Bayreuth Festival is an annual opera festival in Germany, held in celebration of the works of Richard Wagner. The Bayreuth Festspielhaus Theatre was built specifically for this event, offers the best acoustics for a Wagner opera, and remains one of the most traditional performance spaces in Europe.
The festival began in 1876 with the premiere of Der Ring des Nibelungen. Financial difficulties delayed the second festival until 1882, where Parsifal was then premiered. Since 1951, the festival has run annually. In recent years, tensions have centered around feelings that the festival needs to be more modern. In 2004, controversial director Christoph Schligensief staged Parsifal to a mixed public response.
The festival has become a public affair, with 40,000 visitors coming out in 2008 to see Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg play freely from a screen outside the theater. Performances have also been broadcast over the internet. As Katharina Wagner—descendent of Richard Wagner and the new director of the festival—explains, these technological advancements reflect Richard Wagner’s own belief in making his work accessible to the masses.
This year, the festival repertoire includes some of Wagner’s best operas, including Tristan and Isolde, Siegfried, Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, and many others. It is scheduled to begin on 25 July.
- It is traditional to not applaud during the first act of any performance.
Beyond the Festival:
- Munich is only two hours away by car, should one wish to visit it.
- Those looking for for non-opera activities should consider making an appointment at the Lohengrin Therme.
- One should consider booking tickets months in advance, especially for the premieres.
- The opera house is located on the acropolis of a green hill above the town.
Know Before you go:
- For pre-performance drinks, visit the Gendamerie at the Hotel Bayrischer Hof.
- Consider bringing a small pillow and a bottle of war to enhance comfort.
Postfach 10 02 62
D-95402 Bayreuth, Germany
Season: late July through end of August