Katharina Wagner

Wolfgang Wagner and Katharina Wagner in Bayreuth

Katharina Wagner (born 1978), daughter of former Bayreuth Festival leader Wolfgang Wagner (1919-2010) and Gudrun Wagner (1944-2007) and great granddaughter of Richard Wagner, made her debut at the Wagner Festival with a production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in 2007. Since 1 September 2008 Katharina Wagner has been the general manager of the festival.


Katharina Wagner during rehearsals for her production of Lohengrin in Budapest.
Photo: Béla Mezey (thanks to Budapest Opera)

Her earlier work includes a production of Lohengrin in Budapest in which she interpreted the action as an election and Der fliegende Holländer in Würzburg.

Katharina has already started reforming the Bayreuth Festival. For the first time in the history of the Festival, a performance was transmitted to a big screen in Bayreuth town for free public viewing.

The DVD of Katharina Wagner's Meistersinger-production was released in December 2008.

Katharina Wagner directed a new production of Rienzi at Bremen Theater (October 2008).

Katharina’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Bayreuth Festival

Katharina Wagner rehearsing for her debut at the Bayreuth Festival with a new production of Die Meisteringer von Nürnberg (premiere 2007).

A DVD documentary about Katharina Wagner's Meistersinger debut was released in 2008.



Das Blut, es wallt mit Allgewalt, geschwellt von neuem Gefühle. Walther von Stolzing (Klaus Florian Vogt) sings for the mastersingers.
Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele/Jochen Quast



Walther von Stolzing (Klaus Florian Vogt) and Beckmesser (Michael Volle) - both superb - in Katharina Wagner's production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Act 1.
(Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele/Enrico Nawrath



Was deutsch und echt, wüßt keiner mehr: Norbert Ernst (David) and Carola Guber (Magdalene) with twelve German masters.
Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele/Jochen Quast

Reviews etc.

Not only is the intellectual underpinning of the production thought-provoking and largely convincing, the show is also full of stunning theatrical spectacle, especially in Act III. A less satisfactory aspect, however, concerns the Personenregie, or lack of it. By this I mean the director's craft of working with the singer-actors to develop their characterization through line-by-line assimilation of the text and score--above all, working as an ensemble on the kind of detailed character interaction that is the stuff of true Wagner music drama. This, it seems to me, is a serious weakness at Bayreuth at the moment. For all the intellectual input into this production of Die Meistersinger, and for all its brilliantly imaginative theatricality, the level of Personenregie remained disappointingly low.
Barry Millington in Opera Canada


Baptism of Fire (German: Katharina Wagners Feuertaufe)

Katharina Wagner's Baptism of Fire is a 82 minute documentary about Katharina Wagner and the preparations for her debut at Bayreuth with her great grandfather's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Katharina Wagner is the first female stage director at the Bayreuth Festival. She is also the youngest. Her so called Regietheater production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg premiered in 2007, and featured - among other things - a male nude having sex with a sex doll. For the 2008 performances the sex doll was removed, making the Beckmesser performance less provocative.

In the documentary about Katharinas Meistersinger production we follow the rehearsal work. For the first time in the history of the Bayreuth Festival, we can follow a production behind the scene and see the production take form.


Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Katharina Wagner's production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg gave its premiere at the Bayreuth Festival in 2007. The following year it was filmed for DVD release, transmitted live for public viewing on a big screen in Bayreuth and to the Internet public. A DVD documentary of the production was released in 2008


Franz Hawlata (Hans Sachs) and Michael Volle (Beckmesser)

Franz Hawlata (Hans Sachs) and Michael Volle (Beckmesser). Later Michael Volle took the role of Hans Sachs.



The Nuremberg copycats: no individuality, no creativity.

David (Norbert Ernst)

David by the copy machine.

Restoration work is going on at the Academy, but no creative new art.


When Sachs is kidnapped in his own home and forced to watch a performance (that among other things consists of explicit nudity), he turns into a monster. His first action is to burn the directors responsible for the performance. Katharina Wagner draws a parallell to the Nazis surpressing art they called "entartet" (degenerate). The ideological line from Wagner to Hitler is disturbing, as is the bond between Bayreuth and the Nazis.


Katharina Wagner's Lohengrin production in Budapest

Lohengrin - the struggle for political power. Photos by Béla Mezey from Katharina Wagner's production of Lohengrin in Budapest.


Selected Biographies