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The Board of Directors of the Bayreuth Festival also wants to deal with the allegations of sexism that became known on Friday at its next meeting. “These are outrageous allegations,” said the chairman of the board of directors, Georg von Waldenfels, to the press on Saturday. There is “no mistake at all that we will pursue this with all seriousness and intransigence”.

The start of the festival this Monday will be overshadowed by a MeToo debate, according to a report by the “Nordbayerischer Kurier” about sexual assault and verbal sexual innuendo in the Festspielhaus. Festival boss Wagner had confirmed that she was also affected, but emphasized that she had known how to defend herself. On Saturday, she added that she had “acted very, very clearly”.

As the festival boss, she is not in any way dependent. She can understand that women who are not as high up in the hierarchy as she is are afraid to talk about abuse. She wants to take this fear away from women.

She called on them to get in touch – also anonymously via a mailbox or letters that could be pushed under their office door.

Regardless of the attacks, allegations against the former music director Christian Thielemann, who conducted “Lohengrin” this year, had also become known. He is said to have made misogynistic comments because two bass players in the orchestra were too much for him. Thielemann had rejected these allegations as well as the one that he made a mistake here and there.

Waldenfels said he confronted Thielemann with the allegations. He didn’t complain that there were two women on bass, but that there were two new faces and he didn’t like the composition of the orchestra with many new musicians. It had nothing to do with the gender of the bass players. The two women also stated to Waldenfels that Thielemann had treated them very courteously.

The festival, which this year was also struggling with the corona pandemic and a total of 80 infections in the team so far, also tried in the press conference to draw attention away from the debate and towards what was happening on stage this year will be seen. In addition to the new production of Wagner’s mammoth work known as “Netflix-Ring” by Valentin Schwarz, there is also a new “Tristan” on the program. “You can look forward to Monday,” emphasized Wagner.

She also announced the commitment of the second female conductor in the history of the Festival: After Oksana Lyniv made her debut last year as the first woman to conduct the Festspielhaus, Nathalie Stutzmann will conduct next year. She takes over the musical direction of the revival of Tannhäuser.

The 57-year-old Stutzmann comes from France. In the coming 2022/23 season, she will be the first woman to take on the position of music director with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Stutzmann is currently working as Principal Conductor of the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra in Norway and as Principal Guest Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Intendant Wagner meanwhile ties her future at the Bayreuth Festival to the demand for reforms. “In my view, a change in certain structures is actually unavoidable. It also depends to a large extent on whether and how I can imagine more years as festival director,” said the great-granddaughter of composer Richard Wagner in a dpa interview.

“Certain things simply have to be professionalized,” emphasized Wagner. When asked what these are from her point of view, she did not want to say. “First of all, this should be discussed within the GmbH and not yet publicly.” In her view, “above all, structures in the GmbH” need to change. Wagner’s contract runs until 2025.