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Regime change in Bayreuth - and Dresden
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Regime change in Bayreuth - and Dresden

The departure of Eva Wagner-Pasquier from the festival that bears her family name is of less importance than a sacking in Dresden, says Rupert Christiansen

3:57PM GMT 27 Feb 2014

Over the last century, the reputation of the family-run summer festival of Wagnerian opera in Bayreuth has become so synonymous with skulduggery, scandal and internecine feuding that one can only assume the worst when it issues a press release. But the latest news to emerge from the House on the Green Hill is not, I think, so very sinister.

For the last five years, Eva Wagner-Pasquier and her much younger half-sister Katharina Wagner have been running the festival as a duumvirate. Both are the great grand daughters of Richard, the children of his grandson Wolfgang. Because they come from traditionally hostile sides of the terrible clan, their appointment was at first regarded with considerable scepticism, but they are both grown-ups and there is no solid evidence to suggest that they haven’t collaborated in reasonable harmony.

This week Eva has announced that she will stand down at the end of the 2015 season, though she may well remain in some sort of advisory capacity. This is not unexpected or untoward: she turns 70 next year, and probably no longer wants to sustain the heavy administrative responsibility she currently bears. The programme is mapped out for the next five years, and the initially inexperienced Katharina has by now spent enough time in the organisation to sustain the top job unaided.

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