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Classical News, Jazz, Opera, World Music, Theater, Ballet ...

Wolfgang calls a truce
The battle over the succession to lead the Bayreuth opera festival enters a cooling off period, as current director Wolfgang Wagner calls a truce.

Wolfgang Wagner, the 81-year-old grandson of composer Richard Wagner, has run the festival since 1951 but is now under pressure to step down.

BBC Online News reports that at a news conference he told reporters that the festival's board of directors had agreed to put discussion of his replacement on hold until the autumn.

"Negotiations must continue in hopes of finding a constructive solution," he said.

Earlier this year, the board tried to force Wolfgang Wagner to step down in favour of his estranged daughter Eva Wagner-Pasquier. But so far he has refused to relinquish the position, claiming that his contract with Bayreuth is for life.

The BBC reports that Eva Wagner-Pasquier has since said she is not interested in the position as long as her father refuses to leave.

Another contender is Wolfgang Wagner's niece Nike, who has teamed up with director of the Stuttgart State Opera Klaus Zehelein to apply for the position.

Wolfgang Wagner's directorship has come in for criticism for being too conservative. But he disputed the accusations at Thursday's press conference. "I only think about the future of Bayreuth," he said.

He revealed plans for a new staging of Tannhauser by French director Philippe Annaux scheduled for 2002.

Richard Wagner founded the Bayreuth festival in 1876, believing that the out-of-the-way Bavarian village would be an appropriately serious and spiritual home for his works. But Wagner died before the festival was a decade old and its management passed to his widow, Cosima, and later to his children and grandchildren.

Wolfgang Wagner is recognised for having done much in the immediate post-war period to have distanced the festival from the Nazi associations of 1933-1945.

Sat Jul 28 2001 (8:05:28 AM)

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