Composer Wagner’s kin scraps Israel visit


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Composer Richard Wagner’s great-granddaughter canceled a visit to Israel after the leaked trip prompted criticism over her anti-Semitic ancestor.

Katharina Wagner was scheduled to visit Israel next week to invite the Israel Chamber Orchestra to open next summer’s Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany. The visit, which Haaretz reported Wednesday had been kept secret for a year, was leaked to the Israeli media to mixed reactions both in Israel and abroad.

Wagner’s works are generally not performed in Israel, where he is reviled as a vocal anti-Semite whose work was adored by Adolf Hitler.

Erella Talmi, chairwoman of the orchestra’s board of directors, told Israel’s Army Radio that the orchestra will play in the opening of the festival, a monthlong event featuring the operas of Richard Wagner.

"The decision was not to break a taboo," Talmi said. "The decision was to accept an invitation that showed a new openness."

She drew a distinction between performing Wagner in Israel and abroad.

The orchestra’s new conductor, Austrian Roberto Paternostro, is a friend of Katharina Wagner’s.

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