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Certainly, after Wagner’s death in 1883, the tale of the Bayreuth festival Wagner had founded turns into a long slide towards its Nazi apotheosis.
The Jewish conductor Hermann Levi was subjected to years of abuse, and it was inconceivable to Cosima to employ other Jews, such as Mahler.
The whole saga of Cosima, her ghastly children and their ghastlier spouses, led to a tragic conclusion, but is not without comedy.
The funniest moment is when the great tenor Leo Slezak turned up at Bayreuth for an audition and, ignorant of the fact that the names of most Italian composers were verboten in Cosima’s presence, sang Vesti la giubba from Pagliacci.
Cosima and her siblings were abandoned to the casual care of elderly women – Liszt’s mother Anna, then the governess of Liszt’s new mistress, the legendarily bonkers Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein.