Music: Yankee Parsifal

Since 1951, when Wieland and Wolfgang Wagner started putting Grandfather Richard's operas into modern dress, Bavaria's Bayreuth Festival has attracted more attention for its sets than for its singers. As the curtain rose on the festival last week, the singers were back at stage center. Not in a decade have there been so many distinguished debuts at Bayreuth —and never has this most intensely national of all German festivals appeared so amazingly Americanized.

Arriving on the set of Das Rheingold to begin rehearsals, Wolfgang Wagner struck his forehead and exclaimed: ''Is it possible that...

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