Reports: Wagner heir is pulled lifeless from river

Reports: Wagner heir is pulled lifeless from river


norman lebrecht

September 04, 2021

German media are sharing the shocking news that Eva Wagner-Pasquier, 76, former joint director of the Bayreuth Festival, was taken lifeless today out of the Isar River.

A former artistic adviser at Covent Garden and the Bastille Opera, Wagner-Pasquier shared the leadership of Bayreuth with her half-sister Katharina from 2008 to 2015.

It is reported that she received resuscitation on the river bank and was rushed to hospital, where she is in a coma.





  • Michael says:

    “Lifeless” in English normally means dead or apparently dead. The similar German word “leblos” used in the piece you linked to can mean lifeless or unconscious. Like most readers I guess, I assumed sadly from your post heading that she was actually dead whereas it seems she is not, as she is – at the time of writing – alive, but comatose. Let’s hope she makes a full recovery.

    • Meal says:

      The heading is correct. According to newspaper reports she had to be resucitated ( So she was
      However, it is not the time to argue about wordings. I just hope that she survives and will be well again soon.

    • Paul Dawson says:

      Thanks for that. Vaguely a propos, few actions in an opera house infuriate me as much as Kundry being left alive at the end of Parsifal.

      My nearest to hand copy of the stage direction (the Karajan LPs) is “Kundry sinkt, mit dem Blicke zu ihm auf, langsam vor Parsifal enseelt zu Boden.”

      The English translation includes “lifeless” but this doesn’t seem to be embedded in the German. Is her survival legitimate?

      • Vance Koven says:

        I think you meant to write “entseelt,” which in addition to its literal meaning of “de-souled” or suchlike, is a synonym for leblos, lifeless. But that still doesn’t resolve the argument, any more than whether Jack Point is dead at the end of Yeomen of the Guard.

        • Steve B says:

          Correction – Jack Point falls “insensible”. But yes, the debate still goes on.

        • Paul Dawson says:

          Thank you. Apologies for the typo – reading glasses to be replaced this week. Perhaps my dogmatic insistence on death is misplaced, although it seems to me that both the music at that point and the narrative overall call for it. Death is surely the obvious redemption for some cursed to eternal life.

        • Tamino says:

          not correct. ‘entseelt’ is not a synonym for lifeless. ‘Entseelt’ means the soul left the body. Known as death under any spiritually inspired looks at life and death.

      • Tamino says:

        ‘entseelt zu Boden sinken’ is simply a synonyme for dying. For the soul leaving the body.

    • Jonathan Sutherland says:

      Michael is correct.
      Bavarian newspaper reports state that she is at present unconscious but not dead.
      There is also the interesting comment from Otto Lapp in Der Kurier that she frequently walked along the Isar which was close to her home in Munich.
      Even more relevant is the fact that her eyesight had deteriorated to such a point she was virtually blind.
      The rather sensational insinuation that she committed suicide should be balanced with the likelihood that due to extremely poor vision, she simply fell into the river.
      ‘Einen Unfall oder einen Suizid-Versuch’ will be determined in the unfortunate event Madame Wagner-Pasquier is indeed destined for Valhalla.

  • CRogers says:

    A truer and better headline, for me, would have been: WAGNER HEIR IN COMA. Very unfortunately it’s quite easy for any person/journalist to become corrupted and sensationalise, distort, mislead, etc. Sometimes unintentionally but mostly deliberately, and as a consequence, I feel cheated.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      “Bild” is the most horrid sensationalist tabloid in Germany. They will always go for the loudest headline. Don’t take their headlines seriously. Or the entire paper.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Poorly worded headline

  • Rob Keeley says:

    Maybe she saw something gold, glittering and suspiciously circular in the river and tried to retrieve it. Wrong river, dear!

  • Gustavo says:

    Finding her in the river Rhine would have been more dramatic.

  • Paul Barte says:

    This news is clearly from a tabloid-type newspaper and is designed to sensationalize. Wishing her a speedy recovery!

  • Imbrod says:

    This article has been circulating since yesterday so she was not pulled from the river today, but probably last “sontag.”

    • Brettermeier says:


      One word. And you managed to screw that up. How gênant.

      • Brettermeier says:

        What. Nobody forced him to use a foreign word he didn’t know how to write. TWO mistakes in ONE word, come on… I expect at least some basic effort if someone gives in to the urge to show off.

  • Gustavo says:

    She almost created a Ludwig-II-myth.

    Keep an eye on those “doctors”!

  • Rob says:

    Hope she makes a quick recovery. If it was me, I would want the opening of Das Rheingold being played as I open my eyes.

  • fflambeau says:

    Poetic justice rendered by the river gods?