Music: Twilight of the Gods

Brünhilde and Wotan without their winged helmets? Siegfried's funeral pyre just a dainty red glow offstage—plus a couple of puffs of smoke from the wings? Oldtimers at Bayreuth paled with shock last week as they watched Richard Wagner's grandsons streamlining grandfather.

Aim of all the innovations: 1) to ditch realism for abstraction in the sets, 2) to make the stern old gods of Valhalla look less like period pieces. Designer Wieland Wagner's argument: the world has changed and so must the cult of Wagner.

Shock After Shock. Bayreuth got its first jolt—though, as matters turned out, a relatively mild one—with the new Parsifal....

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