Click for information about the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Bayreuth Festivals

Click here for a schedule of the webcasts of the 2013 Bayreuth Festival performances.
Click here to see pictures of the 2013 bicentennial production of "Der Ring des Nibelungen."

Compared to other famous theaters, the Festspielhaus is small and plain: an amphitheatrical auditorium with a mere 1,925 seats. In 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 since the carpeting might absorb the fabled sound and disturb its famous acoustics. In addition, to this day, the Festspielhaus continues to operate its summer festival without air conditioning. It is truly a place from another time.

The Festspielhaus'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; erected to present exclusively the handful of works of this composer. From the premiere of "The Ring of the Nibelung" to this day, it remains a place to listen to the work of only one composer.

This yearly summer classic is a mixture of time-honored traditions 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.

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Constructing The Festspielhaus
Street signs of Bayreuth

Pictures from the Bayreuth Festival

Click here for pictures from the 2013 Bicentennial production of "Der Ring des Nibelungen"

The Bayreuth Fanfares

Before each performance is given at Bayreuth, 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.

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

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

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

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

DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN
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)
Siegfried
Act I - Siegfried's Horn Call (short form)
Act II - Siegfried's Horn Call (long form)
Act III - Siegfried the Hero
Götterdämmerung
Act I - Alberich's Curse on the Ring
Act II - Gibichung Horn Call
Act III - Valhalla motive

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

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.

Opening Night of the 2006 Bayreuth Festival

On the left you will find footage from opening night of the Bayreuth Festival 2006. The opera was Der fliegende Holländer as you can hear from the fanfare on the balcony playing one of the motives from the overture.

Opening night of the Bayreuth Festival is attended by many important figures from around the world, although German political and artistic figures predominate.

This clip concludes with a mini interview with Katharina Wagner, daughter of the late former Festspielchef Wolfgang Wagner. Katharina's controversial production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg kicked off the 2007 Festival and has remained in the repertory ever since.

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Click above to enter a database of performers and performances at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, from 1876 to the present

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