMI).

        There you hear Gergiev’s imagination at work.

      • Roberto says:

        @ GREG from SF: I totally agree with you. To me, Gergiev is guilty of having conducted the w o r s t Ring I have ever had the misfortune of attending – and paying good money for – in London or anywhere else. The guy should leave Wagner alone.

    • Richard Wattenbarger says:

      No, not Gergiev or anyone else who has no experience with the Bayreuth acoustic.

  • mario lutz says:

    Alejo Perez, he conducted Parsifal last December in the Colón Theater , but you may have a private plane to share his conducting between Salzburg (Gounoud’s Faust – August 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29) and the Green Hill.

    • Pedro says:

      Levine and Böhm before him were teo commuters between Bayreuth and Salzburg in the good old days. Barenboim too.

  • DB says:

    CT himself should do it. It’s his venue now, he should clean it up.

  • Edgar says:

    Time to put a moratorium on Bayreuth for a few years, in order to get all the entire Wagner clan of the hill, and in the meantime assemble a competent team with people who are equally adept at management and artistic vision. Most importantly, banish CT to Dresden, or, if he is to conduct at Bayreuth, place a minder above him, and rid him of that fancy title of Musicdirektor. Musikdirektor is the one leading the performance on any given night. A radical ( as “from the root”) new start is necessary. Meanwhile, until Bayreuth regains it’s footing, better Wagner is heard elsewhere.

    • Michael VC says:

      But nowhere gives you not only that magical acoustic, but also a view focused on nothing but the stage, which in some productions seems suspended in mid-air! And the only significant opera house – as far as I am aware – that lets you listen to and watch Wagner without the irritating distraction of subtitles, sometimes multi-lingual, often poorly timed and increasingly used by the subtitling team as an opportunity to re-interpret, let alone re-write, what the composer/librettist actual created.

      Bayreuth is not perfect, but it is still an enchanting and unique marvel. The experience of the Festspielhaus is Wagner’s extraordinary legacy to us. It’s Germany’s, Bavaria’s, Bayreuth’s, the Wagner family’s: I’m not sure we have any right to tell them what to do with it.

  • David H Spence says:

    Why not employ Ingo Metzmacher to conduct this summer’s Parsifal? He has very effectively done it in Hamburg and Vienna before – and he is well overdue a debut on the Green Hill. Observe too perhaps how well he did to replace Kirill Petrenko at Salzburg with Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and even outclassed Valery Gergiev conducting it on what is one of Gergiev’s best operatic works to conduct – all this as an aside.

  • Mark-Jan Paanakker says:

    There is only one suitable candidate: Hartmut Haenchen. Best Wagner conductor around and specialized on Parsifal. He belongs in Bayreuth and should get the opportunity to direct in particular that work in that place.

  • Bennie says:

    Gergiev shall pull an Uber (surge pricing).

  • Michael Wilkinson says:

    Mark Wigglesworth? He conducted a superb revival of Parsifal at ENO a few years ago, orchestrally outstanding, and may have some gaps in his diary after his principled resignation.

  • Tim Walton says:

    It’s CT’s fault that the problem has arisen.

    He should do it himself.

    IF anyone takes on the job, I hope they get it in writing that it is conditional on the idiot dictator CT not interfering!

  • Josep says:

    And… it’s Hartmut Haenchen!

  • Michael MIller says:

    Jonas Alber, who conducted superb Rheingolds and a Götterdämmerung at short notice at Dresden at few years ago.

  • Bruce says:

    I wish I’d known about Betteridge’s Law of Headlines when this was first posted:

  • says:

    Nelsons Lohengrin rats and all was musically among the best realized performances. He withdrew because of Katerina and Herr Direktor CT. They are welcome to CT in Dresden with his limited repertoire and his known dick personality.

  • Roger Moritz says:

    I’ll do it.