There were a few boos for Katarina Dalayman's Brünnhilde and even more for the director, whose "static" staging was widely criticised. Stefan Vinke (a late substitute for the inevitably ailing Ben Heppner) was praised for the stamina of his Siegfried, though some found him underpowered. Simon Rattle's conducting, variously described as fast, analytical and translucent, received mixed reviews. Only Anne Sofie von Otter's Waltraute and Mikhail Petrenko's Hagen completely escaped a critical mauling. The audience were more generous than the critics, with booers outnumbered by enthusiastic applauders.
After the recently-uncovered financial scandal threatened to torpedo it, the Festival seems to have picked itself up and dusted itself off in record time. A small but important indicator - the formerly prehistoric Festival website has finally been dragged into the 21st century. A new financing and management structure has been set up under the direction of Peter Alward (generally described in the Austrian press as 'British' Peter Alward, as if his nationality is some sort of talismanic barrier to financial impropriety).
85% of tickets have already been sold for this year's Festival, and only 5% handed out as freebies (far fewer than in the scam-hit years, Alward has hinted). Although the withdrawal of a couple of key sponsors means that this year's Festival will lose at least 880,000 euros, Alward is positive about the future, as are the Berlin Philharmonic. Their media head (and cellist) Olaf Maninger wants to expand the youth side of the programme and to reduce the ticket prices (currently €190 to €510 for opera and €90 to €240 for concerts) by up to 30 percent to "make the festival more accessible and get away from the elite Festspielhaus environment."
Here are some pictures from the Götterdämmerung dress rehearsal.
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