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Classical Music

Curtain goes up in Bayreuth - with a glitch

The world-famous Bayreuth Festival dedicated to the works of the German composer Richard Wagner has begun. The opening performance was, however, delayed by a technical misfunction.

The show must go on

The monthlong Bayreuth Festival got under way on Friday with a gala performance of Richard Wagner's opera "Tannhäuser" under the baton of the German conductor Axel Kober.

The opening performance was interrupted after 20 minutes, owing to the development of multiple cracks in the poles of a cage that comprised part of the set, with audience members being ushered out of the theater for safety reasons. The opera resumed about 50 minutes later.

The modernist "Tannhäuser" production, directed by Sebastian Baumgarten, is one that premiered in 2011, receiving mixed reviews at the time.

It sets Wagner's opera about a wandering knight-minstrel in a modern biogas plant.

Unlike in past years, the opening performance was not attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is, however, expected to travel to Bayreuth later to experience the Ring cycle of the Berlin theater director Frank Castorf.

Castorf's production of the monumental four-part work was greeted by a 20-minute chorus of booing at its premiere last year.

The director has caused more upheaval at the festival this year, accusing its directors of treating him "like an idiot" by changing one of the leading cast members and stopping him from using a right-wing poster in his production.

No new productions are scheduled for this year.

The festival first opened in 1876, having been conceived by Wagner as the best way to present his works. Waiting lists for tickets to the event can be 10 years or longer.

The festival has been directed since 2008 by the composer's great-grand-daughters, the half-sisters Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier.

tj/mkg (AFP, dpa, AP)

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