Photographs of Bayreuth 2006 Productions
Reviews and Schedule of The Bayreuth Festival 2006
Webcast Schedule of the Bayreuth Festival 2006

Compared to other world famous opera houses, the Festspielhaus is quite small and plain: an amphitheatrical auditorium with a mere 1,925 seats. In direct contrast to such plush opera houses as La Scala in Milan or Covent Garden in London, its thirty rows of seats are wooden, un-upholstered, and do not even have arm rests. Following Richard Wagner's specifications, the floors are also made of wood and, to this day, remain uncovered in fear that carpeting might absorb the fabled sound and thus disturb the famous acoustics of the theater.

The Festspielhaus is a unique place. It's singular world status begins with the fact that it is the only theater built from the ground up to the strict specifications -- and whims -- of one creative talent who was not even an architect, but a composer of music. Further the place was erected to present exclusively the handful of works of this composer.

The festival that takes place at Bayreuth every summer is a mixture of time-honored tradition and adventuresome experimentation. So powerful are the festival's contrasting values that, at times, its dichotomy has threatened its very existence. However, the Festspielhaus survived two world wars, and it celebrated one hundred years of existence in 1976. In the initial years of its second century it is still thriving as the one and only, ideal place to experience Richard Wagner's operas.

Constructing The Festspielhaus
Street signs of Bayreuth


Celebrities walk the red carpet on Opening Night of the 2006 Bayreuth Festival

Before each performance is given at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, and towards the end of each interval of those works that are divided into acts, a group of brass players appears on the balcony above Ludwig's extension and plays a fanfare based on a motive from the act of the opera that is about to start inside. They play three times before the performance begins or continues. It is a great Bayreuth tradition, and the magnificent playing gives you a hint of what you will hear inside.

Here are the motives used, as specified by Richard Wagner:

Act I - Hunt motive
Act II - Opening of the Entry of the Guests
Act III - Pardon motive

Act I - The King's Call
Act II - The Mystery of the Name (Nie sollst du mich befragen)
Act III - Grail motive

Act I - Young Sailor's Song
Act II - Death motive
Act III - Fragment of Shepherd's Melody

Act I - The Masters' motive (opening of prelude)
Act II - Serenade
Act III - Fanfare of the Guilds

Das Rheingold - Donner's Thunder (He-da! He-da He-do!)
Die Walküre
Acts I and II - Sword motive (short form)
Act III - Sword motive (long form)
Act I - Siegfried's Horn Call (short form)
Act II - Siegfried's Horn Call (long form)
Act III - Siegfried the Hero
Act I - Alberich's Curse on the Ring
Act II - Gibichung Horn Call
Act III - Valhalla motive

Act I - Redemption or Fellowship motive
Act II - Parsifal's motive (initial form)
Act III - Variant of Redemption motive

Interestingly, Richard Wagner did not specify a fanfare for Der fliegende Holländer, therefore before the start of this one act work, a motive from the opening of the overture is used as a fanfare.

The Official Site of the Bayreuth Festival
The Official Site
Click above to enter a database of performers and performances at the Bayreuth Festpielhaus, from 1876 to the present
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