Two Brexit buddies at Bayreuth

Two Brexit buddies at Bayreuth


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2017

Michael Gove, a fanatical Brexit member of the British government, and his Tory pal George Osborne have been snapped on their Wagner holiday at Bayreuth, blithely inhabiting Wagner’s imaginary world. See here for pic.

The pair are regular Wagner-goers back home, both at Covent Garden and at Longborough.

They are publicly divided over Brexit and Osborne now edits an anti-May freesheet. But it was Osborne’s negative Remain campaign that prompted the country to embrace isolationism and both men must take responsbility for the position in which we find ourselves. Perhaps they find some justification in Wagner’s convoluted ideas.

Rather than being encouraged that senior UK politicians actually enjoy opera, the picture fills me with dismay at the Tory collusion that prevails at the political summit – oblivious to the vital issues of the day.


  • Peter Graham says:

    Ex-colleagues putting their friendship ahead of their different views and listening to some music together = “Tory collusion”.

    Attending an opera = being “oblivious to the vital issues of the day”.

    Do you really believe this nonsense, Norman?

    Were Prof Hardy and his wife “blithely inhabiting” this world too, when he took the picture? Or is this just an excuse for you to lob some abuse at Conservative politicians, on grounds you’d never apply to others?

    • Graeme Hall says:

      Quite. Merkel or Macron go to the opera and Mr Lebrecht (and others) will tell us how much more civilised and cultured European leaders are than ours. Gove and Osborne go to Bayreuth and get abuse. Double standards I think.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I try to assimilate Wagner’s ideas with brexit propaganda….. Maybe Lohengrin’s Swan came from the continent, or Hagen’s mischievous intriguing is appropriate. I go for the Vassals’ chorus in Götterdämmerung as the apt metaphor for the brexitteers, whereby ‘the bride’ would be Brittannia:

  • Anon says:

    Macron asks for tickets to see Argerich and he’s a cultural hero; Merkel goes to the opera and it’s a sign of Germany having more cultured politicians than the Brits. Gove and Osbourne go to the opera – and not, as far as we know, on a state junket, but of their own volition in holiday time – and it’s suddenly something to engender despair. Poor blokes can’t win.

    • Nik says:

      They were roundly lambasted in the British press in 2012 when they went to see the Ring at the ROH. Both were still in the Cabinet at the time, but they went in their own time at their own expense.
      The British press is deeply suffused with reverse cultural snobbery. Opera is treated as a poncey pursuit for posh people, whereas elected representatives are expected to fall in line with more popular tastes. This is why Blair and Cameron had to feign a passion for football, and Gordon Brown pathetically professed his love for the Arctic Monkeys.

  • Patricia says:

    this is something to applaud not denigrate. Or is it only Corbyn at Glastonbury that we should praise for his cultural preferences??

  • Furzwängler says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, what do you mean by “prompted the country to embrace isolationism”? The fact is, the country as a whole has embraced the opposite, namely a global outlook on the world.

  • Eamonn Maguire says:

    Osborne is pissed off after getting the boot up the arse from Mother Theresa, he now edits the Evening Standard a London rag owned by Two beards and fires off the odd salvo in it against her. I bumped into him in the Wigmore hall bar once during a Bernarda Fink lieder concert, he looked a right bollix.

  • Paul Capon says:

    I think people might be missing the point of Mr. Lebrecht’s article. The issue is not whether they are going to an opera, it is where they are going to the opera. People are also missing the rich and sad irony of this picture.

    Both individuals represent a party which is increasingly nationalistic and seeks to leave the EU. Yet in going to Bayreuth – one of the most exclusive and expensive festivals in Europe – they are attending with benefit of free movement, the very thing their party opposes in the future. It is kind of like shopping for bargains at an exclusive shop before it goes out of business….

    The fact that they are attending Der Ring Des Nibelung, only heightens the irony. They kind of look like they are blindly walking…. to Gotterdammerung – Twilight of the Gods. An opera where the leaders destroy their world by their own hubris and deceit. Surely life does not imitate life? I wonder who was the Wotan, the Siegfried, the Brunnhilde, etc…

    • Jaybuyer says:

      Der Ring des Nibelungen

    • Peter Graham says:

      Free movement is the right to move to another EU/EFTA country and:

      – Reside for more than 3 months if working or self-employed.
      – Permanently reside after 5 years of continuous residence.

      You don’t need free movement to go on holiday. You don’t need a right to permanent residence to go and work in another country either, just an appropriate visa or a visa-waver scheme.

      That’s how Bayreuth had international visitors and singers before 1992, still does from outside the EU, and will continue to have them from the UK.

  • John Borstlap says:

    My fly on the wall has informed me that the real reason for Mr Gove was to visit Dr Steinbruch at the Nervenkrankenhaus, which he had hoped to cover-up by a festival visit.

    The NKH is famous in Bavaria for its specialization in the ‘Behandlung von Geistes- und Gemütskrankheiten (Psychosen) sowie seelische Störungen (Neurosen)’. Since WW II, its success has been dramatically boosted by the new style of Wagner productions in the Festspielhaus, which sent one section of the audience into grave neurotic frustration, and the other into manic jubilation, both groups needing immediate treatment after the performances.