Friday, 15 July 2011

Putting the record straight.

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:

Jonas Kaufmann
Klaus Florian Vogt
Lance Ryan
Simon O'Neill
Johan Botha
Robert Dean Smith
Christopher Ventris
Norbert Ernst

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:

Nina Stemme
Ricarda Merbeth
Adrienne Pieczonka
Judith Nemeth
Linda Watson
Eva-Maria Westbroek
Michaela Kaune
Peter Seiffert
Petra-Maria Schnitzer
Irene Theorin
Evelyn Herlitzius
Annette Dasch
Camilla  Nylund
Frank van Aken
John Tomlinson
Olaf Bär
John Wegner
Kwangchoul Youn
Samuel Youn
Georg Zeppenfeld
Arthur Korn
Reinhard Hagen
Hans-Peter König
Andreas Schmidt
Stephen Gould
Petra Lang
Roman Trekel
Michael Nagy
Michael Volle
Adrian Eröd
James Rutherford
Robert Holl
Alan Titus

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.

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