Daniel Barenboim is considered by many to be the most interesting Wagner conductor today. He has conducted all the major operas around the world, with an emphasis on Berlin and Bayreuth.
Barenboim first appeared in Bayreuth in 1981 in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's Tristan (the one where Isolde's return in the 3rd act is just a dream). Between 1981 and 1999 Daniel Barenboim conducted 161 performances in Bayreuth, appearing almost every year.
In Bayreuth Daniel Barenboim has conducted the following operas:
Tristan und Isolde (Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, 1981-87)
Der Ring des Nibelungen (Harry Kupfer, 1988-92)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wolfgang Wagner, 1996-99)
I have heard Barenboim several times in Bayreuth: The Harry Kupfer Ring (1991), Meistersinger (1997) and Tristan und Isolde (1997). The Heiner Müller Tristan with Waltraud Meier as Isolde is the greatest opera experience I have ever had.
It is fascinating to see a conductor who doesn't need to appear as a wild lunatic to bring out emotions from the orchestra.
1999 was the last time Daniel Barenboim appeared in Bayreuth. This is how he explains his withdrawal in his autobiography "Daniel Barenboim – A Life in Music":
I never made a conscious decision to leave Bayreuth. It was a process of evolution. In 1997, I decided I wanted to return to Argentina in the summer of 2000, because I had played my first piano recital in Buenos Aires on 19 August 1950. The desire to return and play a concert in Buenos Aires on 19 August 2000 ran in a slightly sentimental vein. I would have preferred to appear in the same hall, which was very small, but it does not exist any more. Therefore, the concert was to take place at the Teatro Colón instead. I shared my thoughts with Wolfgang Wagner, who understood perfectly well, and I told him jokingly that, like a true criminal, I had to return to the scene of the crime. Ideally he would have liked to have someone conduct Meistersinger in my absence. However, as we pondered the options, it became clear rather quickly that it would have been very impractical to have someone else conduct it for one year, and have me come back the year after. It made more sense to have the same conductor in 2000 and also in 2001. So the decision to leave was simply the result of reason and timing.
Daniel Barenboim's homepage
Read about Daniel Barenboim on Wikipedia
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