B1666. Hans Mayer. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth – 1876 – 1976, (Trans. Jack Zipes). New York, Rizzoli, 1976. 248pp. Index; DJ. Profusely illustrated with numerous beautiful full-page photos. Handsome Quarto Edition.
"’I need a theater as only I can build it. It is possible that in the theaters in which [my works] are represented our operatic nonsense - including classics - where everything, staging, interpretation, effect required is essentially at odds with what I demand for myself and my work, they may find a real ground'. So Richard Wagner wrote in a letter of 1861 his friend Hans von Bülow. (Wagner married his second wife, Cosima, formerly the wife of von Bülow). The construction of a theater that celebrated only his work was finally realized in Bayreuth in 1876. And is the beginning of an adventure, documented and told in this book of Hans Mayer: the extraordinary symbiosis of a great artist and an entire town, the theater of Bayreuth, with its hundred years of existence, is the story of a monarch’s music and the splendors and miseries of his dynasty; but in the book of Mayer all this also turns in the history of a company, the German culture. From financial setbacks of the first festival to ideological excesses of the years of National Socialism; the expulsion, after the war, Winifred, the daughter of Wagner, for his friendship with Hitler, the failed attempt to put the festival in the hands of Thomas Mann; the new interpretation of MEISTERSINGER violently contested by the public in 1956 to the revival pursued by Wieland Wagner, when you read about the programs of the Festival contributions of Ernst Bloch and Theodor W. Adorno, as dialectical interweaving of tradition and innovation, ‘as a permanent conflict’ - writes Mayer – ‘whose end is not predictable’."