Bayreuth Festival Gets Its First Female Conductor in Its 145-Year History

Published July 27th, 2021 - 06:14 GMT
Oksana Lyniv
Oksana Lyniv (Instagram)
Ukrainian-born “Maestra” Oksana Lyniv becomes the first woman conductor at Bayreuth Festival.

The 2021 festival marks a milestone: Oksana Lyniv became the first woman to conduct production in the 145-year history of the Bavarian opera festival. 

The Bayreuth Festival, at which operas by the 19th-century composer Richard Wagner are performed, kicked off in Germany. The annual festival has returned after a one-year break forced by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Lyniv opened the festival with the premiere of The Flying Dutchman, with Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband in the audience.

When asked by RFERL what she thought of the festival having its first female conductor, Merkel simply said, "Finally!" 

Bayreuth is one of the world’s best-known music festivals dedicated to the works of 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner.

Born in Brody (Ukrainian) Oksana Lyniv is the daughter of two musicians and the granddaughter of a choral conductor. Her father is also a choral conductor. In her youth, she studied piano, flute, violin, and singing. She studied flute and conducting at the Stanislav Liudkevych Music School in Lviv. She first conducted an orchestra at age 16, where this experience initiated her interest in conducting.

International conductor, Founder, and artistic director of LvivMozArt Festival, Lviv (Ukraine), Founder, conductor, and art director of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. Celebrated for the extraordinary combination of precision and temperament of her conducting and the fascinating depth of her musical understanding, Oksana Lyniv stays in the focus of international attention and is one of the most prominent conductors of the younger generation. 

Asked how she felt about her appearance at the festival, Lyniv told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper:

“A score by Richard Wagner is a major professional challenge for any conductor. Gender is irrelevant.”

The Bayreuth Festival is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of operas by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner are presented. Wagner himself conceived and promoted the idea of a special festival to showcase his own works, in particular his monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal. Performances take place in a specially designed theatre, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. The Festival has become a pilgrimage destination for Wagnerians and classical-music enthusiasts.

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works.

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