Barrie Kosky, an Australian theater and opera director from Melbourne who labels himself as a "Gay Jewish Kangaroo" has been invited by Katharina Wagner to direct the new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Bayreuth for the summer of 2017. The Bayreuth Festival has been trying to face up to its troubled past, which included the infamous patron-ship of Adolf Hitler who forged a friendship with the Wagner family and made the Green Hill a showplace for Third Reich politics, which of course included the banning of all homosexual and Jewish artists. In 2012, the year I visited Bayreuth an exhibition named "Verstummte Stimme" (Silenced Voices) chronicled the racial cleansing of the festival during the 1930s.
Mr. Kosky's new production will replace Katharina Wagner's own staging of her great-grandfather's work, a concept that brought ridicule and boos during its performances. Her take on Wagner's most nationalistic operas was downright irreverent including nudity, masturbating puppets of Germany's great intellectuals, and rethinking the character of Walter as an "Action-Künstler" in the vain of the late Christoph Schlingensief.
Here is a taste of her departing Meistersinger:
It will be interesting to see what Mr. Kosky comes up with. Nuremberg, with its infamous anti-Semitic past will surely fire the imagination of the director. Perhaps a Meistersinger that takes place in the shtetl filled with deeply rooted Yiddishkeit? Why not! When the director was asked about the leading positions held by Jews in the Berlin cultural
institutions, Kosky responded : "the more Jews the better... bring it on!"