I passed through Bayreuth to see Yuval Sharon's new production of Lohengrin and last year's Meistersinger, by Barrie Kosky. A report will appear in a future issue of The New Yorker. In keeping with my composer-grave habit, this year I not only paid homage to the Meister, the Meisterin, and their dogs but also went to the Stadtfriedhof to see the resting places of Liszt, Hans Richter, and various other Wagners. Above lies Richter. An attempt to find the grave of Oskar Panizza, author of Das Liebeskonzil and "Bayreuth und Homosexualität," was unsuccessful.
Seldom does the ordinary operagoer have the opportunity to see stars just before they go onstage, but in a parking lot near the Festspielhaus a fortunate few caught a glimpse of the canines playing the roles of Marke and Molly in Kosky's Meistersinger. That production opens with a delightful pantomime of a day at Wahnfried, circa 1875.
Incidentally, last year saw the publication of Franziska Polanski's Richard Wagners Hunde, in which the history of Wagner's dogs is told in full.
For the first time I took a tour of the Mystic Abyss, the legendary orchestra pit at the Festspielhaus. How the man thought of this arrangement — and knew that it would work — is beyond understanding.
I was sad to find that the Markgrafen Buchhandlung, the book and music store opposite the Goldener Anker, had closed. Its replacement, Cosima, seems to be faring no better.
To achieve the requisite overstuffing of my luggage, I went to the Antiquariat Walter Bösch, where, amid a lavish collection of old Wagner books, scores, and programs, I found Max Kalbeck's monograph on the Parsifal première.
Sadly, I will miss Boybands Forever.
My first night in Bayreuth coincided with the recent lunar eclipse. A crowd of Bayreuthers gathered on a hill above the Festspielhaus to observe the event. In the end, the Blutmond was mostly hidden by long-hanging clouds, but it was a pleasant hour in the dark.
Until the Ring in 2020....