Wagner offspring win epic family battle for opera

Mon Sep 1, 2008 2:02pm EDT
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By Josie Cox

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two great-granddaughters of composer Richard Wagner will take control of Germany's Wagner opera festival after winning an epic family power struggle.

The Richard Wagner Foundation announced on Monday that Eva Wagner-Pasquier, 63, and her half-sister Katharina Wagner, 30, would take over the festival in Bayreuth after 89-year-old Wolfgang Wagner stepped down last month.

After Wolfgang Wagner's 57-year reign as head of the festival in the Bavarian town ended, a fierce battle for succession erupted, pitting Wagner-Pasquier and Katharina Wagner against their cousin Nike Wagner, 63.

Wagner-Pasquier is Wolfgang Wagner's daughter from his first marriage. German media said the two women had not spoken to each other for years and had only recently renewed relations in order to prepare their joint bid.

Wagner-Pasquier is an experienced theatre manager. Katharina Wagner celebrated her directing debut at the Wagner festival last year and has supported projects such as an open-air public screening of operas.

"We're grateful that the wrangling over the festival is finally behind us," said Wagner-Pasquier.

"We want to preserve the unmatched position of the festival," said Katharina Wagner. "Naturally we've been listening to the criticism and will take it to heart."

Nike Wagner had hoped to run the prestigious event jointly with opera manager Gerard Mortier.   Continued...

<p>Katharina Wagner waves as she arrives for the opening of this year's Bayreuth Wagner opera festival outside the so-called Gruener Huegel (Green Hill) opera house in Bayreuth July 25, 2007. REUTERS/Michael Dalder</p>