Bayreuth’s rat man attacks Katharina Wagner’s lack of vision

Bayreuth’s rat man attacks Katharina Wagner’s lack of vision


norman lebrecht

July 26, 2016

The eminent director Hans Neuenfels, who dressed up his chorus as rats in Bayreuth’s celebrated 2010 production Lohengrin, has spoken out over ‘multiple failures’ at the Wagner festival.

He accused Katharina Wagner, now in sole command, of failing to maintain standards. There were ‘no artistic visions and sensations any more.’

He went on to accuse her of incompetence, arrogance and private self-interest – Unfähigkeit, Präpotenz, Privatismen.

And he ascribes Andris Nelsons’s walkout to ‘an accumulation of (Bayreuth) failures’.

Tough talk. Here (auf Deutsch).

bayreuth lohengin rats


  • Urania says:

    🙂 He shoud know…. 🙂 celebrated Lohengrin….a myth….but as in most sections of society: ‘other thinkers’ to not dare to talk anymore. Ha, ha…..!!!! But I do agree that Bayreuth is going down or is down already! Maybe Mr. Neuenfels has plans to take over 🙂

  • Gerhard says:

    Mr. Neuenfels has undoubtedly a big reputation and knows Bayreuth from the inside. The more disappointing is his inability here to utter any coherent string of thoughts. He seems even to be hardly able to formulate a complete sentence. Nobody would publish such an interview if it wouldn’t come from a “big name”. But this is also sadly neither surprising nor singular.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Norman, instead of “privatisation”, a better translation of “Privatismen” would be ‘privatism’ (as in the attitude of being uncommitted to or avoiding involvement in anything beyond one’s immediate interests).

  • John Borstlap says:

    It is very easy to accuse the Bayreuth management of ‘lack of vision’. In its first decades, it was a place where model performances took place, as an example for other opera houses how to do Wagner. Meanwhile, every opera house can do something with these operas, and the ‘model performances position’ of Bayreuth has lost most of its meaning: only the famous acoustics remain an exclusive asset. Given the crazy presentations everywhere of Wagner operas – the notorious Regieoper – it is no longer ‘schocking’ and ‘original’ when Bayreuth does the same. It is the result of the attempt to try to be as original and nonconformist as everybody else. The requirement of ‘vision’, in this case coming from a stage director, has thus to be treated with the greatest suspicion, to say the least, especially if such a director thinks that dressing-up the chorus as laboratory rats will contribute to the meaning of the work (these ideas are always very nice on paper, in the quiet of a study, but on the stage they mostly fall completely flat).

    In the light of Bayreuth’s history, and the current trends of Regieoper, the most original and explorative vision Bayreuth can come-up with is to produce the works as loyal as possible to the original intentions of the composer, which can be quite a challenge in itself, and where the pitfalls of Wagner’s original stage directions can also be avoided. Regieoperproductions of Wagner are, meanwhile, thoroughly conventional, stale, and juvenile, in desperate attempts to avoid what elsewhere is done and thus arriving again and again at similar results, and what was considered ‘oldfashioned’ in the seventies and later, can now be seen as new and forward-looking.

    ‘Kinder, schafft neues!’ said Wagner – but when the new has become old and stale and conventional? Then the old becomes new again.