[Note: This post has been updated (3) as of 1:03 PM Eastern on 24 Jul. See below.]
The threatened strike of stagehands at the fabled Bayreuther Festspiele, first made public a couple weeks ago, is the first publicly visible sign that the Festspiele — from its inception always a special event on a number of fronts — is on its way to becoming just another opera venue, its position as a jewel in the crown of German cultural and nationalistic pride notwithstanding, and marks as well the end of an unbroken era that stretches from Wagner himself straight through the stewardship of his two grandsons, Wieland and Wolfgang. The Festspiele will coast for another few seasons or so on its storied history and on its German cultural and nationalistic significance (for Germans), eventually becoming...what?
Only The Shadow knows.
Sad — and certain to be a meaningful cultural loss to the world of the arts generally, and the world of opera in particular.
Update (1:23 PM Eastern on 14 Jul): After the breakdown of negotiations, the strike is on reports Spiegel Online.
Update 2 (1:15 PM Eastern on 15 Jul): Deutsche Welle is now reporting that a new round of negotiations is scheduled for 22 July, and that union executive Hans Kraft has declared that, "It looks as though the strike has been averted. I am confident we'll be able to reach agreement."
Update 3 (1:03 PM Eastern on 24 Jul): Agreement has been reached, and the opening of the 2009 Bayreuther Festspiele on 25 July will go on as scheduled.