Post by REP
You seem to be assuming good faith on the part of modern directors. Don't. They might be ignorant and inept, but that's not the problem. It's that they're knowingly and intentionally trying to desecrate what other people find sacred. It would not be wrong to call them evil.
In some cases I would be inclined to agree with that, extreme as it is. Some producers are just plain nasty. From what I've seen and heard offstage Richard Jones (think the last ROH Ring, the Met Hansel & Gretel) may be a candidate. The elderly enfant terrible Hans Neuenfels, of the Lohengrin rats, is another. In other cases, though, I would suggest they're just following the herd. If you want to get ahead, you do your Wagner this way. And following the Intendants, on whom their livelihood depends. I know for a fact one recently told a producer "I want a suces de scandale with this one!" And of course he got it. Very often, particularly on the continent, intendants are bureaucratic civil servant types, pure apparatchiks without much musical or theatrical savvy, well primed with public money but largely unaccountable for its use behind the shelter of artistic freedom. Like other apparatchiks they fight status wars, to show themselves go-ahead and lively and keep a basically philistine, jaded middle-class audience amused -- and earn plaudits from the most jaded of all, the critics.