Three female descendants of composer Richard Wagner battled Monday for the contract to run the Bayreuth Wagnerian opera festival in Germany, with the likely loser pleading to her cousin not to switch sympathies.
Half-sisters Eva Wagner-Pasquier, 63, and Katharina Wagner, 29, have drawn into the lead after Katharina foretold a joint proposal to take over the festival from their father, Wolfgang, 88. The festival board meets April 29. ( dpa )
Nike Wagner, 62, Wolfgang's niece, expressed anger Monday that Eva was being asked to break a pact between the two older women. Katharina confirmed she had made up with her sister. Eva was silent.
As if that were not operatic enough, opera lovers noted that Wolfgang's rejection 32 years ago of Eva and begrudging re-acceptance of her resembles the plot of the Wagner opera Ring of the Nibelungs, where Wotan throws out his favourite daughter Bruennhilde.
Running Bayreuth is one of Germany's last inherited offices.
Bavarian Minister of Culture Thomas Goppel called Monday on Katharina and Eva to draft a joint proposal.
After years of deadlock over the succession, many German opera fans have voiced relief at Katharina's offer of compromise and are hoping Eva, who was offered the job by the board in 2001, will accept, despite memories of her father calling her "incompetent.
Katharina, who has already directed one Bayreuth opera, told a German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, she could not promise joint leadership with Eva would work, "but I suppose it will because I consider it a very good solution.
A spokesman for Eva Wagner-Pasquier, who is co-director of a French arts festival at Aix-en-Provence, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa she did not wish to comment and the media should await April 29.
Nike, who runs the Weimar festival of the arts in Germany, insisted to dpa she could run Bayreuth jointly with Eva and said she would "greatly deplore" it if her cousin were to defect to Eva, but said she would not use the term "betrayal" for this.
She accused widower Wolfgang of blackmailing the board to favour his offspring.
"He won't consider retiring unless his own blood gets the job," she said. "The blood in my veins is that of his brother Wieland.
Asked if all three women could run the festival as a trio, she said, "Never. There would be endless arguments.
Toni Schmid, chairman of the festival trust board, sought Monday to defuse expectations, warning that the April 29 meeting might not necessarily settle the issue for once and for all.