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Estival Festivals: News Break

All is not well on the Green Hill, as the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, Wagner's hallowed theater, is known to initiates. Today, the service trade union "Verdi" is in talks with the festival administration that will decide whether or not a strike cripples this summer's festival, due to open on July 25th with "Tristan und Isolde." Stagehands, lighting technicians, and freelance staff (a large part of this summer-only enterprise) are protesting their low hourly wage, which they accepted under the leadership of Wolfgang Wagner, the composer's grandson, but would like to renegotiate under the current new management of Wolfgang's daughters Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Katharina Wagner. Stay tuned.

The co-directors have had their own artistic concerns in the last couple of weeks: on July 3, Eva presided over the opening of the last opera in the Simon Rattle/Stéphane Braunschweig Ring cycle in Aix-en-Provence (co-produced with the Salzburg Easter Festival), where she has served in an advisory capacity for years; and on July 11 Katharina oversaw the premiere of her new "Tannhäuser" production at the struggling opera house in Las Palmas on the Canary Islands -- a production so plagued with technical difficulties that she ended up having to buy some of the sets herself at Ikea.

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At this weekend's "Beggar's Opera" at the new Castleton Festival, Lorin Maazel announced the dates for the festival's second year: July 2-18, 2010. No confirmation of whether the focus on Britten will continue, but the program will include two new productions of chamber operas as well as a revival of one production from this year's festival.

By Anne Midgette  |  July 13, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  festivals , news , opera  
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