Tel Aviv Hilton Cancels Wagner Performance Despite Signing Contract

Following cancellation by Tel Aviv University, Israel Wagner Society is having trouble finding a venue for the show.

The Israel Wagner Society is continuing in its efforts to find a venue for a concert of pieces by Richard Wagner, without much success.

Last week, the society found a venue in which to hold a concert this coming Saturday, the Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel. A few days later however, hotel ownership changed its mind and cancelled the show.

"Everything was agreed upon with the Hildon's management," said Yonathan Livni, founder of the Israel Wagner Society. "Even the type of chairs – we signed a detailed contract, including which pieces would be played," continued Livni. On Friday afternoon however, despite the signed contract, and after advertisements were posted in newspapwers, the Hilton handed down the decision to cancel the show.

"We don’t know the reason for cancellation," said Livni. "Meanwhile, this whole ordeal is dragging out huge expenses."

Over the last few days, the Wagner society has been sniffing out other possible venues, including in "Airport City," near Ben Gurion Airport. The society was met with refusal there, as well. "It seems we'll have to build a Bayreuth in Israel" said Livni, referring to the Germany city of Bayreuth which hosts a yearly Wagner festival.

A concert comprised of Wagner pieces was set to take place in the Smolarsh Auditorium at Tel Aviv University. A few days after the concert was announced however, the performance was cancelled, amid claims that the university was unaware as of the purpose for which the auditorium was rented.

According to Livni, the contrct with the university was signed several months ago, and it was clear to both sides that a Symphonic and voice concert was planned. The concert was to be the first of its kind in Israel, featuring live performances of music from Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen," including the opening of "Tristan und Isolde."

The musicians and singers meant to perform at the concert, were hired with money from donations meant specifically for this concert, (according to some musicians, payment is roughly NIS 3,000), do not belong to any well known orchestras, and therefore to not receive any public funds.

 The choice of musicians, according to the Wagner society, was made to solve the problem of orchestra subscribers not wishing their money be used for performances of Wagner's music.

The head of the musicology department of The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University, Professor Zohar Eitan, said on Sunday that he understands the sensitivity of the matter, "however the cancellation was not is not in accordance with freedom of expression practiced at the university."

Eitan added, "I'll deliver my opinion to any and all university leaders willing to listen." Eitan stated that if he were a professor of any other field, he would not express his opinion on the matter.

Read this article in Hebrew