Jonathan Meese was never one to go quietly. Dismissed by the Bayreuth Festival, which had hired him to direct a new production of Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal, the controversial German performance artist has launched an angry attack on his former employers, Art Daily reports.
Given his inexperience in the field, Meese’s appointment was surprising and highly contentious. Festival organizers eventually decided to fire the artist because they claimed the production he was planning would have been dangerously over-budget. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Meese called the reason they invoked to justify his sacking “a pretext.”
“The Bayreuth Festival is no longer concerned about art, but self preservation, power, and the battle against its declining relevance,” Meese told the German weekly magazine. “It’s a culture of giving and taking orders. They intimidate, they are cynical liars and try to manipulate art and people.” The artist concluded that “Art has no place in Bayreuth. Meese didn’t fail with Wagner, Bayreuth failed with Meese.”
The dismissal has put festival organizers under pressure to find a suitable replacement at very short notice.
Presenting exclusively works by its founder Richard Wagner, the Bayreuth Opera Festival is considered to be one of premier opera festivals in the world.
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