BERLIN - Gudrun Wagner, wife of the Bayreuth Opera Festival's director and a key figure in the family battle over control of the arts institution that was founded by composer Richard Wagner, died yesterday at a Bayreuth hospital. She was 63.
No cause of death was given.
Her death comes amid a feud over who will succeed Wolfgang Wagner, her husband and a grandson of the composer, as festival director. Wagner, 88, had long insisted that his second wife and partner in directing and staging the annual festival was the only person capable of taking over.
"As the most important assistant and supporter of her husband, she shaped the luster and the worldwide significance of the Wagner festival in Bayreuth," said Guenther Beckstein, governor of Bavaria. "Her death is a deep loss to Bavaria, Bayreuth, and the global festival community."
Recently Wolfgang Wagner has indicated that he would be prepared to step aside for the couple's 29-year-old daughter, Katharina.
He has led the festival since 1951 - at first jointly with his brother, Wieland, until his brother's death in 1966.