This chapter explores a specifically modernist operatic culture that includes yet extends beyond compositional practice; it focuses on an operatic self-reflexivity concerned with, yet also critical, even hostile, towards working repertories and practices of existing opera houses. Various strands come together in the figure, empirical and symbolic, of Richard Wagner as composer, theorist and director: godfather to modernist Regietheater. Through discussion of four stagings of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger by Harry Kupfer, Stefan Herheim, David Bösch, and David McVicar, productions offering a self-reflexive, critical, even emancipatory stance towards both operatic work and society are distinguished from conservative–reactionary and postmodernist alternatives.