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<<  -- 9 --  Malcolm Miller    THE BAYREUTH EXPERIENCE

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Conclusion -- Towards the Bayreuth of the Future :

In a sense this Tristan und Isolde symbolised the Bayreuth experience as a whole: for whatever the challenges, issues raised and problems of production, these were transcended by the musical interpretations, each of which had distinctive qualities. Informed by the analytical seminars on each opera, one's appreciation was enhanced and renewed through exciting perception of the structures and architectural and musico-dramatic aesthetics of each work. A year later, I can still vividly hear and see the sets and sounds of all the operas, savour the beauty of highlights in each.

The grounds of the Wahnfried. Photo © 2005 Malcolm Miller
The grounds of the Wahnfried. Photo © 2005 Malcolm Miller

Wagner's description of music, 'all is transition', may be applicable to Bayreuth as a whole. While one could pay one's respects to the Master lying peacefully in the grounds of the Wahnfried, one could also greet the living Wagner dynasty, in the person of the elegant, sleekly white-haired Wolfgang Wagner who was in attendance during most of the festival, ever friendly to the audience during intervals and occasionally (during Tristan) on stage making an announcement against the prohibited photographers.

Wolfgang Wagner (3rd from right) with Malcolm Miller (5th from right) and friends at Bayreuth
Wolfgang Wagner (3rd from right) with Malcolm Miller (5th from right) and friends at Bayreuth

Under his direction, Bayreuth has maintained its place amongst the operatic treasures of the world. Its future is in the balance; will it, as one conductor speculated, become a locus not only for Wagner but also for other operatic composers, both 19th century or contemporary? Will the successor to the Directorship, whether or not a Wagner, continue its path of internationalism and sense of exploration, and its policy of inviting acclaimed producers and composers with little Wagnerian experience to experiment afresh with well-worn works? Whatever the answers, one may be grateful that although last year may have been Boulez' last season at the Festspielhaus, the legacy of his Ring and Parsifal and the highlights of the Wolfgang Wagner years, will continue to inspire Bayreuth well into the 21st century and beyond.

The Richard Wagner bust outside the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. Photo © 2005 Malcolm Miller
The Richard Wagner bust outside the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. Photo © 2005 Malcolm Miller

 

Copyright © 25 July 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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The Bayreuth Festival runs from 25 July until 28 August 2006.

For further information about the Bayreuth Seminar 2007 organised by the University of Illinois, please contact Professor William Kinderman via email: wkinder AT uiuc DOT edu

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