The Bayreuth Festival is keeping Wagner in the family, announcing that the the composer’s great-granddaughter, Katharina, will open the festival with a new production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg.
The 28-year-old Katharina Wagner, daughter of festival chief Wolfang Wagner, is also widely tipped to succeed her 87-year-old father on Bayreuth’s famous green hill when he finally steps down. Katharina has directed Wagner operas before — “Der fliegende Holländer” (The Flying Dutchman) in Würzburg in 2002 and “Lohengrin” in Budapest in 2003.
The legendary Bayreuth the summer music festival, dedicated exclusively to the works of Richard Wagner, runs from July 25 to August 28 and comprises 30 performances, all sold-out long in advance. The waiting list for tickets is currently over 10 years.
In the pit for the new production will be upcoming German conductor Sebastian Weigle, also making his debut in Bayreuth. Many of the mostly young cast of singers will also be singing in the hallowed auditorium for the first time as well, including German bass Franz Hawlata as Hans Sachs. A relative newcomer, US soprano Amanda Mace, is to sing the role of Eva.
The only Bayreuth veteran in the production will be US tenor Robert Dean Smith as Walther von Stolzing. Smith has trodden Bayreuth’s boards before, in the equally taxing roles of Tristan, Lohengrin and Siegmund.
Katharina’s partner, Endrik von Wottrich, is to star as Siegmund in the first revival of Tankred Dorst’s complete four-part “Ring,” which critics panned at its premiere last year.