Bayreuth: Loudest booing yet for Katie Wagner

Bayreuth: Loudest booing yet for Katie Wagner


norman lebrecht

July 29, 2018

Reports from Bayreuth say that Katharina Wagner’s Friday-night revival of Tristan und Isolde was greeted with the heaviest booing she has yet received.

There was loud applause for the protagonists,Stephen Gould and Petra Lang, and for the conductor Christian Thielemann.


  • Caravaggio says:

    Calling for regime change

  • Joseph Collins says:

    It is necessary to ask K.Wagner to step out of Bayreuth.
    I know many people that stoped coming to Bayreuth because of the bad productions.
    Bayreuth is no more attractive as it used to be.

    • Bogda says:

      Good. So stay away if you don’t like it. They have some of the highest orders for tickets in years so there will be more for the rest of us who are actually interested in going there.

      • Jonathan Greene. says:

        You are completely wrong.
        We have been there many times in the past.
        Go there and you will find yourself that it is better to go to the Met or Vienna or Berlin for much better productions.
        And….I have news for you.Today ther is no more a long waiting list.You can get tickets to almost all the performances if you book in time.
        I wish you good luck and enjoyment of the ugly productions of K.W.

        • Edgar says:

          There are even Viennese who flock to Dresden for superb opera. Heard it from someone who lives in Vienna. Munich is also high on the list, but that might change with the new manager and music director coming in. Never a dull moment with opera….

        • Sharon says:

          Ugly productions? It seems to me that all the high tech scenic bling on the Met stage distracts from the music and singing, especially for people like me, the musically untrained

        • Bogda says:

          I’ve been a regular at Bayreuth for years, as well as in Vienna and Dresden, and basically more or less everywhere else in Europe. Have also seen several productions at Met, so I do have idea what is being produced where.
          Every company has its ups and downs. However neither Vienna nor Met have produced a relevant production of basically anything in decades. These are artistically dead theatres (Met way more than Vienna) They do manage from time to time to assemble interesting casts and make interesting musical performances. As theatres however they are irrelevant.
          Bayreuth with all its failures has managed to produce some of the most relevant Wagner productions of the last decade. Herheim’s Parsifal, Neuenfels’ Lohengrin and most importantly Castorf’s Ring. Additionally, they have significantly increased their musical standards, and are now assembling casts second to none.

          • John Borstlap says:

            The word ‘relevant’ raises grave suspicions as to the production qualities of those theatres.

          • Sylvie Raileanu says:

            LEVINE KILLED THE MET..he had too much power and NO IDEA of theater.

        • jaypee says:

          “Today ther is no more a long waiting list.”

          Wrong. it took me 4 years to get tickets and I’ll finally go later in August (Parsifal, Tristan and Meistersinger). Admitedly, it used to be 6 years…

  • John Rook says:

    Boos that she has yet received for Tristan, maybe, but probably not for Meistersinger, which received a deafening, routine Buhhagel every performance from 2007 till 2011. That was also a shame, as the production gained considerably in coherency over the years.

  • william osborne says:

    Given elements of Bayreuth’s history, elements of the music, and elements of the public, evoking a Buhhagel at Bayrueth is, for better or worse, a mark of distinction in some circles. In certain “good ol’ days” such irreverent productions in the Holy Temple of Deutsche Kunst would not have been tolerated — to put it mildly. I think Katharina’s perspectives about production need to be understood in this context. Let’s just say that Bayreuth is not the most progressive place in the world. It doesn’t take a whole lot to evoke a Buhhagel there.

    It might also be noted that women represent only 5% of the Bayreuth orchestra, the lowest ratio of any major orchestra in the world, hands down. Membership is by invitation only. No auditions results in almost no women. Another example of an unfortunate mindset. I wish the Wagner women would also deal with that — and of course, to the usual Buhhagel.

    • william osborne says:

      The m/f ratio in the winds and percussion is 66 to 3. This should be a national disgrace.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      How does the invitations system work? I see that some of the prominent well represented orchestras include the Staatskapelle Dresden, Leipzig Gewandhaus and SO d Bayerischen Rundfunks.

      Membership is overhelmingly German. I noticed a few members from Austria and only one from Paris. Personally I don’t mind that, because I find that internationalization is making the world more homogenized at the expense of variety. But I’d be curious to read your take.

      • John Rook says:

        It’s also quite possible that many women are just not interested in spending their entire summer in an orchestra pit, having done precisely that from September to July.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          But why would the Bayreuth pit be any less attractive for women than it is for men?

          • John Rook says:

            Not being an orchestral player I couldn’t tell you with any authority. Many in the Bayreuth pit are colleagues from their day-job orchestras, so maybe they like the idea of a well-paid boys’ summer camp (and you can have a great time in that place; Bayreuth in summer is wonderful). Maybe many women can’t be bothered with the idea of breaking through a glass ceiling when they could spend their summer doing something different. I really don’t know, and I care even less, to be honest.

          • Player says:

            The smell?

      • william osborne says:

        I don’t think it is wrong that the orchestra is largely German. Among other things, they prefer some kinds of wind instruments seldom used elsewhere. They have some relatively unique concepts of sound and articulation. And a relationship to Wagner that no other culture has (for better or worse.)

        It’s just that their system of membership by invitation only, which results in such a low representation of women, definitively reveals the sexism that still exists in Germany’s orchestra world. If they want to use such a system, they should be aware of the biases revealed and give some thought to diversity. Sadly, the mindset in Germany’s orchestral world is so unevolved in this area that it is often like being in the 1950s. The idea of paying closer attention to the inclusion of women would be totally alien to them.

        I’m not fully informed about how the invitation system works. Each section decides who they want to invite. I suspect names are proposed and they informally agree as a section. The system is pretty loose and based on personal networks. And of course, it illustrates the discriminatory nature of informal professional networks.

        Two of my wife’s students are in the trombone section. One had studied earlier with a former member of Bayreuth and thus had an inside connection. I suspect he proposed his fellow student of Abbie.

  • Gan Heffetz says:

    The audience are sick of Regietheater and want it to stop.

    • Bogda says:

      By audience you mean yourself? Or do you have some proof of that apart from personal preferences of your circle of friends or comments on social media ?

      • Gan Heffetz says:

        Apparently there were people loudly booing in the audience, as the report states.
        This merely demonstrates the fact that this staging practice has never been unanimously accepted and is still controversial.

        • Bogda says:

          Firstly something being booed by few people does not mean much. People boo anything anywhere for different reasons. Booing of Katharina Wagner after Tristan is mainly directed at her as festival director not as a stage director, as most find her Tristan to be acceptable. Production on its own is not that controversial.
          Chereau was heavily booed, but later his Ring became a legend. Similar has happened to Castorf, booed after first few runs, 35 minute ovations after the last show.
          If stage directors were to think about not offending anyone or making productions which are not controversial, theatre would die (as is basically had already at the Met)

          • Gan Heffetz says:

            The directors’ diagnosis of the problem (the stagnating repertoire) I share, but I disagree on the solution.

            Another thing I don’t understand is this reverence of authority. If someone is famous or widely accepted in the profession, it automatically makes any criticism of them misinformed and illegitimate. Why?

            Furtwängler once held a talk at the Hans Eisler school in Berlin, where he said he didn’t find Mozart’s Zauberflöte overture on par with the level of the rest of the opera, and added “we should reserve the right to like and dislike things”. Why not?

          • Tristan says:

            please do not compare amazing Chereau with someone like Castorf’, it’s just ridiculous! The Ring was sîmply awful and no wonder great Kiril Petrenko had enough after two years.

          • Bogda says:

            “please do not compare amazing Chereau with someone like Castorf”? and why not? just because you have a different opinion, or don’t like aesthetics or don’t understand, doesn’t make it in anyway less valuable nor important. Castorf is in theatrical world recognised as one of the major stage directors, that’s a fact and can he be compared to anyone (comparison does not mean equating)
            Castorf’s Ring is one of the most important and relevant productions of the piece since Chereau and Kupfer (all of which have been btw produced at Bayreuth)
            Btw. Petrenko conducted Ring for three years, which had nothing to do with the production. on the contrary he was quite a supporter of it.

  • Sylvie Raileanu says:

    Sitting through the antu Amerikan Castorf (cast off) was a nighmare.. torture… the alter ego of Wotan.. that Turkish mime serving omlettes in his street trailer and over acting to our distraction was pure eccessive directorial arrogance. Leave out the Motel rhintochter prostitutes … zzzzzzzzzz I cry for Wagner and his holy art…

    • Bogda says:

      Anti American? – you clearly have no clue what you’ve seen
      Alter ego if Wotan?!? – that would be Alberich, but I guess you didn’t get that from Schenk production
      Turkish mime? – so you are even a racist (and btw. He is not turkish)

      • sylvie raileanu says:

        Nein, nein .. you are a Kommunist!!!
        The satage director wrote in der programme that the mime actor was intended to be the alter-ego of Wotan.
        Did you not see him always on stage with Wotan ??????

        I read his bio, the mime actor .. not MIME of Wagner …. i meant the pantomime actor who does not speak.. you read all wrong.. I mustwrite to you in German…..

        I stated that the Met rpoductions are bad, so why do you attack me here??? I stated that Levine protected the music and his interests, and invited no great stage directors, and set the Met back 200 years… a disgustful shame for the Met Board (Bored) of Direktors…..

        • Bogda says:

          Being communist is completely irrelevant to this discussion (though if you are interested I’m not one)
          Well, as we’ve learned so far, Castorf can say many things to distract, but as I’ve seen Castorf’s Ring four times in Bayreuth and met many artists, including Patric Seibert (the ‘mime’) I can assure you that he is performing many different roles in this production, his main goal is not to be Wotan’s alter ego. He is clearly not always on stage with Wotan as for example he is present the whole Gotterdammerung almost constantly and there is no Wotan there.
          I was referring to the fact in which you responded to this Ring production which was clearly in line with typical accusations against Regietheater, – nightmare, torture, directorial arrogance, prostitutes etc. Clearly without trying to understand the production, but dismissing it only based on visuals.
          You call it antiAmerican when the whole Castorf’s Ring is primarily about Germany and has almost nothing to do with America per se (design of Rheingold, does not mean its about america as such).