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Conductor Thielemann (with the Staatskapelle Berlin): Return to the Green Hill

Photo: Jakob Tillmann / dpa

Star conductor Christian Thielemann is to return to the Green Hill. As the German Press Agency learned, the Bayreuth Festival is planning again with the 64-year-old. This was announced at the most recent meeting of the Board of Directors of Festspiel-GmbH. Thielemann "will return, yes," said Festival spokesman Hubertus Herrmann when asked.

The designated general music director of the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden himself confirmed to dpa that he will conduct »Lohengrin«.

After a two-year break, the opera by Yuval Sharon, which was actually cancelled last year, will once again be on the programme of the Richard Wagner Festival in 2025 with a stage design by the artist Neo Rauch. Thielemann was also the conductor of this Bayreuth production of "Lohengrin" until last year.

The future of the star conductor on the Green Hill has recently been uncertain – even though he was inextricably linked to Germany's most famous opera festival for many years.

He had made his Bayreuth debut in the summer of 2000 with the »Meistersinger von Nürnberg«, and the long-time festival director Wolfgang Wagner, who died in 2010, was more of a foster father than a boss for him. Since then, he has "shaped the Festival every year with standard-setting interpretations," as it says on the Festival's homepage.

Thielemann is considered one of the world's best Wagner interpreters and is only the second conductor after Felix Mottl (1856-1911) to conduct all ten Wagner operas performed in Bayreuth on the Green Hill.

In 2010 he became musical advisor to the festival and five years later music director. However, he has been rid of this post since 2020. There has not really been any talk of an official post on the Green Hill for some time.

This summer, the current chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden, who had shaped the Festival musically for over a quarter of a century, was no longer even there – he is now due to return in 2025.

"Protectors" instead of "leaders"

A new production of »Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg« is also planned for the year. In the summer, Festival director Katharina Wagner announced Daniele Gatti as its conductor, who is to succeed Thielemann in Dresden in 2024.

In 2022, in the – for the time being – last year of Bayreuth's »Lohengrin« production, Thielemann and Festival Director Wagner had their differing views on the question of whether the word »Führer« should be heard in the opera in the Bayreuth Festspielhaus – where Adolf Hitler once walked in and out.

Katharina Wagner had asked the tenor Klaus Florian Vogt, who sang the title role, after the dress rehearsal, to replace the word "Führer" with "protector" at the end of the opera about the Swan Knight – to Thielemann's incomprehension.

"For me, it's always like this: the original text is the original text and you stay true to it," he told dpa in the summer. "I don't change notes – then I don't change the lyrics and ask the artists in my performances to sing the original text. But everyone sees it differently and you have to accept that."