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26.7.04

Hojotoho! Hojotoho! Heiaha! Heiaha!

It's that time of year, when people travel around the world to spend hours upon hours in a darkened theater. Yes, it's the Bayreuth Festival, that annual orgiastic resurrection of Wagner's operas. Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, is living out my dream (see post from August 12, 2003): he has posted photographs of his visit to Bayreuth on The Rest Is Noise. We look forward to more Bayreuth blogging, and to Alex's review of the Christoph Schlingensief production of Parsifal in the magazine next week (for now, Alex will say only that the production is "probably fated to be known as the 'dead rabbit Parsifal' "). The news reports on the Parsifal premiere are mixed:

German crowd jeers Wagner opera, July 26, BBC News:

A staging of Wagner's opera Parsifal by controversial German director Christoph Schlingensief was loudly booed at the opening of the Bayreuth Festival.
Wagner Festival Starts Without Scandal, July 26, Deutsche Welle:
The 2004 Wagner Festival opened with a controversial production of "Parsifal" on Sunday. But despite some booing, many in the audience agreed that the director's work was an interesting and courageous interpretation.
Opéra: une mise en scène contestée de "Parsifal" ouvre le festival de Bayreuth, July 26, TV5 (Agence France-Presse):
The 93rd Bayreuth Festival opened Sunday night with a new production of Wagner's Parsifal, whose director, the German Christoph Schlingensief, was booed by a majority of the audience, but without that reception turning into a scandal, as the German press had predicted. . . . Pierre Boulez, given a standing ovation by the entire audience, has come back to the hidden orchestra pit of Bayreuth, after a 24-year absence.
"Parsifal" applaudi (Parsifal applauded, with a nice picture), July 26, Le Nouvel Observateur:
The controversy that had been predicted was largely absent. . . . The Parsifal production, described as a mixture of national mythology and images borrowed from African cultures, inspired applause and none of the expected booing.
Werner Theurich, Schlingensiefs "Parsifal": Bilderflut, Bilderwut ("A flood of images, a rage of images," with lots of great photos in the article), July 26, Der Spiegel:
Never before was a premiere at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival awaited with greater tension than Christoph Schlingensief's Parsifal. But the "provocation pro" disappointed the sensation-greedy: instead of scandalous ideas, the director presented well-matched Pop aesthetics.
Bayreuther Festspiele ohne Skandal eröffnet (Bayreuth Festival offers up no scandal), July 25, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
The theatrical troublemaker, who has created his first opera production, received some violent booing at Sunday evening's premiere in the Festspielhaus, but this was easily outweighed in the end by applause. While opinions about the production diverged, agreement prevailed over the achievement of Pierre Boulez: the French conductor presided over a great musical moment at the Richard Wagner Festival.
As we knew he would, A. C. Douglas at sounds & fury had already pronounced the failure of the Schlingensief production, because and he later noted that the tenor singing Parsifal criticized it. The new controversy, apparently, is that Schlingensief has accused tenor Endrik Wottrich of racism, saying that he doesn't like the production because of its imagery of Africans (Ist der Tenor ein Rassist? [Is the tenor a racist?], July 26). (In response to this post, he expressed his hope that an accident would prevent Boulez from conducting the opera at Bayreuth. "Doesn't ACD realize that Boulez 'saved Parsifal'," he asked impishly: see Tom Service, How I rescued Parsifal, July 23, in The Guardian.) If you can't make it to Bayreuth but you want to hear the operas, ACD has a list of live streaming radio feeds for some of the performances at the top of his blog, although I haven't been able to make them work properly. Yet.

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