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Andris Nelsons abruptly withdraws from Bayreuth Festival’s ‘Parsifal’

Andris Nelsons conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra on its European tour in May. Woody T. Herner

Conductor Andris Nelsons has abruptly withdrawn from this summer’s production of the Wagner opera “Parsifal” at the prestigious Bayreuth Festival in Germany.

“With utmost respect to the Bayreuth Festival’s management and staff, director and his team, assistant conductors, cast, orchestra and chorus, Andris Nelsons has asked the Festival’s management for rescission of his contract for this Summer’s production of Parsifal,” read a statement issued Thursday morning on behalf of Nelsons and his management team. “Owing to a differing approach in various matters, the atmosphere at this year’s Bayreuth Festival did not develop in a mutually comfortable way for all parties. With regret, the Bayreuth Festival agree to Andris Nelsons’ request.”


Nelsons, music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has regularly appeared at the Bayreuth Festival since he made an acclaimed debut there in 2010, at the age of 31. The production of “Parsifal” was scheduled to open the festival on July 25. According to Nelsons’s own statement, he will not be making further comment on the withdrawal.

Writing in Die Welt, the German critic Manuel Brug speculates the walk-off may have been due to artistic meddling from Bayreuth music director Christian Thielemann. And according to a separate report in the German media, tensions had been rising at the festival, which had increased security measures to guard against potential terrorist attacks.

This is not the first time Nelsons has experienced adversity at the Bayreuth Festival. In 2013, he suffered a concussion after hitting his head on a door there, and — advised by doctors not to travel — had to pull out of appearances at Tanglewood.

Jeremy Eichler contributed to this report. Rebecca Ostriker can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeOstriker.