Controversial director drops out of Bayreuth negotiations

Yuval Sharon looks likely to be the director for Lohengrin at Bayreuth Festival in 2018, after Latvian Alvis Hermanis pulled out of the negotiations.

American Sharon made his European debut in 2015 with a production of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic in Karlsruhe, Germany, that won the Götz-Friedrich Prize for opera houses. His recent production of Wagner’s Valkyrie also received critical acclaim.

Hermanis on the other hand would have been a controversial appointment, as the director has been criticised for his views on refugees. In 2015 he cancelled a production at Thalia Theatre in Hamburg, citing the theatre’s work with refugees as the reason. Hermanis believes that Germany’s open-borders policy should be scrapped as it allows terrorists into the country.

Bayreuth marketing director Peter Emmerich said that Hermanis’ views did not have a direct impact on the decision, although he added that it could have caused ‘difficulties’ for the festival.

Wagner’s writings on Jewish people, and the popularity of his music among senior members of the Nazi party, mean the festival has to be particularly careful when making appointments. In 2012 bass-baritone Yevgeny Nikitin was dropped from the festival over a tattoo on the singer’s chest that appeared to represent a swastika. Nikitin denied the claims.

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