New "Parsifal" at the Bayreuth Festival only in a slimmed-down form
Created: 2022-12-15, 4:16 p.m
By: Markus Thiel
Discover new worlds - soon also in the Bayreuth Festspielhaus: here the model of augmented reality glasses from Nreal.
The dispute over the unusual staging of the new Bayreuth "Parsifal" has - for the time being - been settled.
Not everyone in the Festspielhaus now gets computer glasses.
The case reveals a problem that lies much deeper.
The good news is: There will be a new Bayreuth "Parsifal" in 2023.
Albeit in a slimmed-down form or as a compromise.
However, most people in the Festspielhaus will not be able to experience what makes this version of the Grail drama so unique and sensational.
This requires so-called augmented reality glasses (AR).
But of the 1937 visitors, only 330 will be able to enjoy the artificial computer worlds, as Ulrich Jagels, managing director of the festival, has confirmed.
The background is a dispute about the financial resources required for this and ultimately also about an artistic self-image.
Our newspaper reported back in September that a rift had opened up between festival director Katharina Wagner and the Society of Friends of Bayreuth around its chairman Georg von Waldenfels.
The festival's private co-financiers favor dignified to conservative productions and have little use for the engagement of "Parsifal" director Jay Scheib.
Jay Scheib, director of the new Parsifal.
The American would like to use the AR glasses to expand the events on stage with computer-generated worlds.
The "Parsifal", said Scheib a few months ago, is particularly suitable for this concept.
"It's about a mysterious land of magic, about religion, about the penetration of different universes, about changing our world." However, the dawn of a new staging aesthetic has its price.
And the audience has to support that.
Apart from that, AR technology is not offered for all seats.
"So that the glasses can be used optimally, the seats are provided in the back rows of the stalls and in the first rows of the boxes, the balcony and the gallery," says Managing Director Jagels.
“This means seats with AR glasses are available in different seat and price categories.
If you want glasses, you pay a “percentage surcharge”.
As can be heard from those around the festival, it should be a maximum of 80 euros.
Jagels did not provide any information on the acquisition costs of the glasses.
With the technology that was never used in Bayreuth, Katharina Wagner basically follows the credo of her great-grandfather Richard: "Children, create something new." In the meantime, there have already been the first demonstrations of Jay Scheib's virtual "Parsifal" worlds on the Green Hill.
The fact that only 330 glasses are used in the performances must be a bitter disappointment for the director and for Katharina Wagner.
Festival director Katharina Wagner is on a confrontational course with the traditionalists.
© Nicolas Armer
The struggle for artificial reality reveals how Bayreuth is doing.
Festival management and sponsors only maintain a reasonably orderly working relationship.
The common basis is getting narrower and narrower.
The ideas about how the future of the festival should look are far too different.
The complex to encrusted organizational structure is also to blame for the misery.
In recent years, for example, there have been repeated complaints that financial plans can be drawn up far too late.
This problem is exacerbated by the current crisis situation.
It is not only unclear to the festival, but also to many other cultural institutions, whether all planned projects can be realized at all in the coming years.
In the Bayreuth case, the premieres after the "Parsifal" year are in danger of shaking.
Who gets “Parsifal” glasses anyway?
The coming summer seems secured for now.
Nevertheless, a lot is still open: Who will be able to enjoy AR glasses if the demand is too high?
Will be solved?
Or do you just have to be quick?
But maybe the classic Bayreuth fan is too skeptical about the new technology, and the festival doesn't even have to hand out all glasses.
And the biggest question of all: will the number of glasses be increased in the years that follow when “Parsifal” continues?
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Fancy a journey of discovery?
"I think this is a very exciting step," comments André Bücker on the Bayreuth project.
His State Theater Augsburg is a pioneer in artificial stage worlds.
However, the cheaper, somewhat simpler technology with virtual reality glasses (VR) is used there.
These are much larger than the AR glasses that Bayreuth wants to work with.
As far as the VR projects are concerned, "everything works perfectly," says Bücker.
His house bought 500 pairs of glasses.
Two years ago, Augsburg first caused a stir when they were used in Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" and, among other things, one flew through an antique Arcadia animated on the computer.
There are now hybrid productions with live and VR events as well as complete VR projects, for which you can borrow glasses.
A Bayreuth delegation will soon want to get an impression of the Augsburg pilot productions, the "Orfeo" will be resumed at the beginning of February.
The next step follows in the spring, when Augsburg releases Schönberg's “Erwartung” – as a video game.