Thielemann’s Bayreuth contract expires next week

Thielemann’s Bayreuth contract expires next week


norman lebrecht

December 24, 2020

There is much speculation in German media today as to whether Christian Thielemann will remain music director of the Bayreuth Festival after his contract expires at the end of this month.

Bayreuth say they want him to stay. Thielemann says nothing.

‘The Bayreuth Festival intends to sign a new contract with Christian Thielemann,’a festival spokesman said yesterday. ‘His duties and title are still being clarified.’


  • After more than 25 years ( he worked there already in the 90 s) maybe it s the moment to leave the institution after the big sucess of Tristan.

    • Kenny says:

      I believe he played the rehearsals of the 1981 Barenboim/Ponnelle Tristan — without music. (At least DB said that once in my hearing.) He was born same day as I was, so I know he would have been 22 then, which sounds right.

      • Maybe for Thielmann it would be interisting to work outside of Germany and Austria. it would be interisting to see him working at La Scala the Met or Covent. Or to make more classical with some other orchestras.

        • SC says:

          He will never work at the Met again, after trying to dictate casting changes in Frau ohne Schatten and being told to sod off and pay attention to his contractual duties.

          • Nick2 says:

            That sounds rather like Carlos Kleiber’s famous cancellation of the Stuttgart Wozzeck at the Edinburgh Festival. It was alleged at the time that this was due to illness but later confirmed that he disliked the casting of the tenor Gerhard Stolze in the baritone lead role and Irmgard Seefried as Marie and left Edinburgh on the day of the performance. Despite his reservations, though, he had by then conducted several performances as a guest in Stuttgart and one in Edinburgh.

            On the other hand, I think Kleiber had had no say in the casting of Stolze and Seefried. Would not a conductor like Thielemann nowadays be consulted on casting by the Met before agreeing to a contract?

    • Tom Phillips says:

      And who is a finer Wagner conductor today? No one that I’m aware of.

  • RW2013 says:

    I’d be more worried about the contract of the lady in the blue dress.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Believe me: ater 2020 the people in charge of her contract would be delighted to renew it! Heck, *I* would be delighted, and I never even voted for her. Alas, she doesn’t seem to be interested in adding four more years to it…

  • Gustavo says:

    Stefan Mickisch for Artistic Director!

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Am I reading some Schadenfreude into the headline?

    • Fernandel says:

      Don’t tell anybody about this, but Norman is dying to see Christian Thielemann replaced by Marc Minkowski or Joana Mallwitz.

  • Chicagorat says:

    Make Muti Bayreuth Music Director. He will show the Germans how to do Wagner, the same way he has taught them how to do Beethoven.

    (Liebe deutsche Freunde, ich bin sarkastisch)

    • Good idea. But maybe like Haitink and Abbado he refused because there is not enough time or liberty there. Because of what happened in the 80s to Solti in Bayreuth

      • Burnham says:

        As good of an idea as having a heart attack.

        Though wait, it could be a cunning Salzburg’s trojan horse to undermine one of the few truly German cultural institutions left.

        The thought has some merit after all.

        • CSOA insider says:

          Y’all have it dead wrong. Maestro harbors only contempt for Bayreuth (yes, also because he really does not get Wagner, meaning his Wagner is feeble). The only question in his mind right now is: when he gets to Vienna to rehearse for the New Year, will he get the same level of top-of-the-line “room service” that he got on his last tour, courtesy of the Protector of Man? It will be hard as he is sort of a freelancer on this one, so no perks. Let’s get back on this in a few days …

          • Lothario Hunter says:

            Encourage the Protector of Man to call Stonecipher for advice. He can offer valuable lessons and list pitfalls to avoid.

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            That’s what I really do miss about not being a classical musician; the bitchiness and nasty gossip that swirls around it all the time!!

            Bet you, hand on heart, they’d all swear they were compassionate lefties too. Really they would.

          • CSOA Insider says:

            Fair game when the individuals in question position themselves as moral authorities, under false pretenses, enabled by sympathetic press. The chickens have come home to roost.

        • Tom Phillips says:

          Given the particular history of Bayreuth, your “truly German” quote leaves a particularly bitter aftertaste, whether intentional or not.