Katharina Wagner discuses: falling ticket demand, criminal investigations, loss of main sponser and a live Parsifal 2012 in a cinema near you - unless you live in the USA

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 5 February 2012 | 8:37:00 am

In a rare interview with Welt Online Katharina Wagner discuses troubling times at Bayreuth and the announcement of a live cinema broadcast of Parsifal this year to an approximate 100 cinemas around the world - well apart from in  the USA.
 
When asked about the relatively high - for Bayreuth - number of empty seats during the 2011 season, she pointed out that although empty they were still sold seats and thus at least of little economic impact. However, when pressed with the fact that demand for tickets had decreased significantly - from 10 people chasing each ticket to 6 people per ticket during the 2011 season, she included the possibility that this might be to due to the types of production being put on (the new Tannhäuser and negative critical and public reaction to recent productions were proposed by the interviewer). However, she suggested a number of other possible influencing factors including:

  • A 25 percent increase in ticket prices.
  • The poor state of the international economy
  • That people maybe more likely to watch a Bayreuth production on DVD
  • The number of quality Wagner productions elsewhere.

Was she worried? Yes, but oddly thought that the new electronic, online ticketing system would help towards rectifying the problem. Needing to cultivate a new, younger audience would also help, and this ticketing system, she seemed to suggest, would help with this.

When asked about Frank Castorf she stated he was a highly experienced director, well versed in his craft.

The interviewer noted that in his contract, Castrof was not allowed to "cut" the Ring. Had any further artistic "limitations" been placed on him? No, said Katharina, except those imposed by finances and logistics - intriguingly noting  such as the size of the orchestra pit.

Questioned about ongoing criminal investigations into Bayreuth ticket sales, she was obviously unable to comment to any great extent. Again, two unnamed people were mentioned as being investigated, but she noted the investigation was into the distribution of free, not sold tickets. She also pointed out that Bayreuth was more rigorous in ticket distribution than perhaps any other opera house.

While discussing why Siemens pulled its sponsorship of the festival Katharina announced that this years Parsifal - already scheduled for free broadcast on the 11 August on ARTE TV - would also be broadcast live in Cinema relays across Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the UK. No mention was made of the USA, but given the size of this market its exclusion would seem unlikely - although nothing is ever certain with Bayreuth. Ticket prices would be around 25 to 29 euros.

Discussing, criticisms of recent productions she agrees that not everything worked but points to the progressive "workshop" nature of Bayreuth productions which allows significant changes and improvements to productions each year.

Finally, when asked if she will apply to renew her contract with Bayreuth in 2015 when it expires she said that she had still not decided.

This is only a limited overview of the full interview which can be found in its original German here