The last time I visited Bayreuth, in 2004, I provided a series of photojournals. This time I will bother you with but one omnibus post of miscellaneous snapshots. My full review appears in this week's New Yorker; my 2004 column can be found here, and my report on Jürgen Flimm's 2000 production of the Ring is in the New Yorker archive.
Every year or two I save a ticket from a performance that has made a particularly deep impression on me. The Hans Neuenfels Lohengrin, with Andris Nelsons conducting and Klaus Florian Vogt in the lead, was one such. The last time I did this was for Chéreau's From the House of the Dead at the Met.
I never cease to be astounded that a modern head of state takes a serious interest in Wagner — or any classical composer, for that matter. For anyone who missed it, here is my video of Angela Merkel at the second Tannhäuser intermission:
More of the red-carpet ritual, with Horst Seehofer, Minister-President of Bavaria, glad-handing the crowd:
This was the one hundredth edition of the Bayreuth festival (it became an annual affair only in the thirties), and one enthusiast commemorated the occasion by donning a hat emblazoned with the number "100" and Wagner's picture:
Fashion points also go to this ensemble:
The amazing Spider-Man and the amazing Lohengrin:
When the lights went down, the hard work began — trying to decipher Sebastian Baumgarten's conception of Tannhäuser. A chart supplied by the press office did not entirely clarify matters:
A major event during the opening festival week was a performance by the Israel Chamber Orchestra at Bayreuth Town Hall. The program consisted of Mahler's Rückert Lieder (with Dietrich Henschel), Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony, Prayer by the Israeli composer Tzvi Avni, Liszt's Angelus!, and Wagner's Siegfried-Idyll. To hear Israeli musicians playing Wagner in Bayreuth was something of an event, even if there was nothing remarkable about the performance itself. Katharina Wagner, the composer's great-granddaughter and the co-director of the festival, was in attendance, her blonde ponytail visible in the bottom center of this picture:
The music of Liszt is much in evidence in Bayreuth this summer, the composer having died in the town in 1886. (I wrote about Liszt's final years in 2003.) A series of concerts and exhibitions has been gathered under the title Lust auf Liszt:
The death registry recording Liszt's passing (left-hand side, second from bottom), on display at Steingraeber & Söhne:
I paused before the great wall of Wagner books in the Markgrafen bookstore:
And subsisted largely on Festspiele bratwurst:
I hope to return for the new Ring — and the remodeled Wagner Museum at Wahnfried — in 2013.