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Culture

Bayreuth Board Selects Wagner's Successors

After 57 years at the helm, Wolfgang Wagner has stepped down as head of the Bayreuth festival. The competition was fierce, but after a long debate, board members have finally selected his replacement.

Photo of Katharina and Eva Wagner.

The two half sisters will hold the top spot together

Half-sisters Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier have been picked to run the Bayreuth festival of Wagner opera in Germany, sources said Monday as a board meeting ended. They are to succeed their father, Wolfgang Wagner who officially retired Sunday.

Competing against them was their estranged cousin, Nike Wagner, who was allied with opera chief and future New York City Opera director Gerhard Mortier. Nike Wagner is the daughter of Wolfgang Wagner’s brother, Wieland, who died in 1966.

Nike Wagner Kunstfest Weimar

Nike Wagner Kunstfest Weimar

Nike Wagner said in a statement that the procedure was very outlandish. She stated that she was sad about the outcome, but hopes that her cousins take the suggestions offered by her and Gerard Mortier.

“I wish them lots of luck,” she added.

Wolf Siegfried Wagner, Nike’s brother, refused to comment on behalf of the Wieland Wagner family.

The future of Bayreuth

The two great-granddaughters of Richard Wagner will now enter into contract negotiations. Unlike their father, they will not be offered lifelong contracts. Additionally the controlling share of the Bayreuth Festival GmbH, which was owned by Wolfgang Wagner, will be divided equally among the members of the board of directors.

"A joint management of the festival by both daughters of Wolfgang Wagner represents both the future and continuity of the festival," said Thomas Goppel, culture minister in the state of Bavaria, which holds seats on the festival's Stiftungsrat or board.

Toni Schmid, head of the Stiftungsrat, told a news conference that 22 members of the board had voted for Eva and Katharina, and none against.

Closeup of Wolfgang Wagner.

After 57 years Wolfgang Wagner is stepping down

Wolfgang Wagner, who turned 89 years old last Saturday, gave up his post at the end of this year’s festival after 57 years at the helm. He headed up the festival, which was founded in 1876, along with his brother Wieland until 1966.

Eva, 63, and Katharina Wagner, 30, have said they want to raise the artistic quality of the festival and modernize the media placement and marketing.

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