Bayreuth Festival Has Its First Female Chief After 145 Years


I was born in the Soviet era when Russian and Soviet culture was imposed on us, but I love to read and did my own research. I ran into big names like Joseph Roth, Paul Celan, and Lviv-born Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem.

I also discovered that Leonard Bernstein’s parents are from Rovno, 100 kilometers from Brody, where I was born. Brody was once known as the “Jerusalem of Austria” and there are still the remains of a synagogue destroyed in WWII that reminds us so strongly of the past. In 2019, I gave a special concert there in memory of Joseph Roth and we played Bernstein’s “Kaddish” Symphony.

can you sing yourself

I started with the piano. Then I played the flute, studied the violin a little, then the singing. I have a high soprano voice and I really loved to sing in the choir. When I was younger, I thought of becoming a choirmaster like my father, but then the conductorship prevailed. The sound of an orchestra fascinated me.

What do you do before a performance? Do you have any habits or superstitions?

Having a coffee and something sweet is important to me, but I don’t really need anything else. The most important thing for me is inspiration. I rely on learning so much about composers in advance that I feel like I know them personally, they are almost my friends.

Do you feel resistance to female conductors today?

Everything has changed a lot in the last 15 years. I do not feel hostility; Actually, it’s the opposite. There is a lot of interest and support from the public, orchestras, directors and critics. Next season, I am planning great things: I will make my debut with “Tosca” at London’s Covent Garden in November and give my first concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, a Stravinsky program next May.

How is the epidemic affecting Bayreuth this year?

I had to deal with all kinds of situations during the pandemic process. We did a whole “I Puritani” with only 19 musicians in the orchestra pit in Frankfurt. Now we play with a full orchestra in Bayreuth, but we have two groupings; I’m rehearsing with each of them in case anything happens. There are 140 people in the choir and they are divided. Seventy are in a private room and their songs are broadcast in the theatre, and the other 70 are on stage, like extras, but cannot sing a note for safety reasons – although they have to react as if they were them the entire time. they sing.

have you been vaccinated

No, I haven’t been vaccinated yet, although I planned to. But we have PCR tests every day. And I don’t meet anyone or go anywhere except at rehearsal.


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