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Siegfried gets them all in the end - even Mr Merkel. But he doesn't like Regie

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday 23 January 2013 | 11:33:00 pm

Theoretical chemist Joachim Sauer, the "media shy" husband of German Chancellor Angela Merkel., has said today that he once hated Wagner. He simply found Wagner's music "bombastic". However, that all changed one day after a chance encounter with Siegfried. Although oddly, neither in a cave, forest or opera house but lying at home listening to the radio one day. Saur, quantum chemist and full professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin explains:

"I was studying chemistry and this is a physically hard job because you are in the laboratory, you work hard and you come home in the late afternoon or in the evening and you always needed a break. So I would stretch out on the sofa, switch on the radio and listen to this special radio program which has a lot of classical music and I was listening to something. I didn't know what it was but I found it very interesting.

"And at the end it turned out it was a piece of 'Siegfried'" - from Wagner's "Ring" cycle. "So I told myself, 'You're an should listen to it.' So this was how it started."

And how important is Wagner to him now?

"If you ask me what is the best good fortune in my life of course I say that I have seen in my lifespan the Wall coming down, the reunification," (he grow up in East Germany). "But the second, which comes with it, is perhaps that I now can go to Bayreuth."
Talking about all of Wagner's dramas he said, "It never ends, they so rich, "And they are all so very different."

And he considers Bayreuth unique for not only does it provide a platform purely for Wagner's mature work but also the opportunity it gives someone like himself to get away from everything - if only for a short time

Although, he likes much music from the romantic repertoire,  he would not like to see this performed at Bayreuth,

"Many people would be very proud if they had invented it. Therefore I am strictly against any good advice they would give to open it to change, to open it to other composers, to do all types of things. All wrong, because this is a unique thing and don't touch it."

And his most treasured production at Bayreuth? It turns out to be the Heiner Müller, Tristan;

"It was really the best piece I have seen in Bayreuth so far.... I often have trouble with what is called the 'regie theater' where the director takes over but in this case it made sense not only in an intellectual way but also an emotional way,"

This leads to the obvious question of his feelings about this years, Castrof directed Ring Cycle - a man unlikely to use conventional story telling, or production techniques - L'enfant terrible of the text. Of course, like the rest of us, he has heard the rumors but concludes:

"We take the risk. The music is still there,"

It is indeed Joachim, it is indeed.

Originally interviewed by Michael Roddy. Text above should only be blamed on TW