Richard Wagner

Stigmata at Beyreuth

The first Beyreuth Festival, that joyous spectacle of all thing Wagnerian, occurred in 1876, or so history would have us believe.  The first festival, in actuality, occurred several years previously.  The horrors that occurred there are never spoken of for fear of cursing any further performance, or damning the whole spectacle to torment and misery.  The original theatre was burnt down a year later in mysterious circumstances.

What can be gleaned is that Wagner, in 1845, had become an acquaintance of an aristocratic and charismatic musician, originally from Bohemia, named Warren von Zaus.  They met in Dresden when Wagner was in residence and von Zaus was visiting looking for pieces for his pottery collection.  Encouraged by von Zaus’ sponsorship and interest in mythology and legend, Wagner penned his Magnum Opus, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Von Zaus was a capable conductor of large orchestras and so when Wagner finally allowed the world to see his vision, he asked von Zaus to bring it to fruition.

The night, allegedly, began well.  All manner of lord, lady, royalty, church and state was in attendance.  Wagner gave a speech and the lights in the opera house went low.  The opening bars rumbled into life and then the world went black.  Outbreak of stigmata occurred throughout the theatre.  Military men screamed for their mothers, holy men wept fire, pregnant women aborted, and the first violinist spontaneously combusted.  It is curious to note that the lady who attended the cloakroom was miraculously cured of painful bunions.

Posted in Historical Notes

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