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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Domingo joins Bayreuth row
Placido Domingo
Domingo: Was due to take part in this year's festival
Opera star Placido Domingo has said he is unlikely to perform at the prestigious Bayreuth festival again after falling out with the event's director Wolfgang Wagner.

Bayreuth is one of the most prestigious events in the musical calendar - but a bitter row has ensued since Wolfgang Wagner, 81, refused to loosen his grip on control of the festival.

Domingo was due to sing at this year's Bayreuth, but will not take part after a battle of wills with Wolfgang Wagner.

Wolfgang Wagner at this year's festival with daughter Katharina
Wolfgang Wagner attended this year's festival with daughter Katharina
"At my age, it looks as if the latest separation marks the conclusion of my Bayreuth era," he is reported to have told German newspaper Der Spiegel.

The festival, held in Bavaria, Germany, was established by Wolfgang's grandfather, composer Richard, in 1876.

Domingo had been offered the role of Seigmund in this year's performance of Richard Wagner's Die Walküre - but that role will now be taken by Robert Dean Smith.

It was reported that Wolfgang was unhappy at the amount of time Domingo spent on rehearsal.

"Nothing is worse for all concerned than when people start asking out aloud or quietly: 'When is this man going to go?'" Domingo told the newspaper.

Defiant

"It is a tragic story, this farewell."

Wolfgang Wagner has been running the event for 1951, and it has always been in the Wagner family.

Bayreuth Festival
The event was founded by Richard Wagner in 1876
He has defiantly remained in control of the event, despite criticism and attempts by other members of the Wagner dynasty to take over.

Earlier this year, the board tried to force Wolfgang Wagner to step down in favour of his estranged daughter Eva Wagner-Pasquier.

But he has refused to relinquish the position, arguing that he holds a lifetime contract with Bayreuth.

'Too conservative'

Eva Wagner-Pasquier has since said she is not interested in the position as long as her father refuses to leave.

Another contender is Wolfgang Wagner's niece Nike, who has teamed up with the director of the Stuttgart State Opera Klaus Zehelein to apply for the position.

Wolfgang Wagner's directorship has been increasingly criticized as too conservative, and some singers and musicians have complained about what they call his autocratic style - and his tendency to offer only one-year contracts.

Serious and spiritual

But the director has disputed these accusations, saying his only concern is for the future of the festival.

The event is held in the out-of-the-way Bavarian village of Bayreuth, which Richard Wagner believed would be an appropriately serious and spiritual home for his works.

Richard Wagner died before the festival was a decade old and its management passed to his widow, Cosima, and later to his children and grandchildren.

Wolfgang Wagner is perceived to have done much in the immediate post-war period to have distanced the festival from the Nazi associations of 1933-1945.

See also:

10 Jul 01 | Music
Domingo is homeward bound
23 Jun 01 | Music
Tenors hit high notes in China
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