Berlin-based Australian original will direct a new Meistersinger in 2017.

Katharina Wagner has announced that Barrie Kosky will direct a new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for Bayreuth in 2017. The future plans were revealed at a press conference during the opening night celebrations at this year’s Wagner Festival. The one time bad-boy of Australian theatre, Kosky will become the first Aussie to direct in the history of the iconic Festival. “Significantly, he will be the most experienced Wagnerian stage director invited to Bayreuth since the demise of Wolfgang Wagner,” says Australian Wagner expert Peter Bassett.

Katharina Wagner, the composer’s great-granddaughter, has shared the directorship at Bayreuth with her half-sister Eva Wagner-Pasquier since the death of her father Wolfgang but the latter is due to quit the Festival at the end of the current season. The artistic standards at Bayreuth have come in for criticism in recent years but Kosky, currently artistic director of Berlin’s popular Komische Oper is seen as a safe pair of hands – a far cry from the days when the late James Waites likened him to Frank Castorf, the director of last year’s controversial Ring cycle. Despite an initial reported reluctance to stage his works, Kosky has directed Lohengrin previously (in Vienna in 2005) as well as The Flying Dutchman at Sydney (1996) and Essen (2006), and the complete Ring of the Nibelung at Hannover (2009-11): “There is no escape from Wagner!” he told an Australian newspaper recently.

Kosky’s new production will be conducted by Philippe Jordan and will star Michael Volle as the cobbler Hans Sachs – a role he can be seen performing to great acclaim in Stefan Herheim’s recent Salzburg production (now out on DVD and to be reviewed shortly in Limelight). Klaus Florian Vogt will play Walther von Stolzing with Krassimira Stoyanova as Eva and Johannes Martin Kränzle singing Beckmesser.

Among other future plans are Katharina Wagner’s own new production of Tristan und Isolde with Eva-Maria Westbroek and Steven Gould (to be unveiled next year) and Jonathan Meese’s much discussed Parsifal in 2016 to be conducted by Andris Nelsons. Meese is notorious for a recent court-case in which he defended his use of the Hitler salute in a piece of performance art and has allegedly pledged to avoid similar shock tactics at Bayreuth. A new production of Lohengrin in 2018 will be conducted by Christian Thielemann and directed by Alvis Hermanis and will star Anna Netrebko as Elsa. 2019 will feature a new Tannhäuser, directed by the young German director Tobias Kratzer and there will be a new Ring Cycle in 2020, director to be confirmed.

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