Wagner Notes

December 2023

“I had the privilege to attend the Bayreuth Festival on the scholarship program in August of 2021. I was not prepared for what I was about to witness during my stay. Everything about Bayreuth during that time of year is centered wholly around the artistry and discussion of Wagner’s works, and the scholarship program was certainly no exception. I can truthfully say that I have never experienced such a rapid succession of profound artistic experiences one after another than I did during my stay. Seeing Wagner’s dramas in the Festspielhaus is an unparalleled experience, thanks to its revolutionary design and exceptional acoustics, leaving the viewer completely engrossed in the sonic and dramatic worlds of his creation. And whenever the music wasn’t playing, discussions unfolded among my peers—a diverse group of talented artists with backgrounds ranging from stage directors and philosophy students to singers and musicians. These conversations would fill the entirety of the two hour-long intermissions of each performance and would often continue late into the early hours of the morning. The team from the Richard Wagner Scholarship Foundation in Bayreuth, responsible for planning our visit, enriched the week with additional memorable experiences, including tours, receptions, a concert for artists on the scholarship program, and time to fully embrace the Bayreuth experience. Gustav Mahler’s description of his experience in Bayreuth resonated with my own. He wrote: ‘When I came out of the Festspielhaus, I realized that I had undergone the greatest and most soul-searching experience of my life and that I would carry that experience with me for the rest of my days.’ I suspect that there are many more pilgrimages to this special place in store for me after this first magnificent experience. I am grateful to the Wagner Society of New York, the Richard Wagner Scholarship Foundation for this extraordinary journey and for the enduring friendships I made along the way.”