Saturday, August 29, 2015

Lucerne Festival: Radio, TV, and Internet Stream


Both huge summer festivals in Bayreuth and Salzburg close their curtains this weekend. It's been in general a very good-spirited festival season with Bayreuth's new Tristan and Salzburg's Fidelio with Jonas Kaufmann attracting a lot of media attention. Also highly publicized on the media is the restaging of Il Trovatore, just as other Anna Netrebko's performance in Salzburg every single year.


For those who couldn't get enough of the festival hype this summer, turn your head to Lucerne. The ongoing festival offers a lot of interesting concerts like every other year: the opening concert with Lucerne Festival Orchestra under the baton of Bernard Haitink and another two concerts with Andris Nelsons (one of them in arte). The concerts of guest orchestras like Koninklijke Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam (Daniel Harding), Berliner Philharmoniker (Simon Rattle) and Boston Symphony Orchestra (Andris Nelsons) will also be recorded and broadcasted by SRF2 and arte. The official list of the all the transmissions can be viewed here.


Also an exciting news for 2016: Riccardo Chailly has been appointed as Abbado's predecessor to lead Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" is planned to open the festival in summer 2016.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Götterdämmerung - Bayreuther Festspiele 2015


The final day. The temperature reached its highest point and my stamina its lowest. The brain felt a little numb after three nights of messed up Ring world created by Castorf.
The stage has (once again) two sides that constantly spin: a donner stall in Kreuzberg-Berlin and a building wrapped in huge white cloth ala Christo & Jeanne-Claude (which reminded people of Reichstag in Berlin), later revealed as New York Stock Exchange in the final act. Spoiler alert: Brünnhilde didn't throw herself to Siegfried's funeral pile, she went to the side of stage after giving the Ring to the Rhine's Daughters, who threw it into the fire. Hagen stared the scene desperately. Another video montage. Fin. 


Overall the production on its final night was much better (especially than Siegfried). There were still a lot of throwing stuffs, but the sound was somehow less distorted by it. The main focus was the drama and the original story. But in incoherent settings and staging. Good job, Castorf.


Stefan Vinke triumphed once again as a very charismatic Siegfried. Thank God he'll come back next year. His youthful voice and energy on stage should grace Bayreuth for many summers to come.
Catherine Foster is simply perfect, her range of vocal expression is complete in every sense. A very moving final monologue.
Stephen Milling got the loudest applause that night. His Hagen sounded braver and smoother than others, less of a villain and more of a storyteller in my opinion.
The rest of the cast is excellent, Bayreuth standard.


Conclusion: The whole Castorf-Ring has the potential to be cult, but its realization in details is way too off the mainstream. Beside, Castorf got his own idea and story line that he injected to the Ring, made the production sometimes quite unbearable to see and at the same time quite impossible to be understood without attending the introduction presentation earlier in the afternoon. Kirill Petrenko's intepretation after the whole 3 summers is almost legendary - it sure is a great point in his resume before starting his duty in Berlin in 2018. The cast this year is also strong, arguably improved from last year. Hopefully the musical interpretation stays exceptional under the baton of Marek Janowski next year.
AnAleksandar Denić stays a true winner. 







Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bayreuther Festspiele: Cast Announcement & Future Productions

2016 


PARSIFAL

Musikalische Leitung: Andris Nelsons
Regie: Uwe Eric Laufenberg
Bühne: Gisbert Jäkel
Kostüm: Jessica Karge
Licht: Reinhard Traub
Chorleitung: Eberhard Friedrich

Amfortas: Ryan McKinny
Titurel: N.N.
Gurnemanz: Georg Zeppenfeld
Parsifal: Klaus Florian Vogt
Klingsor: Gerd Grochowski
Kundry: Elena Pankratova
1. Gralsritter: Tansel Akzeybek
2. Gralsritter: Timo Riihonen
1. Knappe: Alexandra Steiner
2. Knappe: Mareike Morr
3. Knappe: Charles Kim
4. Knappe: Stefan Heibach
Klingsors Zaubermädchen: Netta Or
                                           Katharina Persicke
                                           Mareike Morr
                                           Alexandra Steiner
                                           Bele Kumberger
                                           Ingeborg Gillebo
Eine Altstimme: Wiebke Lehmkuhl



DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN

Musikalische Leitung: Marek Janowski
Inszenierung: Frank Castorf
Bühne: Aleksandar Denić
Kostüm: Adriana Braga Peretzki
Licht: Rainer Casper
Video: Andreas Deinert, Jens Crull
Chorleitung: Eberhard Friedrich

DAS RHEINGOLD

Wotan: Iain Paterson
Donner: Markus Eiche
Froh: Tansel Akzeybek
Loge: Roberto Saccà
Fricka: Sarah Connolly
Freia: Caroline Wenborne
Erda: Nadine Weissmann
Alberich: Albert Dohmen
Mime: Andreas Conrad
Fasolt: Andreas Hörl
Fafner: N.N.
Woglinde: Alexandra Steiner
Wellgunde: Stephanie Houtzeel
Floßhilde: Wiebke Lehmkuhl

DIE WALKÜRE

Siegmund: Christopher Ventris
Hunding: Andreas Hörl
Wotan: John Lundgren
Sieglinde: Jennifer Wilson
Brünnhilde: Catherine Foster
Fricka: Sarah Connolly
Gerhilde: Caroline Wenborne
Ortlinde: Dara Hobbs
Waltraute: Stephanie Houtzeel
Schwertleite: Nadine Weissmann
Helmwige: Christiane Kohl
Siegrune: Simone Schröder
Grimgerde: Wiebke Lehmkuhl
Roßweiße: Alexandra Petersamer

SIEGFRIED

Siegfried: Stefan Vinke
Mime: Andreas Conrad
Der Wanderer: Thomas J. Mayer
Alberich: Albert Dohmen
Fafner: N.N.
Erda: Nadine Weissmann
Brünnhilde: Catherine Foster
Waldvogel: Ana Durlovski

GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG

Siegfried: Stefan Vinke
Gunther: Markus Eiche
Alberich: Albert Dohmen
Hagen: Stephen Milling
Brünnhilde: Catherine Foster
Gutrune: Allison Oakes
Waltraute: Marina Prudenskaya
1. Norn: Wiebke Lehmkuhl
2. Norn: Stephanie Houtzeel
3. Norn: Christiane Kohl
Woglinde: Alexandra Steiner
Wellgunde: Stephanie Houtzeel
Floßhilde: Wiebke Lehmkuhl



DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER

Musikalische Leitung: Axel Kober
Inszenierung: Jan Philipp Gloger
Bühne: Christof Hetzer
Kostüm: Karin Jud
Licht: Urs Schönebaum
Video: Martin Eidenberger
Dramaturgie: Sophie Becker
Chorleitung: Eberhard Friedrich

Daland: Peter Rose
Senta: Ricarda Merbeth
Erik: N.N.
Mary: Christa Mayer
Der Steuermann: Benjamin Bruns
Der Holländer: John Lundgren



TRISTAN UND ISOLDE

Musikalische Leitung: Christian Thielemann
Inszenierung: Katharina Wagner
Bühne: Frank Philipp Schlößmann
            Matthias Lippert
Kostüm: Thomas Kaiser
Licht: Reinhard Traub
Dramaturgie: Daniel Weber
Chorleitung: Eberhard Friedrich

Tristan: Stephen Gould
König Marke: Georg Zeppenfeld
Isolde: Petra Lang
Kurwenal: Iain Paterson
Melot: Raimund Nolte
Brangäne: Christa Mayer
Ein Hirt: Tansel Akzeybek
Ein Steuermann: Kay Stiefermann
Junger Seemann: Tansel Akzeybek

Comments to the cast of 2016: 
Parsifal, our new production next year, definitely got a very solid cast on its belt. Particularly Klaus Florian Vogt & Georg Zeppenfeld, who are already festival's darlings. Klaus Florian Vogt should be able to sing this role with closed eyes (ears?), but it's still going to be very interesting to hear his voice and see his presence on stage in Festspielhaus as Parsifal for the first time after so many years as Lohengrin. Uwe Eric Laufenberg's production will be very actual, it revolves around the question of religion - how we handle the religion in our time, how much religion do we need nowadays etc. - you know, the stuffs you would observe with such a deep opera like Parsifal. I'm also very excited for Andris Nelsons- it's good that he'll take one summer off from Tanglewood next year, Bayreuth needs him. 
Der Ring des Nibelungen got a new conductor, Marek Janowski, and three new diffrent Wotans for each night. Our Siegmund & Sieglinde of this summer - Johan Botha and Anja Kampe - are out, Christopher Wilson & Jennifer Wilson are in.
Also interesting: Der fliegende Holländer got a new Holländer: John Lundgren. Peter Rose is Daland, while Ricarda Merbeth stays as Senta. Axel Kober, just as the case this summer, will conduct.
Tristan und Isolde will be conducted by Christian Thielemann again. Petra Lang, the new Isolde, will replace Evelyn Herlitizius, who won't be available for Bayreuth next summer. The rest of the case stays the same. I'm actually not very sure if Petra Lang is the right Isolde for this production. The reason why Evelyn Herlitzius couldn't be the "perfect" Isolde this year is because she doesn't fit vocally to the character of Isolde and I see that Petra Lang is actually quite on the same page of Isolde interpretation with her. It should've been Anja Kampe. Very depressing. 

Since there's no official announcement for further years, I gathered these informations from many sources. They're not official yet, I'm sure there will be many surprising changes... but if Netrebko is really going to sing Elsa in 2018, then there's indeed a Wagner-god somewhere. 




2017

New production:
Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Conductor: Philippe Jordan 
Director: Barrie Kosky
Cast:
Hans Sachs: Michael Volle
Eva: Krassimira Stoyanova 
Walther von Stolzing: Klaus Florian Vogt 
Sixtus Beckmesser: Johannes Martin Kränzle


Der Ring des Nibelungen

Tristan und Isolde
Parsifal

2018

New production: 
Lohengrin
Conductor:  Christian Thielemann 
Director: Alvis Hermanis 
Stage design: Neo Rauch
Cast:
Lohengrin: Roberto Alagna or Piotr Beczala
Elsa: Anna Netrebko 
Ortrud: Waltraud Meier 

Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Parsifal
Tristan und Isolde
Der fliegende Holländer (last run)




2019

Tannhäuser 
Director: Tobias Kratzer

Tristan und Isolde (last run)

Parsifal (last run)
Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Lohengrin

2020

New production:
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Conductor: Christian Thielemann

Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Lohengrin
Tannhäuser 


2021 

No new production

Der Ring des Nibelungen
Meistersinger von Nürnberg (last run)
Lohengrin
Tannhäuser 

Siegfried - Bayreuther Festspiele 2015


Oh no... What would an anarchist do after one night of being celebrated as a "conservative, brilliant" director that "stayed loyal" to the work of composer without doing any harmful stage direction to distract the audience from the wonderful music? He would do the exact opposite on the following night. Yeah... I've seen a lot of Castorf's production in Berlin. But this one is quite hard to swallow.
Yes, you could leave the whole dragon thing outside of the production. Yes, you could dress the Waldvogel as a woman from CSD stret parade, having a little sexy time with Siegfried. Yes, you could put (this year four) crocodiles on stage during Brünnhilde & Siegfried's duet. Yes, you could have two sets that have nothing to do with each other on the visual level and just spin them around as the scene (not the act) changes. Yes, I could tolerate all those things, which actually were huge problems for so many people of the audience. What I hate is the disrespectful direction on stage which requires the singers to throw beach chairs, flip tables, or smash things in a constant manner throughout the whole evening without any necessity or whatsoever to the story. It's simply a useless distraction of the music. Not to mention Castorf's placing of the singers in such hidden position on stage, more or less minimizing the vocal quality heard by the audience. With that being said, I think we got a rather bad production that intended to be on the Volksbuhne level. Boos after second act, mega boos after third act with some bravos. Castorf is definitely happy about this.



Prost to Aleksandar Denić and his stage. A socialist Mount Rushmore and a semi-replica of Alexanderplatz in Berlin on the other side. Very realistic, very awesome concept. For a second or two, it really gave me the feeling of awe I've never felt towards any stage designs before. 




Stefan Vinke, replacing Lance Ryan this summer, is brilliant as Siegfried. Definitely on top of my list with Andreas Schager. He is charismatic on stage, his voice is loud and strong, fulfilling the standard for the rebel character Siegfried itself. The character of his voice is so young and lively, unlike Lance Ryan (who's rather flat). Castorf must be very happy for getting a Siegfried, who's willing to do anything on stage. 
Our Brünnhilde, Catherine Foster, just as the previous night, did a very great job. A very wide emotion range and vocal strength was displayed during the final scene of third act.
Mirella Hagen is very dramatic as Waldvogel. 
Andreas Conrad as Mime gives a very delightful performance as a character tenor in top form. Effortlessly he jumped from the lower notes to "hihihi" in high notes, while displaying very lively actions on stage.
Wolfgang Koch & Albert Dohmen were amazing. Bravos for all.

Kiril Petrenko for the win. His skills were on full display in many scenes, such as in Siegfried's monologue, Waldvogel scene, or final of third act with Siegfried and Brünnhilde. Full gas in instrumental passages, sounded so grand and whole. It's true what many say, his conducting is getting rounder and grander in its third summer.

Resume: Production not for the faint-hearted, but the music is top. 


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Die Walküre - Bayreuther Festspiele 2015



A conservative production: behind all the frenzy, oil motive stroyline, and Aleksandar Denić's amazing stage of an oil drilling tower set in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, Castorf's second opera of the Ring is actually a very conservative production. No stupid or funny or exaggerated stage direction for the singers or supernumeraries. 



The first act. Sieglinde found Siegfried. Hunding came. Some actions on stage are shot by cameras and projected to a an integrated white fabric on a stage's side. The love couple sang their love duet, confessed their love in front of a barn (?), in which Siegmund pulled out Nothung from an unclear object (my seat is definitely not the best in the house). 


The second act offers nothing new. Castorf seemed to concentrate on the main story and the interaction between the characters. Beside Fricka wearing a semi-burka and the high oil drilling tower finally revealed in all its glory, there's nothing new here.



In the third act, a drilling rig came to play: a fancy toy on stage without meaning or use or coherency to the Wotan monologue. Brünnhilde didn't leave Wotan, she went to sleep in the house/workshop/oil workshop/whatever while Wotan created a fire ring on top of an oil barrel. The end. 

Johan Botha and Anja Kampe as the love couple gave a very strong performance, which is no surprise at all, they've interpreted these roles in many big houses worldwide for the last decade. Botha, due to his body size, seemed unfit in Castorf's energetic and active choreography of the singers. But I guess it's secondary.
Kwangchul Youn has interpreted Hunding for so many times in Bayreuth, he doesn't need a review or feedback anymore. Very brilliant, as usual & always. 

Wolfgang Koch was amazing. Charismatic voice, mild but declarative in his final monologue. 
Catherine Foster is definitely one of the best Brünnhilde of our time. Between Evelyn Herlitizius and Irene Theorin, I could see her as the fittest for the production. The voice was great, the stage presence was very strong. Castorf's direction sometimes made her less of the usual Brünnhilde we know of; less fierce, more like an oppressed daughter of Wotan. 



Claudia Mahnke was our Fricka and Waltraute. Along with the others Valkyries, she has done a great job. All the Valkyries sang in harmony, with some minor flaws in the tempo. But if you see the complex action they should do on stage, you'll tolerate that.

Kirill Petrenko is just great. All the tempo, all the romantic scenes between Siegmund-Sieglinde & Wotan-Brünnhilde, all are calculated. He could really play with silence and ecstatic part (Walkürentritt/ Ride of the Valkyries) of the score very well indeed.

Resume: big opera night, Castorf is unusually mild, bravo to all.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Das Rheingold - Bayreuther Festspiele 2015


A dream came true: I'm able to see Frank Castorf's infamous Ring in its third year run. I'm a fan of most Castorf's productions in Volksbuhne Berlin, so I had high hopes for his in Bayreuth.

A motel by route 66 as Walhall? A strange choice at first thought, but it seems Castorf didn't really get caught up in that thought. Per usual: the weirder the set, the better. Mesmerizing enough, he could have taken a crazy way, interpreting each character in the opera in very obnoxious ways that we can't recognize them anymore, given that his setting of storytelling is weird enough already. Instead of doing that, he constantly portrayed the gods as weak humans: unfaithful, greedy, low-class Texan mini gangster family. The Rheintochter: prostitutes. Alberich/Mime: LGBT supporting(?) petty criminals living in RV. The giants as gangster/assembly workers/unclear. Despite these unclear basic backgrounds of these characters, I very much enjoyed his consistent trashy, rude, "egalitarian" interpretation of the protagonists.


A huge LED screen was placed above the motel, giving more insight of parallel actions to the audience.
The "Golden Motel" building has 3 sides: the above ground pool in the backyard (where Alberich took the Rheingold from the Rheintochter), the convenient store/petrol station, where all the crazy things happen, and the front door/Wotan's bedroom, where the both negotiation  scenes between Wotan and Fasolt/Fafner happened.

Wolfgang Koch is impressive as Wotan, both in the vocal and acting department.
Albert Dohmen, a new Alberich for this year's run, seemed a little unfit for the role, that Castorf originally designed in 2013 for a much younger singer, Martin Winkler. No complain for his voice.
John Daszak as Loge was also a highlight of the night.
The rest of the cast are very solid and definitely fulfilled the Bayreuth standard, but nothing spectacular.

A director assistant of Castorf, Patric Seibert plays a statist role in the whole Ring production. In Rheingold, he portrayed the patrol attendant/motel waiter that constantly being bullied by the protagonists. Know more about him & his important role in Castorf's Ring as a disruptive factor here.



A few boos after the curtain closed - way lesser than as reported last summer. Castorf's Ring is really on its way becoming the next cult production after Neuenfels' "Rat-Lohengrin".
Petrenko was loudly cheered, probably for both: his conducting and his coming-soon reign in Berlin.
I'm very excited for the next three nights!!!

Review: Tristan und Isolde - Bayreuther Festspiele 2015

(This review is based on the live cinema broadcast on 7th August 2015)

A special occasion on the Green Hill: this year Richard Wagner's opera "Tristan und Isolde" celebrates the 150 year-anniversary of its premier in Munich. A reason strong enough to pick the opera as the new production of this year's Bayreuther Festspiele. And even more special: Wagner's great granddaughter & festival intendant, Katharina Wagner, is in charge of the staging.

Simply an improvement: many were quite disappointed with Katharina's interpretation of "Mesitersinger" seven years ago. The staging was constantly booed during its first summer run, it got better during the following summers, but the public and critics agree that it's not a brilliant production. This year's "Tristan und Isolde" under her direction might give a fresh wind to her reputation as a stage director. In many interviews she stated that the work for Tristan already started since about 5 years ago and the production is built upon an intensive collaboration with Christian Thielemann.


Act one. Tristan & Isolde were trapped in a dark surreal world of stairs. The stairs lead to nowhere, they can't find each other. Christa Mayer's very expressive Brangane has probably a little psychosis in her past. More stairs were broken or tear apart by Kurwenal. Isolde was longing to see Trsitan. Brangane & Kurwenal worsened the situation. Tristan & Isolde didn't drink the "Liebestrank" (love potion), in a grand gesture they poured it upon their holding hands.



Act two. No romantic garden but a torture chamber. King Marke and Melot observed the love couple from the upper balcony of the stage. It looked a little bit silly while both our main characters built a small fabric tent and hung a star-shaped Christmas ornament. The most unromantic 'Liebesnacht' I've ever seen. Georg Zeppenfeld appeared in yellow 1920's gangster suit with fur, delivering his solo monologue in a charismatic manner.



Act three. Darkness. Kurwenal & co. sat around Tristan's body lying on the floor. Tristan woke up. In the vast darkness he saw different distorted visions of Isolde, appeared before him in a triangle room, a motive that dominates the whole production. Isolde arrived, Tristan died. While giving the closing monologue "Mild und leise" (Isolde's Liebestod), Isolde held Tristan's dead body - both sitting on his deathbed facing the audience. Isolde's mind and soul is out of world. King Marke smirked, then held Isolde's hand, dragging her away from Tristan's deathbed. La fin.

Stephen Gould is definitely the, or one of the, leading Tristan of our time. With every single note perfectly sung and the optimal voice strength held through the night, it's hard to point out any flaw of his interpretation. Although some parts during 'Liebesnacht' were sung quite in a static, emotionless manner, I honestly wouldn't elaborate it.

Evelyn Herlitzius, who bravely agreed to replace Anja Kampe 4 weeks before the premiere, has made a magnificent improvement in the past 2 weeks. Compared to her performance during the premiere (that I heard live through BR Klassik), her enunciation is definitely much better. As usual, Herlitizus digs deep into her role and gave a very expressive Isolde.  The main problem with Herlitizus is actually the character of her voice that I personally feel doesn't really fit for the role of Isolde. She is definitely the ultimate Elektra, Salome, and Ortrud, but Isolde?


Both Georg Zeppenfeld and Christa Mayer gave outstanding performances in their roles. Their singing is very expressive and the pronunciation is very clear. Not to mention that Katharina's staging also give a new exciting dimension towards the interpretation of both characters.

Iain Paterson gave a very convincing Kurwenal, both vocally and theatrically.

Both Raimund Nolte as Melot and Tansel Akzeybek as Young Seeman are solid addition to the cast, even though their voices are not necessarily specific for "Wagner Fach".

Thielemann's conducting is everything. It's way more precious than diamonds or gold. Every single note, tempo, and pause is precisely calculated. Now he should make another Tristan recording, definitely a way better one than his previous recording in Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) in 2004.

Summary: The production is neutral. Theielmann is a god in Bayreuth. The cast is superb with a small room of improvements.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Live Stream: Le Nozze di Figaro in Salzburg


Sven-Eric Bechtolf's Mozart-Da Ponte cycle ends this year with "Le Nozze di Figaro", this time without Christoph Eschenbach. Probably due to the lukewarm reception of the two previous productions, he has decided to resign from the trilogy project and the GMD of Nationaltheater Mannheim & Stuttgarter Philharmoniker Dan Ettinger stepped in as replacement.
Luca Pisaroni will sing the role of Count Almaviva - instead of his internationally renowned parade role: Figaro. The Figaro of this year's production is Adam Plachetka. Anett Fritsch is Countess Almaviva, Martina Janková is Susanna. The rest of the cast consists of superb young singers, who have sung the suporting roles in many international houses.
This Sunday, August 9th 2015 at 17:55 (CET) you can see the live stream of this production on Servus TV and CLASSICA. On 16th August 2015 there will also be a relay on Servus TV at 8:15 (CET). Based on my experience last year, both the German and international viewers could access the Servus live stream through their website, of course for free. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"O welche Lust": Fidelio from Salzburg


Highlight of the festival by Salzach: Salzburger Festspiele broadcasts the new Claus Guth's production of Beethoven's "Fidelio" live on 13th August 2015 at 20.15 (CET) on ORF2 & Classica. At the same time Medici.tv also provides a live stream for free through their website, but only for viewers outside of Germany. Also a delayed broadcast on the 22nd of August at 20.15 (CET) on 3sat.
With Jonas Kaufmann & Adrianne Pieczonka on the main roles, this event is already guaranteed to be this year's festival highlight. Wiener Philharmoniker play under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst. Claus Guth promised an interesting and unconventional interpretation of the freedom opera.
The audio recording from the premiere is available for a limited time here.
Auf deutsch: Jonas Kaufmann's interview about his new Puccini album, revisiting the role of Florestan and the current Salzburger production here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bayreuther Festspiele 2016: Advance Ticket Sale Starts NOW!


One day before the festival's opening, Bayreuther Festspiele has announced the complete cast (with some exceptions like Isolde or Kundry) for all of next year's productions, including the new Parsifal under the production of Uwe Eric Laufenberg and dirigent Andris Nelsons with Klaus Florian Vogt on the title role. Starting yesterday, you can already order your tickets for next year through order form. Here is the complete 2016 schedule as posted by festspieleblog.de. Before 15th January 2016, you should know if your ticket order succeed or not. If not, then the internet ticket sale, starting on 31st January 2016, will be your second hope.
Further information from official site click here.

Controversy in Bayreuth, 2015 Edition



Unlike the usual: up until June this year, the current Bayreuth Festival would've seemed to be quite a 'peaceful' festival season. Many people waited eagerly for the new Tristan production from Katharina Wagner, which many consider as a determining production for the future of this renowned festival. Some, who were still 'traumatized' by her Meistersinger production (pictured above), were also ready to throw the rotten tomatoes to the stage if the worst case scenario would've applied.
But the real storm suddenly came and fans suddenly recognized, here comes the Bayreuth we know... It's a fact: behind the calm and peaceful surrounding of the Festspielhaus, the Bayreuth Festival is not your usual opera house and untiringly serves the public and fans huge controversy year after year. Here's the chronology this year:

In the first week of June the whole cast for all current productions were announced. This followed the Tristan cast announcement already made in February. Never before the public had to wait so long for the announcement. One month before the opening, unbeliveable.
A few days later, many print medias, started by a report on Süddeutsche Zeitung, suddenly wrote about (one half of the festival intendant alongside Katharina W.) Eva Wagner-Pasquier's ban from the Green Hill. The reason for the ban is said to be Christian Thielemann, who experienced some artistic conflict with the soon-departing festival intendant. This conflict became public through the statements of Peter Raue, Eva Wagner's lawyer. No official response from the festival. 
During the following week, Daniel Barenboim, who reigned in Bayreuth throughout the 80's and 90's, and Kirill Petrenko, the conductor of the current Ring production, criticized this ban. Petrenko also criticized the replacement of Lance Ryan with tenor Stefan Vinke on the role of Siegfried. Both Ryan & Wagner-Pasquier are according to Petrenko vital to his successful interpretation of the Ring during the past two summers.  



The big day: On the 22nd of June the Berliner Philharmoniker announced Kirill Petrenko as their upcoming principal conductor. Thielemann, an old friend of the orchestra and Karajan's assistant during 80's, was actually a main candidate for this position, alongside Andris Nelsons and Mariss Jansons. Many speculated Thielemann's discontent with this decision. Consider this: throughout the years Thielemann has conducted the orchestra for so many times & involved in a lot of projects with the Berliners. Thielemann's appointment as the principal conductor of Staatskapelle Dresden and artistic director of Easter Festival Salzburg (after Berliner Philharmoniker's departure to Baden-Baden) may have worsened their relationship in the last few  years. But Thielemann still goes to Berlin every January to conduct two concert series with them , also in this upcoming season. Petrenko has only conducted the orchestra for two times. 
Another bang right before the month ended: Anja Kampe, the supposed new Isolde in this new production conducted by Thielemann, officially resigned from the production. Evelyn Herlitzius jumped into the boat replacing her. Due to Kampe's unconfirmed status as Petrenko's companion (which causes media confusion for quite some time now), many fans wonder if this decision had something to do with Petrenko's appointment to Berlin or if there is actually a "beef" between Petrenko and Thielemann. Kampe still sings the role of Sieglinde for the last time in this year's Ring and no official reason for her resignation was mentioned on the festival's official site.



On July the 2nd, the Bayreuth Festival announced Thielemann as its musical director - a position never before existed. This may allow Thielemann to be more involved in the whole decision making & artistic process on the Green Hill. Further information is to be given during the press conference at festival's opening. An act of encouragement for Thielemann? 
A week before the premiere of Tristan, Katharina Wagner and Christian Thielemann gave a lot of interview to the media. While Ms. Wagner only handled the 'typical' questions around her works and interpretation of this new Tristan production, Thielemann on the other hand was asked an array of questions, ranging from the current controversy to his new position as the musical director. The complete interview by BR Klassik here.
Giving a rather neutral answer regarding his opinion about Petrenko's appointment to Berlin, Thielemann showed no excitement and expressed no congratulatory statements to his fellow conductor. Once again he expressed his content with his current position in Dresden, Salzburg and Bayreuth. According to him, there was also no conflict with Eva Wagner-Pasquier or Anja Kampe, as many have reported during the past 2 months. When asked about Petrenko's critic towards Eva Wagner's ban during the rehearsal, Thielemann told the BR-Klassik reporter to ask the man himself. There was also no further comments about Peter Raue's statement.

Now everything smells quite fishy. Is there actually a cat fight between Petrenko & Thielemann behind the red curtain? Was Eva Wagner-Pasquier really banned from the Festspielhaus during the her last sommer as intendant? Why my blog suddenly turned into a cheap gossip site? Anyway... herzlich willkommen zur Bayreuther Festspiele 2015!



Monday, August 3, 2015

Live Transmissions from Bayreuther Festspiele


Bayreuther Festspiele broadens the international public access again this year by transmitting the new production of "Tristan und Isolde" on this Friday, 7th August 2015 at 4 pm (CET). This will be the very first screening of a premiere production of the current year, while usually a production is screened 2 or 3 years after the premiere.
1. If you live in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, then you can check out in which cinemas they will screen the live stream on this site: www.wagner-im-kino.de, the ticket costs about 30 euro.
2. Only for Germany: www.br.de/radio/br-klassik/themen/bayreuther-festspiele-br-sendungen100.html - the good news is, if I'm not mistaken, the internet live stream would still be available until the end of this year.
3. It would be really difficult for international audience to see this live stream, but usually "someone" will 'leak' the recording on Youtube. I guess, it's your best shot. For now.

If you decide to join the live stream of this production, I'm sure you won't regret it. I heard the premiere live through BR Klassik (audio only) and was very satisfied with Thielemann's conducting. Further review after  I watch the live stream in cinema on Friday.

Beside the video live stream, BR Klassik also broadcast the live recordings of all seven Bayreuther opera productions in surround - freshly recorded this summer with the actual cast. Please go to their website for further details on the schedule.

operasantosa

Welcome, dear readers. This new blog is built upon the ruins of my previous classical music blog. It's summer and I'm under the stress of exams, so maybe that's why the idea to reinvent this blog popped up in my head. I will travel to Bayreuth next week, my reviews will definitely be the kick-off for this new blog. In the future, my posts on this blog will revolve around important news about the productions in major opera houses in Germany/Austria and (in special cases) Europe, live stream of concerts or opera events, news about important personalities in the business, and also reviews of concerts or opera productions which I attend (mostly in Berlin & surroundings). The posts are definitely shorter than the ones in my previous blog. For the following weeks I'll write (hopefully) a lot about Bayreuther Festspiele & Salzburger Festspiele.
Long live the blog.