Opera: Clouds over Valhalla

Strife was no stranger to Richard Wagner. His lifelong battles with critics, rival composers, performers and jealous husbands formed the sonorous core of his own career, and even blared into some of his opera plots. This summer, 84 years after Wagner's death, the storms still rage over the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth, that Bavarian operatic Valhalla built by the composer to house definitive performances of his musico-dramatic masterworks.

When the U.S. Army in 1949 turned the theater over to Wolfgang and Wieland Wagner, the composer's grandsons, certain stipulations were part of the deal....

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