Bayreuth (dpa) – It took 145 years until this moment: On Sunday, for the first time in the history of the Bayreuth Festival, a woman will stand at the conductor’s desk.
“Because there were obviously not enough female conductors,” replies festival director Katharina Wagner when asked why it took so long. But now there is one: Oksana Lyniv, most recently chief conductor of the Graz Opera, is to provide the historic moment for the opening of the festival with the Wagner opera “Der Fliegende Holländer”.
“100 years ago that would have been unthinkable, although there were also successful female conductors back then,” said Lyniv in an interview with the German Press Agency last year shortly after the announcement of her conduct. She has received news and comments from all over the world – “even from Japan”. “That the echo now – as far as my person and this debut – will be so big, I did not expect,” she said. But: “It is really special that in 2021 there will be 145 years of the Bayreuth Festival, with 92 male conductors to date and then for the first time a woman.”
She already has a decisive advantage over many male colleagues, as she stated in an interview with “Deutsche Welle”: “I can see the stage well and can conduct standing up, so I’m just the right size. Because this trench is tailor-made for Richard Wagner. ” Wagner, the music giant, was only 1.66 meters tall and thus significantly smaller than many male conductors today. Perhaps, she suspects, some of them are conducting while seated.
Exactly Richard Wagner’s size
The 43 year old Lyniv will stand upright in the famous and notorious orchestra pit. “The fact that I can stand here as a woman at the desk is perhaps also a symbol of our time,” she said in an interview with DW. «Of course I hope to provide a positive example. That would not only be important for me personally, but also – to put it pathetically – for the world and for the future. “
Before her engagement in Graz, Lyniv was assistant to star conductor Kirill Petrenko at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. “Interestingly, it is almost symbolic for me that the first performance of Kirill Petrenko that I saw after I had received from him the promise to become his musical assistant at the Bavarian State Opera was“ Die Walküre ”in Bayreuth”, said Lyniv of the dpa. “This was my very first visit to Bayreuth at the time.”
In the following years she was able to experience Petrenko’s conducting of the four-part “Ring des Nibelungen” from the orchestra pit. In 2018 the invitation came from Bayreuth to conduct there himself.
For the native Ukrainian, Richard Wagner is “of course a special composer”. In the former Soviet Union, however, his music had “almost a negative status” and “was unfortunately hardly played.” “The first thing I heard about Wagner during my college days was that one of the reasons why he was performed so rarely was because his operas were so long and too complicated,” said Lyniv. “But that was precisely what spurred me on to get to know this controversial and mysterious composer.”
You then dealt in detail with Wagner. “So I sat for days over the piano reductions of his operas from the library and listened to old recordings on vinyl records that could be borrowed and was totally absorbed in this music,” she said. “At the time I couldn’t have believed that one day I would be able to conduct one of his pieces at Green Hill myself. She has already performed the “Dutchman” once: in 2017 at the Teatro del Liceu Barcelona.
She has now prepared intensively for her new “Dutchman” and, as she said in the “DW” interview, was also in Meudon near Paris, where Wagner was working on his “Dutchman” as a young man. “Bitter poor, failed, disappointed with the failure at the Grand Opera,” said Lyniv. «And this youthful anger, this urge for the motto« I’ll show you all »- that can be heard from the first bar of the« Holländers ». That was exactly the key for me. One cannot perceive and interpret this work from the position of the mature Wagner. “
Festival director Wagner is “excited to see how Ms. Lyniv will master the challenging task here in the special Bayreuth orchestra pit,” she says. Lyniv himself emphasizes to the “Deutsche Welle”: “Because I’m a woman, the” Dutch “score is neither easier nor harder.”