Verstummte Stimmen ("Silenced Voices") is a comprehensive account of Richard Wagner's inflammatory anti-Semitism, of his family's Nazism and of the many Jewish artists who were driven out of Bayreuth before and after 1933, some to their deaths in Nazi extermination camps. Members of the audience study each panel with the same concentration they apply to the live performance, and often with white-faced shock. The truth, it seems, is out. Bayreuth has shaken the skeletons out of its closet and is preparing to face the 200th anniversary of Wagner's birth with a clean slate. A further segment of the exhibition, detailing Wagner's noxious influence on German politics, continues in the town hall. Witnessing Verstummte Stimmen, I am relieved and happy to be in Bayreuth.
But all in Wagner is never as it seems. Next morning I ask a flack in the Festspielhaus for a copy of the exhibition texts. "Can't help you," he shrugs. "It's a town hall thing. Nothing to do with us." I beg your pardon? "This is not a festival exhibition."
Of course not. The democratic town of Bayreuth may be keen to come to terms with its unsavoury past, but the Wagners cannot budge. So long as the family controls the festival, it will remain tainted by crimes against humanity. I won't go back.