Jonathan Meese brands Wagner festival organisers “cynical liars.”

Earlier this week the powers that be at the revered epicentre of all that is Wagnerian, the Bayreuth Festival, announced that they had dismissed one of the world famous opera celebration’s most controversial appointments. German performance artist Jonathan Meese, who is best known for his trademark shock tactics (fellating an Alien while giving a Nazi salute is just one example from Meese’s singular oeuvre), had been commissioned to direct a production of Parsifal at the 2016 festival, but was reportedly sacked for proposing a financially prohibitive vision for the show.

Meese appearing in one of his controversial stage performances.

Meese has now hit back at the Bayreuth Festival in a scathing interview in German magazine Der Spiegel. Describing the previously disclosed reason for the dismissal as a “pretext”, Meese went on to say “The Bayreuth Festival is no longer concerned about art, but about self-preservation, power and the battle against its declining relevance.”

Continuing his attack, Meese accused the festival organisers of instituting a culture of fear and intimidation at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, calling them “cynical liars who manipulate art and people.”

Despite this public outburst, Bayreuth’s commercial director, Heinz-Dieter Sense has reasserted that the decision to part ways with Meese is purely financial, saying that the proposed staging would have been “substantially over the available budget.” A replacement for Meese is yet to be announced but with a corner stone production of the 2016 festival now rudderless, the organisers will no doubt be scrambling to fill the vacant position as soon as possible.

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