German performance artist out of prestigious Bayreuth Festival

14th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

Controversial German performance artist Jonathan Meese will not direct at the world-famous Bayreuth opera festival as planned in 2016 because his staging is too expensive, organisers said on Friday.

Meese, 44, had been recruited to direct a new production of Richard Wagner's opera "Parsifal" in the 2016 edition of the legendary month-long summer festival.

But the festival's commercial director Heinz-Dieter Sense said Meese's concept for the staging was not affordable.

"Substantial financing problems emerged from the very beginning with regard to the planned stage sets and costumes," Sense said.

"The available budget would have been substantially overrun.

And this is not acceptable.

" The Bayreuth Festival, dedicated exclusively to the works of its founder Richard Wagner, is one of the most sought-after tickets in the world of opera and classical music, with waiting lists stretching to 10 years and more.

Since the composer's death in 1883, the festival has been run by Wagner's descendants and is currently in the hands of his great-granddaughters Katharina Wagner, 36, and Eva Wagner-Pasquier, 69.

Their choice of Meese for the new production of "Parsifal" in 2016, Wagner's final stage work, was controversial from the start because the Berlin-based artist is notorious for his use of swastikas and Hitler salutes in his performances.

Meese has also never directed an opera before, even if he has designed stage sets elsewhere, such as the Salzburg Festival in Austria.

Nevertheless, with only two years to go, the cancellation of Meese's contract will prove a major headache for the festival as a new director must be found who can come with a full staging concept in such a short period of time.

The conductor for the new "Parsifal" is young Latvian star Andris Nelsons.

The new production in 2015 is a staging by Katharina herself of "Tristan und Isolde" which will be conducted by German maestro Christian Thielemann.


© 2014 AFP

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