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5.9.05

Boulez Comes Down from the Green Hill for Good

Pierre Boulez at the podiumI missed this at the time, but I'm going to mention it now. Pierre Boulez, composer, conductor, and poster boy for enfants terribles everywhere, has said that this year's production of Parsifal will be the last he conducts at Bayreuth. That means that the fifth and final performance this month was an occasion of farewell for Boulez, after nearly 100 appearances at the Bayreuth podium (see Jens's review of the infamous Boulez-Chéreau Ring DVD), as recounted in an article (Pierre Boulez fait ses adieux à la scène de Bayreuth, August 24) from Agence France-Presse and Le Monde. As reported in the New York Times, the general music director of the National Theater in Mannheim, Adam Fischer, will replace Boulez conducting Parsifal next year. The 80-year-old Boulez is reported as saying, "I began with Parsifal, and I am going to stop with Parsifal" (my translation):

He came back to Bayreuth for the centenary celebration of The Ring, "completely surprised" not only to see himself offered the chance to conduct the tetralogy but also asked to suggest directors. Wolfgang Wagner wanted a staging concept written down, but Patrice Chéreau, behind whom Pierre Boulez had thrown his support, refused. "I told him just to write down anything," recalls Pierre Boulez of the birth of that legendary production, booed at its premiere but bombarded with interminable ovations during its final performance in 1980. The "éminence grise" of contemporary music, Pierre Boulez was given a standing ovation on July 30 at the end of the Schlingsief Parsifal at the 94th Bayreuth Festival. He stunned the audience with his agile tempo choices during all three acts, giving an elegant, coherent, and poetic reading of the work, transparent down to the last detail.
The publication of a new book of photographs, Pierre Boulez à Bayreuth, commemorates the occasion, but I haven't found it for sale anywhere online yet. When I can find it, I think it might make a nice New Year's gift for A. C. Douglas.

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