In the new issue of Standpoint, I give account of my first visit this summer to the Bayreuth Festival. I attempt to examine its magnetic attraction for many music lovers and, for me, its repellent properties.
There were two aspects of Bayreuth overwhelmed me almost from the moment of arrival: megalomania and dishonesty.
No other place that I know on earth is so dominated, physically and ethereally, by a single man in the way that Richard Wagner rules this innocuous little town. His theatre is the first thing you see as the train pulls in, his name and works are everywhere. Almost 140 years after his first arrival, his descendants continue to run the festival as of divine right. The abuse of power is innate to the place.
As for hypocrisy, few can match the reigning Wagners for equivocation over their family’s misdeeds, ancient and recent.
Read the piece. See what you think.