Israeli orchestra to play in Bayreuth despite Wagner taboo
The Israel Chamber Orchestra has no plans to cancel its planned appearance at next year's Wagner Festival in Germany, despite the negative reactions at home, the orchestra's spokeswoman Merav Magen Lelie said Wednesday, dpa reported
Richard Wagner's music has long been taboo in Israel, because of the composer's anti-Semitism, and his status as a favourite of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. While the boycott of his music in Israel has not been absolute, Wagner's music does not regularly feature on Israeli concert programmes.
However a planned visit to Israel by Wagner's great-granddaughter, Katharina Wagner, the head of the annual Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, has been cancelled.
Reports of her visit, details of which were leaked before the announcement was made, caused outrage in some quarters in Israel. Holocaust survivor Noah Klinger was quoted as saying that such a step would be a capitulation, after years of boycotting the composer's work.
Festival spokesman Peter Emmerich expressed understanding of the negative reactions in Israel, saying they had to be respected so long as Holocaust survivors were still alive in the country.
At the same time, he told the German Press Agency dpa, "the power of music and making music together" could also help create understanding and a dialogue.
Israel Chamber Orchestra Musical Director Roberto Paternostro said Wednesday that he also respected the attitude of those for whom Wagner's music had traumatic associations.
But, he said, the presence of Jewish musicians in Wagner's festival city should be seen as a "positive sign of rapproachment, tolerance and an open, historically conscious cultural exchange" between Israel and Germany.
The Israel Chamber Orchestra's appearance at the festival in Bayreuth will mark the first by an Israeli orchestra.
The orchestra plans to perform Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, as well as works by Jewish composers Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelsson and give the German premier to a piece by contemporary Israel composer Tzvi Avni.