Breaking: Katherina Wagner, seriously ill, leaves Bayreuth job

Breaking: Katherina Wagner, seriously ill, leaves Bayreuth job


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2020

The Bayreuth Festival has announced that Katharina Wagner has a longterm illness and cannot continue as director ‘until further notice’.

The operation of the festival will be undertaken by an interim management.

This is all they are saying at the moment.

We wish Katharina a full recovery.

Full statement: Katharina Wagner sei längerfristig erkrankt und kann ihr Amt als Leiterin der Bayreuther Festspiele “bis auf weiteres” nicht ausüben, teilten die Festspiele am Montag mit. Der Betrieb der Festspiele wird durch eine Übergangslösung weiterhin gesichert.

UPDATE: Katharina Wagner, 42, became co-director of the festival in 2008 with her half-sister Eva Wagner-Pasquier, as successors to their father, Wolfgang Wagner. Katharina has been in sole charge since 2015. Her contract was recently extended to 2025.

It is understood that she is to be replaced in her absence by the former commercial director, Heinz-Dieter Sense, alongside the managing director, Holger von Berg.

UPDATE: For the first time, there is no Wagner in charge at Bayreuth


  • We privatize your value says:

    Werden Sie wieder gesund, Frau Wagner!

  • John Rook says:

    This is not good news. Katharina has never had it easy and maybe this is a manisfestation of all that turbulence. I wish her a full and speedy recovery.

  • Jonathan Sutherland says:

    The 2014 agreement between the Richard Wagner Foundation and Bayreuther Festspiele GmbH stipulates that a member of the Wagner family will be in charge of the Festival until 2040.
    In the unfortunate event of Katharina Wagner’s permanent indisposition, the most obvious candidate to replace her would be previously banished half-sister Eva Wagner-Pasquier who is currently an Artistic Adviser to the Met. Nike Wagner could be another contender but at the age of 74 and given the Ortrud-like enmity of her legal action against the family in 2016, may be less than ideal. The interest of Wolfgang Wagner’s off-spring Gottfried Wagner, Antoine Amadeus Wagner-Pasquier or Eugenio Wagner in taking the reins is unknown. It would appear that Götterdämmerung could be coming early to the Grüner Hügel this year.

  • fflambeau says:

    Richard Wagner himself was a horrible businessman (and person) (bill collectors were ever after him). Why would anyone look to his descendants for business acumen?

    Moreover, his music is overly long and has become passe. Or, boring.

    My guess is that the “foundation” will be looking for a government bailout.

    • sycorax says:

      Nope. I certainly don’t think Wagner was a bad businessman. Just on the contrary! He managed to get enough money to build an opera house – a bad business man wouldn’t have managed that.
      The reason for his financial troubles was in no way his lack of business sense, but his “need” for luxury like silken knickners and always the best food and expansive furniture.