The view from here to . . . City Opera and Gérard Mortier
I'll believe it when I see it department.
Let's just put on the record what we have been saying for the past 18 months:
I have never thought that the cunning and beyond self-assured Flemish impresario Gérard Mortier (left) will actually take over the New York City Opera next year, and if he does start at City Opera I can't see him serving out his contract there.
The former Intendant of the Salzburg Festival (1992-2001) and the current Directeur of the Paris Opéra (since 2004) has about as much interest in the United States as Daniel Barenboim did, has no experience with or interest in fundraising or American arts administration, will have no budget to speak of and no building to work with for his first season or two, and now has the stop-at-nothing Peter Gelb next door at the Metropolitan Opera.
Now comes word via Bloomberg.com and the essential FAZ newspaper in Germany that Mortier and Nike Wagner, Richard Wagner's great-granddaughter, have submitted a bid to run the Wagner epicentric Bayreuth Festival. (More from the FAZhere, also in German only.)
The German government, headed by opera-loving and frequent-attending Chancellor Angela Merkel, is a part of the foundation that will choose a successor to the impossibly impossible Wolgang Wagner, 88 (he turns 89 on Saturday), who is finally stepping down from the family fiefdom (Nike is the daughter of WoWa's brother, the brilliant Wieland Wagner, who died too young in 1966), in meetings that begin September 1.
Mortier and Nike Wagner faxed their application to to the Festival foundation this weekend. They are up against the previously unlikely pairing of WoWa's two daughters, Katharina, just 30 and WoWa's favorite, and her half-sister, international artistic consultant Eva Wagner-Pasquier, 63, until this spring bitter enemies.
Mortier turns 65 in November and is required by law to step down from his Paris job then, although not for want of trying on his part for a waiver to the French work rules. If there were any other reasons that he put in for the City Opera post, I've never encountered them.
Even if Mortier and Nike don't get the Bayreuth leadership -- and everyone in thatWespennest(wasp's or hornet's nest) is a fierce competitor and intriguer -- they could still share in some plan for the Festival's direction.
The main thing is that with his fax to Bayreuth, Mortier is telling the folks at the State Theater at Lincoln Center what anyone who knows Mortier at all already knows -- his true interests lie elsewhere.