Much has been written about the historical backgrounds of the Regietheater in opera, also in Opera Gazet. We can deal with historical explanations exhaustively as much as we like, but in the meantime we are stuck with it: the drifting Regietrash constantly flows through the sewers of European opera houses, the handkerchief with eau-de-cologne can no longer compete with it.
The Regietheater is an evil and malignant phenomenon that has been able to take hold without encountering any significant opposition. People will look in vain for intellectual justification. Regietrash is an expression of a so-called “modern sense of life”, a cherished gem in the cultural baggage of Today’s People; if you don’t surrender to it, you belong to a fossil generation that polishes its 78 rpm records every week and with melancholy look at the signed photo of Magda Olivero hanging on the wall.
There is no well-drafted story with reasons why a libretto does not need to be respected. One gets no further than nonsensical one-liners. The fallacies with which Johnny Modern tries to justify the Entführung aus dem Serail placed in a brothel have long been known. There is a kind of top-50. We have listed 10 of them. Here is the eighth one.
Wagner said it himself: “KINDER MACHT NEUES!”
Yes, Wagner said: „Kinder macht Neues“ (or „Kinder schafft Neues“). This quote has absolutely nothing to do with Regietheater. It is a quote from a letter to Liszt, in which Wagner denounced Berlioz for continuously tinkering with his Benvenuto Cellini. Wagner meant: “Children make new compositions” He certainly did not mean: “Kinder schafft Regietheater”. Wagner did not say: let the Rheintöchter become prostitutes or let Castorf work in my Festspielhaus. He did not say let Venus drive a caravan and transform Tannhäuser into a weirdo show from the funny farm, as Tobais Kratzer did in Bauyreuth 2019 (see video below). We all know that Wagner, who grew up in the romantic tradition of Beethoven, Weber and Heinrich Marschner, created a new type of opera, the Musikdrama, revolutionizing not only the formal structures of opera, but shifting harmonic rules with the Tristan Chord. “Kinder, Papa Wagner hat Neues gemacht!” Wagner cared a lot about the sets, costumes and stage machinery for the performances of his works – he was very frustrated about the technical limits of his time, and, for instance, was very upset about the disappointing dragon in the staging of the Siegfried World Premiere. Wagner was indeed the champion of the Performance Faithful to the Libretto.
Tannhäuser from the Funny Farm, run by Tobias Kratzer. 2019, Bayreuth.