A theatre created for a single composer: the Bayreuth Festival Theatre. With an auditorium in which his music unfolds like in no other theatre in the world. With no grandeur, reduced to the essential: to experience his works as a celebration. Connoisseurs, friends, sceptics – they all come to the green hill every summer to explore its legacy, away from the great centres of culture. Since 1876, when he first performed his “Ring des Nibelungen” as a cycle. Richard Wagner: visionary, utopian – his heritage remains alive here. At the most exciting musical theatre festival in the world.
Bayreuth was not the first choice. When Richard Wagner roughly sketched his Festival idea in 1850, his thoughts circled around Zurich or Weimar, and later around Munich. Perhaps surprisingly none of the cities was selected by the composer. On 22 May 1872, the foundation was laid, but the construction came to hold shortly afterwards: the attempt to erect the present-day Festival Hall as a “crowdfunding project” failed because of financial issues. It was only when King Ludwig II provided the necessary funds by means of credit that the construction continued. On 13 August 1876, the first Bayreuth Festival began.
We want to warn you that it is extremely hard to find tickets for the festival. That means that tickets should be purchased long before the festival starts.
If you fail to find tickets, do not worry. You can buy this brilliant historical performance* from 1953 conducted by Clemens Krauss. The New York Times considered it to be the best recording of Richard Wagner's epoch-making work to date!
Bayreuth is a medium-sized town in northern Bavaria, Germany, on the Red Main river in a valley between the Franconian Jura and the Fichtelgebirge Mountains. The town's roots date back to 1194. In the 21st century, it is the capital of Upper Franconia and has a population of 72,148.
Bayreuth experienced its Golden Age during the reign (1735–1763) of Margrave Frederick and Margravine Wilhelmina of Bayreuth, the favourite sister of Frederick the Great. During this time, under the direction of court architects, Joseph Saint-Pierre and Carl von Gontard, numerous courtly buildings and attractions were created: the Margravial Opera House with its richly furnished baroque theatre (1744–1748), the New 'Castle' and Sun Temple (1749–1753) at the Hermitage, the New Palace with its courtyard garden to replace the Old Palace which had burned down through the carelessness of the margrave, and the magnificent row of buildings in today's Friedrichstraße. There was even a unique version of the rococo architectural style, the so-called Bayreuth Rococo which characterised the aforementioned buildings, especially their interior design.
Markgräfliches Opernhaus is an opera house in the town of Bayreuth. The Margravial Opera House was opened in 1748 and is one of the finest Baroque theatres in Europe. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is both a museum and the oldest working tableau in Bayreuth.
On 17 April 1870 Richard Wagner visited Bayreuth, because he had read about the Margrave Opera House, whose great stage seemed fitting for his works. However, the orchestra pit could not accommodate the large number of musicians required, for example, for the Ring of the Nibelung and the ambience of the auditorium seemed inappropriate for his piece. So, he toyed with the idea of building his own festival hall (the Festspielhaus) in Bayreuth.
The town supported him in this project and made a piece of land available to him, an undeveloped area outside the town between the railway station and Hohe Warte, the Grüner Hügel [de] ("Green Hill"). At the same time Wagner acquired a property at Hofgarten to build his own house, Wahnfried. On 22 May 1872 the cornerstone for the Festival Hall was laid and, on 13 August 1876, it was officially opened. Planning and construction were in the hands of the Leipzig architect, Otto Brückwald, who had already made a name for himself in the building of theatres in Leipzig and Altenburg.
Learn more about the The Bayreuth Classical Music Festival