Richard Wagner and Festival Theatre

By Simon Williams | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
The Dying Magus

Two weeks after the close of the festival, when the Wagners left Bayreuth for a holiday in Italy, there was every indication that they intended to hold a second festival in 1877. This would give Wagner an opportunity to correct the faults that had marred the initial Ring performances. While they were in Italy, however, Feustel sent news that the deficit was much larger than anyone had anticipated, almost 150,000 marks. Still on holiday, Wagner suggested schemes by which the money could be recouped, whether by a renewed appeal to the patrons or a plan whereby Prussia or Bavaria might take over the festival and run it as a national theatre. But none of these succeeded, for the commercial and political worlds proved to be indifferent to the fate of Wagner's enterprise. Soon after returning to Bayreuth in December 1876, he accepted that the 1877 festival would not take place. In actual fact, the theatre did not reopen until 1882.

Wagner, never one to admit defeat, continued to work to save the festival. Encouraged by reports from a London music agency that he might make a fortune giving concerts in the newly constructed Albert Hall, he traveled in May 1877 to the British capital with an entourage of Bayreuth artists, intending to give twenty concerts to capacity houses of 10,000 each. Unfortunately, only six concerts could be arranged, and, while they attracted large audiences, the revenue they generated was minimal and did nothing to pay off the Bayreuth deficit. While the Wagners' visit to London was a financial fiasco, it was an artistic and social success. The concerts were received with enthusiasm and gave the British an extended introduction to Wagner's music, which prepared for the flood of his music

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Richard Wagner and Festival Theatre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Chapter 1 - The Fiery Conformist 1
  • Notes 17
  • Chapter 2 Bohemian in Paris 19
  • Notes 29
  • Chapter 3 - Kapellmeister in Dresden 31
  • Notes 52
  • Chapter 4 - Revolutionary in Exile 53
  • Notes 75
  • Chapter 5 - Romantic in Exile 77
  • Notes 90
  • Chapter 6 - The King's Friend 91
  • Notes 109
  • Chapter 7 - The Master of Bayreuth 111
  • Notes 131
  • Chapter 8 - The Dying Magus 133
  • Notes 145
  • Chapter 9 - Wagner's Theatrical Legacy 147
  • Notes 161
  • Chronology of Wagner's Life 163
  • Further Reading 171
  • Index 177
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