Wagner Bicentenary: The Mayhem Continues

It’s the bicenterary of Richard Wagner’s birth and his Bayreuth festival is underway. This Independent article reminds us that the history of Wagner and his family, down to the present day, is every bit as colorful and nasty as anything depicted in Wagner’s operas. Here’s what I didn’t know: Wagner’s widow, Cosima, ‘made sure Bayreuth stayed a family project and appointed her son Siegfried to succeed her…Siegfried was bisexual in a family that regarded homosexuality as worse than Judaism. A number of potential scandals were expensively suppressed until Cosima virtually ordered her 45-year-old son to marry…In the 1930s the heldentenor Max Lorenz was one of a number of singers entrapped by the police for soliciting in a Bayreuth urinal. He was only released when Winifred, now running the festival, made a personal appeal to Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer’s view was that Lorenz, as a Jew and homosexual, was not a suitable person to sing Tristan. Winifred replied that without Lorenz she might have to close Bayreuth, and he was released.’

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