Parsifal Update and Bayreuth Festival 2016 Rings The Changes



From last September Katharina Wagner has been the sole festival director on the Green Hill and will be so until at least 2020. It was her half-sister Eva Wagner-Pasquier who was mainly responsible for casting but is now only a consultant so all this is now the responsibility of Katharina Wagner and her music director, Christian Thielemann. So 2016 sees an almost wholesale culling of the performers recently seen in the Wagner operas there to give many new names their debut at the Bayreuth Festival.

Stefan Vinke was brought in last year by Katharina Wagner to replace Lance Ryan as Siegfried in Frank Castorf’s Ring and he returns after a successful summer. Few singers remain since 2013 but these are most notably Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde and Nadine Weissmann as Erda. Kirill Petrenko now longer conducts and the much-respected Marek Janowski makes a belated debut. A former Wotan, Albert Dohmen, now appears for the first time as Alberich. If Catherine Foster is a British singer few in the UK will know, more familiar names such as Sarah Connolly and Iain Paterson appear as Fricka and the Rheingold Wotan. Wotan in Siegfried is John Lundgren (another debutant who will also sing the Dutchman) and Thomas J. Mayer is the Wanderer. Also singing at Bayreuth for the first time is Roberto Saccà who sings Loge replacing John Daszak who made a good impression in 2015. Stephen Milling returns as Hagen, Marina Prudenskaja sings Waltraute for the first time, another Brit Christopher Ventris takes over from Johan Botha as Siegmund with Jennifer Wilson replacing Anja Kampe as Sieglinde. Intriguingly a Bayreuth favourite since 1996, Kwangchul Youn, is nowhere to be seen this year.

Uwe Eric Laufenberg’s new Parsifal is eagerly awaited and will now be conducted by Harmut Haenchen (see below). Another always much-lauded Bayreuth singer, Klaus Florian Vogt, sings Parsifal before moving on to Stolzing in 2017 when he will be replaced by this year’s new Erik, Andreas Schager. Georg Zeppenfeld for the first time is Gurnemanz, Ryan McKinny is the new Amfortas, Gerd Grochowski is Klingsor and Elena Pankratova will be Kundry replacing the previously announced Petra Lang.

It is all change in Der fliegende Holländer: British singers are doing better at Bayreuth than they sometimes do at Covent Garden and Peter Rose replaces Kwangchul Youn as Daland and as mentioned above John Lundgren takes over from Samuel Youn in the title role with Andreas Schager as Erik.

Finally, for Tristan und Isolde – which sees the least number of changes – there is the most intriguing role debut of all those this summer on the Green Hill, Petra Lang – the almost legendary Ortrud in the Lohengrin which ended in 2015 – will make her role debut as Isolde. Katharina Wagner’s production was well received in its first outing but is likely to see some changes as usual in its second year. The exceptional Wagnerian Christian Thielemann conducts again.

I will report on Parsifal, Tristan and Holländer for this site in August but sadly will miss this year’s Wagner für Kinder which is always a festival highlight for me when I’m there at the right time. This year they will put on Der fliegende Holländer – for children and all those young at heart – from 25 July to 5 August.

Siegfried Jerusalem will host a series of masterclasses from 10 to 13 August 2016 in the auditorium of the Markgräfin-Wilhelmine-Gymnasium Bayreuth and it ends with a final public concert in the Balkonsaal Stadthalle Bayreuth on 14 August at 13.30. Admission to the final concert is free and reservation of seats in advance is not possible.

For more details about everything at the 2016 Bayreuth Festival visit

Jim Pritchard



  1. Jim Pritchard says:

    Just announced today – With the “utmost respect” for the management of the Bayreuth Festival, the director and his team, the assistant conductor, the entire cast, the orchestra and chorus, Andris Nelsons has requested the management of the Bayreuth Festival to terminate his contract for the new production of ‘Parsifal’ this summer.

    Unfortunately, the circumstances seem not to have allowed the atmosphere at this year’s Bayreuth Festival which Andris Nelsons believes he needs for his artistic work. With regret, the Bayreuth Festival have agreed to rescind his contract.

    In a separate announcement Andris Nelsons says as follows: “With utmost respect to the Bayreuth Festival’s management and staff, director and his team, assistant conductors, cast, orchestra and chorus, Andris Nelsons has asked the Festival’s management to rescind his contract for this summer’s production of ‘Parsifal’. Owing to a differing approach in various matters, the atmosphere at this year’s Bayreuth Festival did not develop in a mutually comfortable way for all parties. With regret, the Bayreuth Festival agreed to Andris Nelsons’ request.”

    5 July – it was announced that Hartmut Haenchen will take over this production from Andris Nelsons – he is the former music director of Dutch National Opera but has never conducted at Bayreuth before. Katharina Wagner said: ‘I am very grateful to Maestro Haenchen that at short notice he declared himself willing to take over the baton of the new production and we look forward to his first participation at the Bayreuth Festival.’

    In a further change to the previously announced casting Thomas J Mayer now sings the Dutchman and has swapped his role as the Wanderer in the ‘Ring’ with John Lundgren who was originally to sing the title role in ‘Der fliegende Holländer’.

  2. Haenchen has released a superior recording of ‘Parsifal’, am so much looking forward to his debut in Bayreuth.

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Musikfest Berlin 2020 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month