Bayreuth director had 'artistic differences'
22 July 2004, BAYREUTH - Christoph Schlingensief, the enfant terrible of the German film and theatre scene, conceded in an interview with German Presse-Agentur Thursday that he has had "artistic differences" ahead of his debut this weekend at the 93rd Bayreuth Wagnerian opera festival.
22 July 2004
BAYREUTH - Christoph Schlingensief, the enfant terrible of the German film and theatre scene, conceded in an interview with German Presse-Agentur Thursday that he has had "artistic differences" ahead of his debut this weekend at the 93rd Bayreuth Wagnerian opera festival.
Whatever else happens during the festival, which runs from 25 July to 28 August, it will be Christoph Schlingensief's staging of Parsifal that will be talked about for years to come.
Boyish-looking and tousle-haired, 43-year-old Schlingensief has no previous experience staging operas. He was commissioned by Bayreuth patriarch Wolfgang Wagner in an effort to bring new blood to the festival.
"It was an offer I could not refuse," Schlingensief told DPA.
He said that "artistic differences" with 81-year-old Wagner prompted Schlingensief to stage a brief walkout.
"But once I was assured of total artistic freedom, I resumed work," Schlingensief said.
"I promised not to interfere with the music, and in return I demanded absolute artistic freedom," he said.
"It was a shame that some of these matters had to end up being settled by lawyers," he added.
"But perhaps it was also the fear here in this place that my images use many connotations from various religions or from the arts that could be confusing or difficult to decipher," he said.
"Perhaps I'd have had fewer difficulties if I'd put the flower girls in Nazi SS uniforms or had covered the stage in six metres of manure," he went on. "But that sort of thing doesn't interest me."
In the meantime, tensions have eased.
"Wolfgang Wagner is slowly starting to accept that my images look somewhat different from those that he is accustomed to seeing here," he told DPA.
"Wagner also understands that I'm not trying to be provocative, but rather am trying to offer new images and new ideas," said Schlingensief.
"It hasn't been easy getting these images across, but now we are proud of what we have achieved," he said.
Schlingensief is the acknowledged enfant terrible of the German film and theatre scene. He is adept at shocking audiences with films with titles such as "The German Chainsaw Massacre" and with stage productions in which nudity and Nazis prevail.
His stage productions are marked by obscenities and blatantly politically incorrect portrayals of life in Germany. But he said that his Parsifal is not intended to be shocking.
"I'm not out to destroy opera," he said. "Nor do I have any desire these days to cause a riot."
Richard Wagner called Parsifal his "Weltabschiedsstueck" or "farewell piece" and conceived of it as a kind of eulogy, Schlingensief points out.
"It is supposed to represent the final death and transfiguration, the triumph over pain and fear and a reuniting with nature," he said.
"The story of Parsifal brings to life the megalomania of the artist who believes he can bring other people salvation," he said. "I feel like a bit of a soul mate with Parsifal."
Subject: German news