There are some people who claim that Bayreuth was consistently much better in years gone by, that the singers these days don't hold a candle to the stars of yesteryear 'n' all that. It's true that there were fine singers in the past, but to implicitly proclaim every performance then was superior to what is available now is pure folly. There are excellent Bayreuth recordings featuring luminaries such as Wolfgang Windgassen, Leonie Rysanek, Martha Mödl, Frieda Leider etc but let's just have a quick look at the tenors who sang here last year:
Klaus Florian Vogt
Robert Dean Smith
Considering that even the biggest houses worldwide practically never schedule more than two Wagner works each season and that we perform anything between five and eight in five weeks, uniting talent like that is going it some. Here are some of the other names who've sung here since I've been working here:
Frank van Aken
If I'd started a couple of years earlier I'd have been able to add Placido Domingo and Waltraud Meier to that list.
I could go on and on. Hardly the moribund event some naysayers harp on about. Considering the festival now has to compete with the world of the chequebook-driven, photogenic, media-hyped 'star', the fact that artists of such stature still want to spend their summer performing Wagner in his own theatre says a lot for their integrity. Bayreuth is a great leveller: Wagner's music is always, without exception, more impressive than even the most talented and photogenic interpreter and no-one is bigger than the creator, here. It's fantastic. Musical life the way it should be.