Posted January 29, 2015

Posted January 29, 2015

As a member of the Gesellschaft der Freunde von Bayreuth, the Wagner Society of Northern California receives periodic messages about Bayreuth, Haus Wahnfried and the Bayreuth Festival.

This is the first one for 2015 and there is exciting news: Haus Wahnfried is set to reopen in July, in time for the Festival. Also many of the artifacts which were housed in Wahnfried have been extensively renovated. Prior to renovation, Wahnfried was always damp and occasionaly the basement flooded. This was detrimental to the exhibits. Now they should stay high and dry . . . . read on. . . . 


I. Productions 2015 to 2019

At the beginning of the 2014 festival season, the names of the producers or production teams and the conductors who will be shaping the artistic appearance of the Bayreuth Festival in the years ahead were published.

1. “Parsifal”(2016)

In November, the Bayreuth Festival announced that the contract with Jonathan Meese, who was working on a new production of “Parsifal”for 2016, had been terminated. As the Commercial Director of the Bayreuth Festival, Heinz-Dieter Sense, explained, considerable financial problems had arisen from the very beginning of the preparations for the planned new production of “Parsifal”in 2016. They related to the sets and costumes and could not be resolved satisfactorily even after a three-month period had been granted to make suitable adjustments. It would have meant exceeding the available budget by a considerable amount. That is not acceptable for Bayreuther Festspiele GmbH

After careful consideration, it was decided, in agreement with the shareholders of Bayreuther Festspiele, to dispense with Jonathan Meese’s services for the financial reasons mentioned.

Uwe Eric Laufenberg will take over the “Parsifal”production. Andris Nelsons will be returning to the conductor’s rostrum in Bayreuth for the production.

Born in Cologne, Uwe Eric Laufenberg studied acting at the Folkwang University in Essen. His first appearances as an actor and production assistant took him to Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Cologne and Zurich. From 1997 to 2000, he was a producer and senior director at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin, and from 2004 to 2009 he was the Director of the Hans Otto Theatre in Potsdam.

From 2009 to 2012, Laufenberg was the Director of the Cologne Opera, where among other things he produced “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”. At the beginning of the 2014/15 season, he became Director of the Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden.

Productions in the field of musical theatre have also taken him to Brussels (“Ariadne auf Naxos”), Dresden (“Der Rosenkavalier”), Geneva (“Tosca”) and the Bregenz Festival (“Karl V.”). His current production of the “Ring des Nibelungen”can be seen at the Landestheater Linz (conductor: Dennis Russell Davies). The première of “Götterdämmerung”will be on 7th February, 2015.

2. “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” (2017)

In 2017, Barrie Kosky will produce “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”. Philippe Jordan will conduct. The following singers are planned at present: Michael Volle (Hans Sachs), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Sixtus Beckmesser), Klaus Florian Vogt (Stolzing), Krassimira Stoyanova (Eva).

After working as the artistic director of the Adelaide Festival in Australia in 1996 and overseeing productions for Opera Australia, the Sydney Theatre Company, the Melbourne Theatre Company and various festivals, Barrie Kosky was Director of the Vienna Schauspielhaus from 2001 to 2005.

In 2005, he produced “Lohengrin”at the Vienna Staatsoper, and “Der fliegende Holländer”and “Tristan und Isolde”at the Aalto Theater in Essen. Beginning in 2009, he worked on a “Ring”cycle in Hanover. This was followed in 2010 by Richard Strauss’s “Die schweigsame Frau”at the Bayerische Staatsoper and “Dido and Aeneas”and “Bluebeard’s”at the Frankfurt Opera. His production of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s “Castor et Pollux”at the English National Opera in London received the Laurence Olivier Award.

Since the 2012/13 season, Barrie Kosky has been Director and chief producer at the Komische Oper in Berlin, where he has produced “Die Zauberflöte”, “Rusalka”, “Le Nozze die Figaro”, “Sieben Songs/Die sieben Todsünden”and “Le Grand Macabre”among other things.

3. “Lohengrin”(2018)

In 2018, Alvis Hermanis will produce “Lohengrin”. The artist Neo Rauch will provide the sets, and Christian Thielemann will conduct. The French tenor Roberto Alagna is to take on the role of the swan knight.

Alvis Hermanis was born in Latvia and studied acting at the Latvian State Conservatory. Since 1993, he has been a producer at the New Theatre in Riga, where he has been the Director since 1997. Guest appearances have taken him and his ensemble to, among other places, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Finland, Germany, Austria, Canada and the United States.

In the Swiss cultural journal »Du«, theatre experts from 20 countries voted him one of the ten most influential theatre personalities in Europe. He has been awarded the PREMIO EUROPA PER IL TEATRO, the European theatre prize NEUE THEATRALE REALITÄTEN and the Stanislawski Prize in Moscow for his international productions.

Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s “Die Soldaten”for the Salzburg Festival in 2012 was his first production in the field of musical theatre. This was followed by Harrison Birtwistle’s “Gawein”(2013) and “Il trovatore”(2014). In the current season, he has also produced, among other things, “Così fan tutte”at the Komische Oper in Berlin.

4. “Tannhäuser”(2019)

A new production of “Tannhäuser”is planned for 2019. It has been announced that negotiations are in progress with Tobias Kratzer (producer).

 II. “Ring” conductor

Kirill Petrenko will still be on the podium in Bayreuth in the 2015 Festival season to conduct the “Ring”. His post as General Music Director at the Bayerische Staatsoper and the duties that involves at the Munich Opera Festival mean that it will not be possible for him to continue his work in Bayreuth after that. As of the 2016 season, Marek Janowski will take over as the conductor of the“Ring”.

Marek Janowski was born in Warsaw in 1939. After completing his violin and piano studies, he trained as a conductor at the Cologne Conservatory, under Wolfgang Sawallisch among others. After posts as a repetiteur and conductor in Aachen, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Hamburg, he became the General Music Director in charge of the Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra from 1973 to 1975 and the Dortmund Philharmonic from 1975 to 1979.

In the 1980s he appeared as a guest conductor at the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Vienna Staatsoper and the Metropolitan Opera New York among others. From 1984 to 2000, Janowski headed the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and from 2001 to 2003 the Dresden Philharmonic. Since 2002, he has been the artistic director and chief conductor of the RSB Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Since the 1990s, Marek Janowski has withdrawn more and more from the field of opera. In his concert work, on which he has concentrated exclusively ever since, he has continued the great German conducting tradition, he has a world-wide reputation as an outstanding conductor of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner and Strauss, but also as an expert on the French repertoire.

His departure from opera was only institutional, however, not musical. That is why Marek Janowski is nowadays regarded more than ever as one of the most experienced conductors around for Richard Wagner’s music. With the RSB, the Berlin Radio Chorus and leading international Wagner singers, he put on all ten of Richard Wagner’s great operas and music dramas in the Bayreuth canon between 2010 and 2013, each in single concertante performances in the Berlin Philharmonie.

In February 2014, Marek Janowski was awarded the special prize for his life’s work by the jury of the German Record Critics’ Prize.



The German DER FAUST theatre awards were presented in the Hamburg Staatsoper on 8th November, 2014. The prize in the sets / costumes category went to Aleksandar Denić for his sets for the current production of “Der Ring des Nibelungen”.



The sofa on which Richard Wagner died in Venice on 13th February, 1883, has undergone extensive restoration. It was made possible by a special “item sponsorship”. In addition to the deathbed sofa, numerous books from the Wahnfried library, a portrait of Cosima Wagner and also a coat of chainmail and the “Grail cloak” from the 1882 “Parsifal”production have been repaired, together with other original costumes. Most recently, the desk at which Richard Wagner is thought to have produced his first sketches for “Lohengrin” has undergone extensive restoration.

     (Source: Haus Wahnfried)

It will be possible for the public to see these museum pieces again as of Summer 2015: Villa Wahnfried is due to be reopened at the end of July. The financing of the Richard Wagner Museum for 2015 has finally been assured for 2015. The town of Bayreuth, the Federal authorities, the Upper Franconian Foundation and the Free State of Bavaria have approved further funding to cover the operating costs.