“Katharina Wagner Should Be Shot” - A Personal Reaction to Meistersinger in the Flesh, 2009


By Patricia Baillie

Katharina Wagner should be shot. Or at least removed from further productions at Bayreuth... Like other Society members I saw the woeful production of Meistersinger at the Goethe Institut. But it wasn’t until I saw it in the flesh - and there certainly was flesh – at Bayreuth this year that I took in fully how ridiculous it was. She wishes to ‘modernize’ Bayreuth productions. Fine, but I do believe the action on stage should have some connection with the text and the music. Neither was evident. The absurd parade of composers with huge heads, including Wagner in his jockeys, doing what I can only call prancing was distracting, implausible, and simply laughable. Meistersinger is a comedy, and we are given plenty to laugh at in the music, in the libretto and in Wagner’s stage directions. Interpretation is one thing, inane irrelevancies are another.

Perhaps the worst was to see the solemn beauty of the Act III quintet interrupted by an irrelevant piece of stage business, with a young boy needing to pee, crossing his legs, and finally, as the last notes of the quintet died, running urgently offstage.

The pity of it was that she had a splendid Walther in Klaus Florian Vogt. To see him placed at the back of that enormous stage, with the voice ringing across the orchestra and filling the auditorium was a memorable experience. And the voice lost none of its beauty for being so large. Ah well, we will, I hope, see more of Vogt, but less of Katherina Wagner.