Posted April 28, 2013

Bayreuth Fest to Get a New Exec

April 26, 2013

By Rebecca Schmid,

The Bayreuth Festival, after a year-old long search, is one step away from engaging an executive director. The dpa reports that the board of directors has nominated Heinz Dieter Sense, onetime intendant of the Deutsche Oper, to run affairs alongside the Wagner sisters under a two-year contract. The position is a new one, designed to “remedy grievances at the Bayreuth Festival” according a statement from the governing political body, with particular attention to a “lack of internal infra- and operational structures.” The Bayreuth Festival receives 2.3 million euros in federal support.

The statement cites a policy, cracked down upon by a federal investigation last year, that allotted 25 percent of Festival tickets to its Society of Friends. “We hope that an executive director will ensure that the blatant mismanagement of the Bayreuth Festival belongs in the past and wish Mr. Sense great success in his position,” according to the statement. The investigation into ticketing-distribution practices was ultimately dropped in February 2012* but has left the enterprise tainted, with the media pointing to preferential treatment of company sponsors, Wagner Societies, and touring companies.

Shortly before the case was dropped, the Bayreuth administration sent a letter to all 139 Wagner Societies explaining that investigations by the Bavarian General Accounting Office and the German Federal Court of Auditors would no longer make it possible to grant members special access to tickets but that the festival had not been issued a legal penalty. Rumors about the lack of harmony between co-directors and half-sisters Katharina Wagner, 35, and Eva Pasquier-Wagner, 68, persist. Most of the flack has fallen on Katharina, who is by far the more outgoing of the two and tends to serve as spokesperson. Their contract ends in 2015. Melody Bunting International


WagAdmin notes:

* The article fails to note that in 2012 the Festspiele Governing Board agreed to resume ticket allocations in a modified format for Festspiele 2013. Later in 2012 the Federal Government threatened to withdraw funding of the 2013 Festspiele if the ticket allocations to Wagner Societies were resumed. It is further noted that even now, 2013 Festspiele applicants are receiving ticket invoices. Normally all the tickets would be purchased and in the hands of attendees by this date.

It should also be pointed out that in the past 20 years, the Society of Friends of Bayreuth has provided substantial funding not only to the Festspiele but has also provided 28 million Euro toward renovation and upgrading of the Festspielhaus. At the time of this post, WagAdmin was not able to obtain the funding numbers for Society of Frends of Bayreuth donations directly to the Festspiele.