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Sykes, Julian

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Le Temps - Switzerland | 16/08/2006

The lost lustre of the Bayreuth Festival

Journalist Julian Sykes believes that the Bayreuth opera festival, a venerable institution devoted to the arts that was founded in 1876, is running out of steam. "Wagnerians will tell you that Bayreuth's golden years were between the 1950s and 1970s ... Yet although one might deplore the decline of Wagnerian song, nothing can justifie the ups and downs of the festival. Once a beacon, Bayreuth lives on a past to which it clumsily attempts to bring lustre through avantgarde productions. But because it portrays itself as the guardian of tradition, the marriage is tense, and the strain is felt. At nearly 87 years of age, Wolfgang Wagner - at the helm since 1951! - still wields the sceptre. Despite the effort made to welcome Europe's avantgarde stage directors, recent productions (an incomprehensible 'Parsifal' from Schlingensief and an incomplete 'Tristan' from Marthaler) have not brought that long-awaited freshness."

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