Bayreuth Festival

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Richard-Wagner-Festspielhaus 2016
Logo of the Bayreuth Festival
Conductor and stage artist in Bayreuth at the turn of the century

The Bayreuth Festival or Richard Wagner Festival is a music theater festival dedicated to the ten last operas by Richard Wagner (1813–1883). The festival has been held intermittently since 1876, and every year since 1951 in the festival hall on the Green Hill in Bayreuth , which the composer and architect Otto Brückwald (1841–1917) created especially for this purpose . The festival usually lasts from July 25th to August 28th.

On March 31, 2020 it was announced that the festival scheduled for July 2020 had been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head is Katharina Wagner as musical director acts Christian Thielemann .

Temporal overview

  • August 13th to 30th, 1876: the first Bayreuth Festival
  • 1882 to 1914:
21 festival years (including Richard Wagner's participation in 1882), followed by an interruption due to the war and inflation
There were no festivals in twelve years: 1885, 1887, 1890, 1893, 1895, 1898, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1907, 1910, 1913
  • 1924 to 1944:
17 festival years
four years without a festival: 1926, 1929, 1932, 1935
  • A total of 39 festivals took place from 1876 to 1944.
  • 1945 to 1950: failure for political and financial reasons (six years). Until then, there had been a total of 27 years without a festival since 1876.
  • Since 1951: uninterrupted annual implementation (50th post-war festival: 2000)
  • In 2011 the 100th Bayreuth Festival took place
  • In 2020 the festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

History until 1944

Festival poster 1938 by Jupp Wiertz

Richard Wagner wanted a theater where, as a composer, lyricist, dramaturge and director , he could realize his ideas of the total work of art . Away from the metropolises - without distraction and without the compromises of a repertoire company - it should be able to fully devote itself to the performance of its works. In 1871 he decided on Bayreuth as the location. At the beginning of February 1872 he founded the board of directors of the festival, chaired by the local banker Friedrich Feustel . To finance the costs he estimated at 300,000 thalers for the construction of a festival hall and the first season, Wagner founded a patronage association , which, under the direction of Marie Countess von Schleinitz , a friend of his wife Cosima Wagner , issued shares for 300 thalers each. The buyer was given a seat for three cyclical performances of the ring . This is considered the invention of fundraising . Further associations were founded in various German cities. However, up to the spring of 1873 only 340 letters of comfort could be issued. The topping-out ceremony for the Festspielhaus took place in October 1873, even before funding was secured. At the beginning of 1874, construction was threatened due to a lack of funds, whereupon King Ludwig II of Bavaria, out of friendship with Wagner, made a loan of 100,000 thalers available from his private assets.

The analysis of the archives showed that, as in other opera houses, Jews were discriminated against in the course of the theater. “But the bitterly anti-Semitic ideological framework that Wagner himself, his wife Cosima or their son-in-law Houston Stewart Chamberlain provided, did not exist anywhere else. This clear image of the Jewish enemy only existed in Bayreuth, ”said Hannes Heer in 2012 , summarizing his research. Nevertheless, many important Jewish artists appeared regularly at the Bayreuth Festival. Wagner himself was friends with the Munich court music director Hermann Levi and, together with King Ludwig II, was able to assert him as conductor of the Parsifal premiere in 1882 against hostility from other quarters. The Austrian-American bass-baritone Friedrich Schorr was engaged as Wotan, Hans Sachs and Holländer from 1925 to 1931. Richard Wagner also had a close artistic collaboration with the German-Jewish opera impresario Angelo Neumann , who made Wagner's production of the Ring in 1876 ​​in the original scenery of the Bayreuth Festival known on theater tours across Europe. Up until the Second World War, the productions largely adhered to the stage directions in the original text and shaped a performance practice that also shaped the style of other opera houses.

Richard Wagner

The first festival began on August 13, 1876; they offered the world premiere of the complete Ring des Nibelungen on three days and one evening before. The guests included Franz Liszt , Anton Bruckner , Karl Klindworth , Camille Saint-Saëns , Peter Tschaikowski , Edvard Grieg , Lew Tolstoy , Paul Lindau , Friedrich Nietzsche and Gottfried Semper , as well as Kaiser Wilhelm I , Emperor Pedro II of Brazil and King Charles of Württemberg. King Ludwig II had attended the dress rehearsals from August 6th to 9th and came back to Bayreuth for the third and final cycle of performances, in which he withdrew from all public homage.

The artistic success of the performances was adversely affected by some technical mishaps. Due to the financial failure - debts of 148,000  marks remained  - the next festival could not be held until 1882 (with the world premiere of Parsifal ). As he wrote in a letter to Ludwig II, Wagner intended to gradually perform his other works in the Festspielhaus "in such a way that these performances can be passed on to my next posterity as a model of correctness". The composer died a few months later. Until shortly before his death he thought about reworking his Tannhauser and the Flying Dutchman in order to make them “worthy of Bavaria”. He did not prohibit a performance of his early works ( Das Liebesverbot , Die Feen , Rienzi ), but neither showed any interest in them. To this day it is customary in Bayreuth to play only the ten main works from the Flying Dutchman to Parsifal .

Cosima Wagner

Wagner himself had not appointed a successor to direct the festival. After his unexpected death on February 13, 1883, they were continued by his widow and initially took place irregularly. Friends of the Wahnfried family were able to convince Cosima, who seemed apathetic for many weeks after the death of her husband, to take on this task. As early as July 1883, Parsifal was performed twelve times ; Cosima became the actual founder and fanatical guardian of the festival tradition. In the festival years 1884, 1886, 1888 and 1889 she stabilized this work.

For economic reasons - the festival operation was a purely private company of the Wagner family - had to be paused again and again in order to overcome financial bottlenecks. The audience demand was also not always sufficient, in some cases the games were played in front of a moderately full house. After Wagner's death in 1883, Adolf von Groß , a friend of the Wagner family, took over the financial management and introduced a "strict spending discipline". In this way the festival could gradually be financially secured. The loans from the private assets of the Bavarian royal family were repaid by the Wagner family until 1906.

Festival guests at that time included Max Reger (1888), Kaiser Wilhelm II (1888), Theodor Fontane (1889), Auguste Rodin (1897), George Bernard Shaw (1897) and Mark Twain (1891).

Siegfried Wagner

Patronage certificate from the German Festival Foundation dated May 22, 1922
Bayreuth Festival Hall around 1900

The festival itself developed alternately between artistic stagnation and innovation. Cosima Wagner, who directed herself from 1886, had a strict idea of faithfulness to the work . In 1908, on the urgent advice of her doctors, she handed over the management of the festival to her son Siegfried Wagner , who gradually made it possible to modernize the performances. Festival guests in the years before the First World War included Albert Schweitzer , Thomas Mann (1909), Igor Stravinsky (1910), Gerhart Hauptmann (1911), Ernest Newman and William Somerset Maugham .

The First World War forced the current season to end in 1914; the reimbursement of redeemed tickets caused a high deficit, so that the festival could not be held again until 1924. In 1921 a new German Festival Foundation took in more than five million marks from the sale of patronage certificates. However, the inflation of 1921/22 devalued this fortune, so that it was only after a ten-year break, on July 22, 1924, that the festival could be reopened under the direction of Siegfried Wagner. The Meistersinger premiere turned out to be an overtly nationalist event; among the guests were Erich Ludendorff and Heinrich Claß . The final applause after the III. Act culminated in the Deutschlandlied, which the audience sang standing up . The festival management felt compelled to make an appeal that such statements should not be made.

In his will of 1929, Siegfried Wagner stipulated that the festival should be the responsibility of the Wagner family on a permanent basis and that only his father's works may be performed there in Bayreuth: “The festival hall may not be sold. It should always be made available to the purposes for which its builder intended, only the festive performance of Richard Wagner's works. ”If these conditions were not met, the festival hall should go to the city of Bayreuth, which in turn belongs to the latter Edition would be bound. Whether the ruling regarding the exclusion of other works is still binding has repeatedly been discussed - also by family members.

Winifred Wagner

The festival was problematic at the beginning of the 1930s: In 1930 Siegfried Wagner died at the age of 61 from a heart attack suffered during the rehearsal period. The festival has now been taken over by his widow Winifred Wagner . Meanwhile, there was repeated tension and jealousy between the newly appointed conductor Arturo Toscanini and the two other conductors from 1930 and 1931, Karl Muck and Wilhelm Furtwängler . Shortly before rehearsals for the 1933 Festival began, Toscanini revoked his commitment because the atmosphere in Germany was hostile to foreigners and, above all, to Jews after the Nazis came to power.

Joseph Goebbels (left) and Werner von Blomberg (second from right) during a break at the Bayreuth Festival in 1937

Winifred Wagner's closeness to Chancellor Adolf Hitler ensured that from 1933 the festival was financed by the state and relieved of all worries. But it also contributed significantly to the fact that Wagner (according to the literary scholar Hans Mayer ) was “traded below zero on the culture exchange” in 1945. Thomas Mann described Bayreuth as Hitler's court theater.

Hitler last visited Bayreuth in 1940. From this point on, so-called "war festivals" were carried out by order of Hitler. The Nazi organization Kraft durch Freude with its “Vacation and Travel” department took over the ticket sales. Head of this department was Bodo Lafferentz , who became Winifred's son-in-law in 1943 through his marriage to Verena Wagner . Lafferentz took over the assignment of the cards, which were mainly given to wounded soldiers and their nursing staff and armaments workers. From 1941, the festival was increasingly influenced by the war. Since total blackout was ordered from around 9 p.m. in the first week of the Festival in 1941, the performances began shortly after noon. In 1944 only the Mastersingers of Nuremberg were on the program. The last of the twelve performances of the year took place on August 9th. It was the penultimate opera performance ever in the Third Reich, the last was the public rehearsal of the love of Danae by Richard Strauss in the Salzburg Festival Hall on August 16, 1944.

Post-war history - "Neubayreuth"

As part of the denazification process , the proceedings before the Bayreuth Spruchkammer focused exclusively on the person of Winifred Wagner, instead of examining the entanglements of the entire festival. Winifred was classified as a "fellow traveler" in the appellate body, and after she had legally renounced the direction of the festival in favor of her sons Wieland and Wolfgang Wagner , only a few conditions were imposed, which for her were not larger and for the re-establishment of the festival by her two Sons Wieland and Wolfgang were no restrictions. This cleared the way for the festival to resume.

The Society of Friends of Bayreuth was founded in 1949, with the aim of soliciting donations for the festival. As early as Pentecost 1950, DM 400,000 was available. To date, the Society of Friends of Bayreuth has made donations of 60 million euros for the Bayreuth Festival.

At this new beginning, the joint artistic and organizational management lay with the grandchildren of the festival founder, Wieland and Wolfgang Wagner. They succeeded in establishing annual festivals - usually with one new production per season. The first post-war festival began on July 30, 1951 with a highly acclaimed production of Parsifal by Wieland Wagner.

game schedule

Since then, the program has traditionally consisted of a changing selection from Richard Wagner's main works: The Flying Dutchman , Tannhauser , Lohengrin , The Ring of the Nibelung (with the four parts Das Rheingold , Die Walküre , Siegfried , Götterdämmerung ), Tristan and Isolde , Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg and Parsifal .

Occasionally Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was also performed in the Festspielhaus. Richard Wagner himself conducted this work on May 22nd, 1872 in the Margravial Opera House , on the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone for the Festspielhaus. The ninth symphony was performed during the festival under the direction of Richard Strauss (1933), Wilhelm Furtwängler (1951, 1954), Paul Hindemith (1953), Karl Böhm (1963) and Christian Thielemann (2001). On the 100th anniversary of Richard Wagner's father-in-law Franz Liszt 's death , his Faust Symphony was performed in 1986 .

Productions and participants

Various new impulses for opera and music theater came from Bayreuth, for example from 1951 through the productions by Wieland Wagner , who dared to make an aesthetic new beginning with his radical “clearing out” of the stage, which had a style-forming effect until the 1970s. In 1976, Patrice Chéreau's production of the Ring for the 100th anniversary of the Festival (the so-called Ring of the Century ) again saw a comprehensive stylistic change and renewal, which at first provoked violent disturbance and protests, but was later recognized as trend-setting and artistically outstanding.

Musically, the festival performances - especially with regard to the choir and orchestra - are considered exceptional worldwide, which also has to do with the architectural and acoustic peculiarities of the building (see also the mystical abyss ). The soloists are invited for the respective season, whereby in the early years the honor of the invitation and the subsequent assignments compensated for the fact that the artists were usually paid well below their normal earnings. Astrid Varnay is quoted as saying: “We work in Bayreuth, we earn the money elsewhere.” This principle goes back to Richard Wagner himself, who stated: “The singers and musicians only receive compensation from me, no payment. If you don't come to me out of honor and enthusiasm, I'll leave you where you are. ”This principle was softened in the following decades, so that“ no artist for the sake of Neubayreuth waives fair wages ”(Michael Karbaum). At the beginning of the 1950s, personnel costs still accounted for just under 50% of the total budget. In the 1970s, 78-80% was spent on salaries and wages, which corresponds to the standards of other large theaters or festivals.

Performances and visitors

Festspielhaus auditorium
Festival atmosphere

Up to 32 performances take place in the Bayreuth Festival Hall each year. As in Richard Wagner's time, the performances begin in the afternoon, and there are one-hour breaks between the lifts, which seem appropriate due to the length and complexity of Wagner's works and which have since been introduced at other theaters for Wagner performances.

For decades, the 30 performances were sold out well in advance. They can be seen by around 58,000 spectators. In contrast to this number, in some years there was a demand of up to 500,000 card orders, so that waiting times of ten or more years had to be expected. As a result, a black market with festival tickets developed , which in turn was to be countered with personalized admission tickets and controls. For the Meistersinger von Nürnberg in 1996, the wrath of Wolfgang Wagner about a ticket sale for ten times the normal price has been passed down. This non-transparent development was the result of the Wagner family's ticket issuing practice, at least until the end of the Wolfgang Wagner era: Nobody knew how many regular tickets went on sale and how many favorites, sponsors and groups of friends were on the festival management's allocation list. It also remained unclear who actually attended the performances or who resold the tickets allocated at a profit.

In 2011 it became known that only around 40% of the tickets went on sale, the majority had been offered for sale to special target groups in the form of contingents. The largest recipient with 14,000 tickets per year was the Association of Friends of Bayreuth Patrons' Association , which supported the festival with donations of up to three million euros each year. Further contingents of purchase cards were made available to company sponsors, the city of Bayreuth, the Upper Franconia district and the Bavarian State Chancellery. Wagner circles of friends and musicians' organizations were taken into account as well as journalists (1000 free press tickets plus a special contingent for the Bavarian radio). Tour operators also received card allocations, which they bundled into packages with accommodation and catering . In 2011 the Federal Audit Office came to the conclusion that the allocation of these quotas was "incompatible with the federal funding goals".

In response to the criticism, the 2012 Festival ended the tradition of initially offering two, from 2010 one performance exclusively for members of the DGB Bayern at a reduced price in order to honor its services for re-establishing the Festival after the Second World War. According to media reports, the tickets for these performances had been offered to a particularly high degree on the black market in the past, so that the actual target group was only partially reached. In 2012, ticket issuance was completely reorganized: from 2012, around 65% of the tickets went on sale, which is why the Richard Wagner Association and all 138 Wagner associations no longer received any quotas. Travel agencies did not get any more tickets either. The Society of Friends of Bayreuth Patrons' Association continues to receive preferential treatment . As a result of these changes, however, the demand for tickets for the Bayreuth Festival has fallen sharply. In 2016, not all performances were sold out even on the day before the premiere. Empty seats at some performances had already been noticed several times in the previous years.

The regular admission ticket price in 2016 is between 30 and 320 euros (seats with restricted vision for 25 and 10 euros). In relation to the generally high artistic quality, the prices are considered extremely moderate, also compared to other festivals. For a long time, membership with the Friends of Bayreuth, which was associated with additional costs (high membership fee and desired donations), was considered a secure way of getting regular access to tickets. On the black market, surcharges of up to 700% on the regular entry price were paid. From the 2017 season, 25% of the card category price will be added to the ticket price to be paid for the premiere performances of the respective new production; for the remaining performances of the new production, 15% of the card category price will be added to the final ticket price. The old price categories apply to the resumption.

In the meantime, tickets are also being sold online for some of the performances, initially for a performance in the 2013 season that sold out in a few minutes. Ticket contingents have been sold online since 2014 and were initially sold out after a very short time. The Richard Wagner Association awards grants annually, primarily to enable students to attend the performances free of charge. This, too, is an attempt to do justice to Richard Wagner's ideal of making it possible for anyone seriously interested to attend the festival regardless of their financial resources.


The Bayreuth Festival Hall has been supported by the Richard Wagner Foundation Bayreuth since 1973 . Foundation members are the Federal Republic of Germany , the Free State of Bavaria , the City of Bayreuth , the Society of Friends of Bayreuth , the Bavarian State Foundation , the Upper Franconian Foundation , the Upper Franconian District and members of the Wagner family . The managing director of the Board of Trustees is the Lord Mayor of Bayreuth (currently Brigitte Merk-Erbe ). The festival has been carried out by the Bayreuther Festspiele GmbH since 1986 . The budget of the festival is 16 million euros per year (as of 2012). The federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Bayreuth subsidize the festival operations annually with seven million euros, the city's share was increased from 1 million to 1.11 million euros in 2016.

Katharina Wagner (l.) And Eva Wagner-Pasquier (r.) At the opening of the Bayreuth Festival 2009

Since it reopened in 1951, the artistic director of the festival (together with his brother Wieland until 1966 ) was Wolfgang Wagner . In the 1990s and 2000s, the number of voices calling for the resignation of the festival director in favor of various possible successors (including Nike Wagner , Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Wieland Lafferentz or Gudrun Wagner and Katharina Wagner ) increased (also via the media) . In 2001, the Board of Trustees decided against the wishes of Wolfgang Wagner in favor of Eva Wagner-Pasquier, who, however, resigned from the office shortly after the election, as Wolfgang Wagner referred to his contract for life and did not want to give up his post voluntarily. After the sudden death of Gudrun Wagner - the wife and personal assistant of Wolfgang Wagner - and given the old age of the festival director, the question of succession became topical again in November 2007. In April 2008, Wolfgang Wagner himself brought up a successor solution, consisting of his two daughters, and announced his resignation if the Board of Trustees would vote in favor of the half-sisters Eva and Katharina as the joint management team of the Bayreuth Festival.

After both Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier had signaled their willingness to cooperate, Wagner announced in a letter to the Board of Trustees that he would resign from his position as festival director on August 31, 2008. One week before the end of the application period and the meeting of the Board of Trustees on September 1, 2008, Nike Wagner also applied to take over the management of the festival together with the renowned cultural manager Gerard Mortier . At this meeting, the Board of Trustees elected Wolfgang Wagner's two daughters, Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier, as the new directors of the Bayreuth Festival.

Christian Thielemann , music director of the Bayreuth Festival since 2015

After her contract in 2008 expired, Eva Wagner-Pasquier left the management team at the end of the 2015 season. Since then, Katharina Wagner has run the festival alone. Until the end of 2015 she was assisted by Heinz-Dieter Sense as managing director of Festspiele GmbH, and since 2016 by Holger von Berg in the same position. On June 29, 2015 it was announced that Christian Thielemann had already been appointed music director of the Bayreuth Festival on March 15, 2015 and with effect until 2020, a position that has not yet existed. Thielemann has been musical advisor to the festival management since 2010 and in this new position is supposed to pass on his experience and basically deal with all musical matters of the house. At a press conference of the festival on July 25, 2015, it was announced that Thielemann's tasks were to help shape the sound of the Bayreuth Festival, to select the orchestra and to build up a team of assistants. In addition, in this role he will advise the artistic management and provide international soloists.


The times of the respective festival directors are marked in color, based on the year of the premiere.

Richard Wagner 1876 ​​to 1882
Cosima Wagner 1883 to 1906
Siegfried Wagner 1908 to 1930
Winifred Wagner 1931 to 1944
Wieland and Wolfgang Wagner   1951 to 1966
Wolfgang Wagner 1967 to 2008
Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Katharina Wagner 2009 to 2015
Katharina Wagner since September 2015
year plant Staging musical direction Stage design Costumes
1876 Ring -1- Richard Wagner Hans Richter Josef Hoffmann Carl Emil Doepler
1882 (-1933) Parsifal -1- Richard Wagner Hermann Levi (1882–84, 1886, 1889, 1891–92, 1894), Franz Fischer (1882–84, 1899), Richard Wagner (last performance ended in 1882), Felix Mottl (1888, 1897), Anton Seidl (1897 ), Karl Muck (1901–02, 1906, 1908–09, 1911–12, 1914, 1924–25, 1927–28, 1930), Michael Balling (1904, 1906, 1908, 1911–12), Franz Beidler (1906 ), Siegfried Wagner (1909), Willibald Kaehler (1924-25), Arturo Toscanini (1931), Richard Strauss (1933) Max Brückner ,
Paul von Joukowsky
Paul von Joukowsky
1886 (-1906) Tristan -1- Cosima Wagner Felix Mottl (1886, 1889, 1891–92, 1906), Michael Balling (1906) Max Brückner Joseph Flüggen
1888 (-1899) Mastersinger -1- August Harlacher Hans Richter (1888–89, 1892, 1899), Felix Mottl (1892) Max Brückner
1891 (-1904) Tannhauser -1- Cosima Wagner Felix Mottl (1891–92), Richard Strauss (1894), Siegfried Wagner (1904) Max Brückner Joseph Flüggen
1894 (-1909) Lohengrin -1- Cosima Wagner Felix Mottl (1894), Siegfried Wagner (1908-09), Karl Muck (1909) Max Brückner Joseph Flüggen
1896 (-1931) Ring -2- Cosima Wagner Hans Richter (1896–97, 1901–02, 1904, 1906, 1908), Felix Mottl (1896), Siegfried Wagner (1896–97, 1899, 1901–02, 1906, 1911–12, 1928), Franz Beidler (1904 ), Michael Balling (1909, 1911–12, 1914, 1924–25), Franz von Hoeßlin (1927–28), Karl Elmendorff (1930–31) Max Brückner Arpad Schmidhammer ,
Hans Thoma
1901 (-1902) Dutch -1- Siegfried Wagner Felix Mottl Max Brückner Max Rossmann
1911 (-1925) Mastersinger -2- Siegfried Wagner Hans Richter (1911–12), Fritz Busch (1924), Karl Muck (1925) Max Brückner Daniela Thode
1914 Dutch -2- Siegfried Wagner Siegfried Wagner Siegfried Wagner Daniela Thode, Max Roßmann
1927 (-1931) Tristan -2- Siegfried Wagner Karl Elmendorff (1927–28), Arturo Toscanini (1930), Wilhelm Furtwängler (1931) Kurt Söhnlein Daniela Thode, Irma Kidney Home
1930 (-1931) Tannhauser -2- Siegfried Wagner Arturo Toscanini Kurt Söhnlein Daniela Thode, Irma Kidney Home
1933 (-1934) Mastersinger -3- Heinz Tietjen Karl Elmendorff, Heinz Tietjen Emil Preetorius Emil Preetorius, Kurt Palm
1933 (-1942) Ring -3- Heinz Tietjen Karl Elmendorff (1933–34, 1942), Heinz Tietjen (1934, 1936, 1938–39, 1941), Wilhelm Furtwängler (1936–37), Franz von Hoeßlin (1940) Emil Preetorius Emil Preetorius, Kurt Palm
1934 (-1936) Parsifal -2- Heinz Tietjen Franz von Hoeßlin (1934), Richard Strauss (1934), Wilhelm Furtwängler (1936) Alfred Roller Emil Preetorius, Alfred Roller
1936 (-1937) Lohengrin -2- Heinz Tietjen Wilhelm Furtwängler (1936), Heinz Tietjen (1936–37) Emil Preetorius Emil Preetorius
1937 (-1939) Parsifal -3- Heinz Tietjen Wilhelm Furtwängler (1937), Franz von Hoeßlin (1938–39) Wieland Wagner Alfred Roller, Wieland Wagner
1938 (-1939) Tristan -3- Heinz Tietjen Karl Elmendorff (1938), Victor de Sabata (1939) Emil Preetorius Emil Preetorius
1939 (-1942) Dutch -3- Heinz Tietjen Karl Elmendorff (1939–41), Richard Kraus (1942) Emil Preetorius Emil Preetorius
1943 (-1944) Mastersinger -4- Heinz Tietjen Wilhelm Furtwängler, Hermann Abendroth Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm, Emil Preetorius,
Wieland Wagner
1951 (-1973) Parsifal -4- Wieland Wagner Hans Knappertsbusch (1951–52, 1954–64), Clemens Krauss (1953), André Cluytens (1957, 1965), Pierre Boulez (1966–68, 1970), Horst Stein (1969), Eugen Jochum (1971–73) Wieland Wagner Charlotte Vocke
1951 (-1952) Mastersinger -5- Rudolf Otto Hartmann Herbert von Karajan (1951), Hans Knappertsbusch (1951–52) Hans C. Reissinger Margarete Kaulbach
1951 (-1958) Ring -4- Wieland Wagner Herbert von Karajan (1951), Hans Knappertsbusch (1951, 1956–58), Joseph Keilberth (1952–56), Clemens Krauss (1953) Wieland Wagner Ingrid Jorissen
1952 (-1953) Tristan -4- Wieland Wagner Herbert von Karajan (1952), Eugen Jochum (1953) Wieland Wagner Fred Thiel
1953 (-1954) Lohengrin -3- Wolfgang Wagner Joseph Keilberth (1953–54), Eugen Jochum (1954) Wolfgang Wagner Fred Thiel
1954 (-1955) Tannhauser -3- Wieland Wagner Joseph Keilberth (1954–55), Eugen Jochum (1954), André Cluytens (1955) Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm
1955 (-1956) Dutch -4- Wolfgang Wagner Joseph Keilberth (1955–56), Hans Knappertsbusch (1955) Wolfgang Wagner Kurt Palm
1956 (-1960) Mastersinger -6- Wieland Wagner André Cluytens (1956–58), Erich Leinsdorf (1959), Hans Knappertsbusch (1960) Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm
1957 (-1959) Tristan -5- Wolfgang Wagner Wolfgang Sawallisch Wolfgang Wagner Kurt Palm
1958 (-1962) Lohengrin -4- Wieland Wagner André Cluytens (1958), Lovro von Matačić (1959), Heinz Tietjen (1959), Ferdinand Leitner (1960), Lorin Maazel (1960), Wolfgang Sawallisch (1962) Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm
1959 (-1965) Dutch -5- Wieland Wagner Wolfgang Sawallisch (1959–61), Otmar Suitner (1965) Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm
1960 (-1964) Ring -5- Wolfgang Wagner Rudolf Kempe (1960–63), Berislav Klobučar (1964) Wolfgang Wagner Kurt Palm
1961 (-1967) Tannhauser -4- Wieland Wagner Wolfgang Sawallisch (1961–62), Otmar Suitner (1964), André Cluytens (1965), Carl Melles (1966), Berislav Klobučar (1967) Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm
1962 (-1970) Tristan -6- Wieland Wagner Karl Böhm (1962–64, 1966, 1968–70) Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm
1963 (-1964) Mastersinger -7- Wieland Wagner Thomas Schippers (1963), Karl Böhm (1964), Robert Heger (1964) Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm
1965 (-1969) Ring -6- Wieland Wagner Karl Böhm (1965–66; Walküre and Götterdämmerung 1967), Otmar Suitner (1966–67), Lorin Maazel (1968–69) Wieland Wagner Kurt Palm
1967 (-1972) Lohengrin -5- Wolfgang Wagner Rudolf Kempe (1967), Berislav Klobučar (1967), Alberto Erede (1968), Silvio Varviso (1971–72) Wolfgang Wagner Kurt Palm
1968 (-1975) Mastersinger -8- Wolfgang Wagner Berislav Klobučar (1968–69), Hans Wallat (1970), Silvio Varviso (1973–74), Heinrich Hollreiser (1975) Wolfgang Wagner Kurt Palm
1969 (-1971) Dutch -6- August Everding Silvio Varviso (1969–70), Karl Böhm (1971), Hans Wallat (1971) Josef Svoboda Jörg Zimmermann
1970 (-1975) Ring -7- Wolfgang Wagner Horst Stein Wolfgang Wagner Kurt Palm
1972 (-1978) Tannhauser -5- Götz Friedrich Erich Leinsdorf (1972), Horst Stein (1972–73), Heinrich Hollreiser (1973–74), Colin Davis (1977–78) Jürgen Rose Jürgen Rose
1974 (-1977) Tristan -7- August Everding Carlos Kleiber (1974–76), Horst Stein (1976–77) Josef Svoboda Reinhard Heinrich
1975 (-1981) Parsifal -5- Wolfgang Wagner Horst Stein (1975-81), Hans Zender (1975) Wolfgang Wagner Reinhard Heinrich
1976 (-1980) Ring -8-
(" Ring of the Century ")
Patrice Chereau Pierre Boulez Richard Peduzzi Jacques Schmidt
1978 (-1985) Dutch -7- Harry Copper Dennis Russell Davies (1978–80), Peter Schneider (1981–82), Woldemar Nelsson (1984–85) Peter Sykora Reinhard Heinrich
1979 (-1982) Lohengrin -6- Götz Friedrich Edo de Waart (1979), Woldemar Nelsson (1980-82) Günther Uecker Frida Parmeggiani
1981 (-1987) Tristan -8- Jean-Pierre Ponnelle Daniel Barenboim Jean-Pierre Ponnelle Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
1981 (-1988) Mastersinger -9- Wolfgang Wagner Mark Elder (1981), Horst Stein (1982–84, 1986), Michael Schønwandt (1987–88) Wolfgang Wagner Reinhard Heinrich
1982 (-1988) Parsifal -6- Götz Friedrich James Levine (1982-86, 1988), Daniel Barenboim (1987) Andreas Reinhardt Andreas Reinhardt
1983 (-1986) Ring -9- Peter Hall Georg Solti (1983), Peter Schneider (1984–86) William Dudley William Dudley
1985 (-1995) Tannhauser -6- Wolfgang Wagner Giuseppe Sinopoli Wolfgang Wagner Reinhard Heinrich
1987 (-1993) Lohengrin -7- Werner Herzog Peter Schneider Henning von Gierke Henning von Gierke
1988 (-1992) Ring -10- Harry Copper Daniel Barenboim Hans Schavernoch Reinhard Heinrich
1989 (-2001) Parsifal -7- Wolfgang Wagner James Levine (1989–93), Giuseppe Sinopoli (1994–99), Christoph Eschenbach (2000), Christian Thielemann (2001) Wolfgang Wagner Reinhard Heinrich
1990 (-1999) Dutch -8- Dieter Dorn Giuseppe Sinopoli (1990–93), Peter Schneider (1994, 1998–99) Jürgen Rose Jürgen Rose
1993 (-1999) Tristan -9- Heiner Muller Daniel Barenboim Erich Wonder Yōji Yamamoto
1994 (-1998) Ring -11- Alfred Kirchner James Levine Rosalie Rosalie
1996 (-2002) Mastersinger -10- Wolfgang Wagner Daniel Barenboim (1996–99), Christian Thielemann (2000–02) Wolfgang Wagner Reinhard Heinrich
1999 (–2005) Lohengrin -8- Keith Warner Antonio Pappano (1999-2001), Andrew Davis (2002-03), Peter Schneider (2005) Stefanos Lazaridis Sue Blane
2000 (-2004) Ring -12- Jürgen Flimm Giuseppe Sinopoli (2000), Ádám Fischer (2001-04) Erich Wonder Florence von Gerkan
2002 (-2007) Tannhauser -7- Philippe Arlaud Christian Thielemann (2002–05), Christoph Ulrich Meier (2007) Philippe Arlaud Carin Bartels
2003 (-2006) Dutch -9- Claus Guth Marc Albrecht Christian Schmidt Christian Schmidt
2004 (-2007) Parsifal -8- Christoph Schlingensief Pierre Boulez (2004–05), Ádám Fischer (2006–07) Daniel Angermayr ,
Thomas Goerge
Tabea brown
2005 (-2012) Tristan -10- Christoph Marthaler Eiji Ōue (2005), Peter Schneider (2006, 2008-09, 2011-12) Anna Viebrock Anna Viebrock
2006 (–2010) Ring -13- Tankred Dorst Christian Thielemann Frank Philipp Schlößmann Bernd Ernst Skodzig
2007 (–2011) Mastersinger -11- Katharina Wagner Sebastian Weigle Tilo Steffens Michaela Barth
2008 (-2012) Parsifal -9- Stefan Herheim Daniele Gatti (2008-11), Philippe Jordan (2012) Heike Scheele Gesine Völlm
2010 (–2015) Lohengrin -9- Hans Neuenfels Andris Nelsons (2010-14), Alain Altinoglu (2015) Reinhard von der Thannen Reinhard von der Thannen
2011 (–2014) Tannhauser -8- Sebastian Baumgarten Thomas Hengelbrock (2011), Peter Tilling (2011), Christian Thielemann (2012), Axel Kober (2013-14) Joep van Lieshout Nina von Mechow
2012 (–2018) Dutch -10- Jan Philipp Gloger Christian Thielemann (2012–14), Axel Kober (2015–16, 2018) Christof Hetzer Karin Jud
2013 (–2017, 2018 Die Walküre) Ring -14- Frank Castorf Kirill Petrenko (2013–15), Marek Janowski (2016–17), Plácido Domingo (2018 Die Walküre) Aleksandar Denic Adriana Braga Peretzki
2015 (–2019) Tristan -11- Katharina Wagner Christian Thielemann (2015-19) Frank Philipp Schlößmann, Matthias Lippert Thomas Kaiser
2016 (-2019) Parsifal -10- Uwe Eric Laufenberg Hartmut Haenchen (2016–17), Marek Janowski (2017), Semyon Bychkov (2018–19) Gisbert Jäkel Jessica Karge
2017 (-?) Mastersinger -12- Barrie Kosky Philippe Jordan (2017-?) Rebecca Ringst Klaus Bruns
2018 (-?) Lohengrin -10- Yuval Sharon Christian Thielemann (2018-?) Neo Rauch Rosa Loy
2019 (-?) Tannhauser Tobias Kratzer Valery Gergiev (2019), Christian Thielemann (2019) Rainer Sellmaier Rainer Sellmaier
year plant Staging musical direction Stage design Costumes

Planning for the upcoming festival

year plant Staging musical direction Stage design Costumes
2022 (-?) ring Valentin Black Pietari Inkinen Andrea Cozzi Andy visit
2021 (-?) The Flying Dutchman

"Blue Girls"

The bouncers of the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth were referred to as “blue girls” . The name arose from the traditional blue color of their uniform until 2008. Since the festival summer of 2009, however, they have been dressed in a uniform gray, from the 2018 season the admission staff will be dressed in dark pantsuits.

In the early days it was preferably unmarried young women from the vicinity of Bayreuth, afterwards students of theater and opera-related courses from Bayreuth, Germany, Europe and the world dominated. They had the opportunity to watch and listen to almost all 30 performances of a festival season of the Richard Wagner Festival. From the 2015 season, male bouncers will also be on duty.

Media marketing, guest performance


From 1952 to 1987 Siegfried Lauterwasser recorded the productions of the Bayreuth Festival as a stage photographer. Enrico Nawrath has been the stage photographer since 2008 .


On August 18, 1931, the German Hour in Bavaria broadcast a performance live from the Festspielhaus for the first time: Tristan und Isolde , conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler . More than 200 European, American and African channels were connected; it was the "first world broadcast in the history of broadcasting".

Movie and TV

There are film recordings of some Bayreuth productions, including a .:

Guest performance

On January 30 and February 1, 2019, a guest performance of the Bayreuth Festival took place in Abu Dhabi in the Emirates Palace Hotel , its first ever. Die Walküre will be performed in concert, with a film produced especially for the occasion as the background. Markus Poschner is the musical director .

Public viewing and internet

In 2008 the first public viewing of a performance of the Bayreuth Festival took place as a live broadcast from the Festspielhaus . At the Bayreuth Festival 2010, the first public viewing for children was in the morning with the film screening of the children's opera Tannhäuser and the singer's war on Wartburg as well as the interactive Wagner adventure course and supporting program for children. The performances could also be followed as a live stream on the Internet.

After the sponsor Siemens withdrew, there was no public viewing on the Volksfestplatz in 2012 . Instead, a performance of Parsifal was shown live in over a hundred cinemas on August 11th. The break program with insights behind the scenes and interviews was moderated by Katharina Wagner , Klaus Florian Vogt and Axel Brüggemann . In 2013 a performance of the Flying Dutchman, 2014 one of Tannhauser, 2015 one of Tristan in the production of Katharina Wagner and in 2016 one of Parsifal under the direction of Hartmut Haenchen was broadcast in the cinema. In 2017, Barrie Kosky's Meistersinger production was broadcast in cinemas, on Sky Arts and in a live stream on the BR-Klassik website .

Introductory lectures

Since the festival was resumed after the Second World War in 1951, there have been introductory lectures on the performance days for the performances that take place on the same days. The speakers for this series of events proposed by Wieland Wagner were Erich Rappl and, from 1998, Stefan Mickisch . For several years now, two introductory lectures have been held for each performance, speakers are or were Stefan Mickisch and Detlev Eisinger (in this position from 2002 to 2008 inclusive). Often more than 10,000 listeners are counted per season. Lectures in English and French will also be offered on individual days. In addition to the commercial introductions to the work, there have been production-related introductory lectures in the Festspielhaus itself for some years now, but these are reserved for people who have a ticket for the respective performance in the evening. These lectures begin at 10:30 a.m. on the day of the performance. The speaker is Sven Friedrich, director of the Richard Wagner Museum with the National Archives and research facility of the Richard Wagner Foundation Bayreuth. Since 2013, generally accessible introductory lectures have been offered two hours before the start of the performance in the Walhall Lounge directly on the festival grounds.

Richard Wagner for children

Children's festival logo

In 2009, a one-hour adaptation of the Flying Dutchman , designed for children from six to ten years of age, was played on rehearsal stage IV of the Festspielhaus (text version: Alexander Busche; facility for 19 musicians / musical director: Christoph Ulrich Meier ; director: Alvaro Schoeck, set design: Merle Vierck; cooperation partner: University of Music "Hanns Eisler" Berlin ).

In 2010 a Tannhäuser adaptation was played, in 2011 a ring for children, in 2012 a child-friendly version of the Meistersinger von Nürnberg (director: Eva-Maria Weiss; musical director: Hartmut Keil ), 2013 (director: Michael Höppner; musical director: Boris Schäfer) one by Tristan und Isolde, 2014 a Lohengrin (director: Maria-Magdalena Kwaschik; musical director: Boris Schäfer), 2015 Parsifal in a version by Katharina Wagner (director: Tristan Braun; musical director: Boris Schäfer). and in 2016 a child-friendly version of the Flying Dutchman. In 2017, a new Tannhäuser production was performed and thus the entire Bayreuth canon of works is also in its second series in the children's operas. The 10 performances take place in the first two weeks of the festival (July 25th - August 10th) and have been shown on rehearsal stage IV since 2009. The children's festival orchestra is the Brandenburg State Orchestra Frankfurt (Oder) . A special feature is the participation of children in the production through costume competitions or as extras on the stage.



  • After visiting Parsifal in 1910, Igor Stravinsky declared that only the thought of the cigarette, the beer and the sausages during the break had made him survive the agony.
  • Vicco von Bülow alias Loriot was a regular festival guest. In an interview he responded to the questions: “What is perfect happiness for you?” - “Bayreuth (arrival)”. "The greatest misfortune?" - "Bayreuth (departure)".


  • Bernd Buchner: Wagner's world theater. The history of the Bayreuth Festival between art and politics . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2013, ISBN 978-3-534-25165-0 .
  • Markus Kiesel (ed.): Das-Richard-Wagner-Festspielhaus Bayreuth . Nettpress, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-00-020809-6 .
  • Enrico Nawrath, Katharina Wagner: Bayreuth backstage: Inside views of the Green Hill . Schott, Mainz 2009, ISBN 978-3-7957-0196-3 .
  • Frederic Spotts: Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival . Fink, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-7705-2967-7 .
  • Oswald Georg Bauer "The History of the Bayreuth Festival" Deutscher Kunst-Verlag, Regensburg, 2 volumes, numerous illustrations ISBN 978-3-422-07343-2

Web links

Commons : Bayreuth Festival  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Bayreuth Festival: Suspension of the Bayreuth Festival , accessed on March 31, 2020
  2.  ( page no longer available , search in web archives ).@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  3. Jan Brachmann: Because of the corona pandemic: Bayreuth Festival has been canceled. In: March 31, 2020, accessed March 31, 2020 .
  4. ^ W. Bronnenmeyer: Richard Wagner. Citizens in Bayreuth . Ellwanger, Bayreuth 1983, p. 47 .
  5. a b Nicolaus Steeken: The Invention of Fundraising . In: Gesellschaft der Freunde Bayreuths (ed.): Almanach 2010 , ISBN 978-3-925361-84-5 , pp. 144–151.
  6. We want to leave the Jews out . In: Die Welt , July 10, 2012.
  7. Spotts 1994, p. 111 f.
  8. a b Bernd Mayer : Bayreuth as it was. Flash lights from the city's history 1850–1950 . 2nd Edition. Gondrom, Bayreuth 1981, p. 44 ff .
  9. A visit to the festival: When Mark Twain almost starved to death in Bayreuth, on August 18, 2019, accessed on January 3, 2020
  10. a b Bernd Mayer: Bayreuth as it was , p. 70.
  11. ^ The history of the Richard Wagner Foundation with the National Archives , Siegfried and Winifred Wagner's joint testament from March 8, 1929 - Testament. ( Memento of October 17, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) on the website of the Richard Wagner Museum Bayreuth.
  12. Cf. Brigitte Hamann: Winifred Wagner or Hitler's Bayreuth , pp. 143–173.
  13. Hans Mayer: “But Alberich is alive.” Hans Mayer's speech of thanks for the award of the Wilhelm Pitz Prize (1998), quoted from Oper & Tanz , 2000/03.
  14. Holger R. Stunz: Hitler and the “Gleichschaltung” of the Bayreuth Festival (PDF). In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte , 2/2007, pp. 237–268.
  15. ^ Brigitte Hamann : Winifred Wagner or Hitler's Bayreuth, pp. 408–478.
  16. ^ Josef Kaut: Salzburg Festival 1920-1981. Salzburg 1982.
  17. ^ Michael Karbaum: Studies on the History of the Bayreuth Festival (1876-1976) . Gustav Bosse Verlag, Regensburg 1976, ISBN 3-7649-2060-2 , p. 95 ff.
  18. ^ Brigitte Hamann : Winfred Wagner or Hitler's Bayreuth . P. 571ff
  19. Both quotations from Manfred Wegner: Music and Mammon - the permanent crisis of musical culture . Nomos, Baden-Baden 1999, ISBN 3-7890-6198-0 , p. 163.
  20. ^ Michael Karbaum: Studies on the History of the Bayreuth Festival (1876-1976) . Gustav Bosse Verlag, Regensburg 1976, ISBN 3-7649-2060-2 , p. 105
  21. Wolfgang Seifert: The zero hour of Neubayreuth (Part II) . In: Neue Zeitschrift für Musik , year 1971, issue 2, p. 74.
  22. a b c Manfred Wegner: Music and Mammon. The permanent crisis in music culture. Nomos, Baden-Baden 1999, ISBN 3-7890-6198-0 , pp. 159–167 (chapter Bayreuth Festival - national companies or private cultural empire ).
  23. Harald Schiller: From Wagner cult to card madness - The card policy of the Bayreuth Festival. In: Festivals Summer 2008. Metz, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-937742-27-4 , pp. 140–144.
  24. Lucas Wiegelmann: Incompatible with the federal funding goals . In: Die Welt , June 24, 2011.
  25. Olaf Przybilla : Dispute over Bayreuth tickets - The end of the DGB Festival . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , December 14, 2011.
  26. ^ Cards in Bayreuth are being reshuffled ( memento from November 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). In: Südkurier , March 8, 2012.
  27. Wagner Association boss: "Grumbling brings nothing" . In: Abendzeitung , March 10, 2012.
  28. ^ What will take a long time: Reform of ticket allocation in Bayreuth is making headway, at, March 9, 2012.
  29. Seating plan and prices 2016 ( Memento from July 25, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF), accessed on July 25, 2016.
  30. a b Sven Prange, Claudia Schumacher: Der Subventionsstadl. In: Handelsblatt , March 30, 2012, pp. 64–69.
  31. Seating plan and prices 2017 ( Memento from September 2, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF), accessed on July 25, 2016.
  32. ^ Uwe Renners: Festival Bayreuth: Waiting for the tickets. In: Nordbayerischer Kurier. January 31, 2016, accessed September 23, 2018 .
  33. Claudia Panster: Due legal capacity . In: Handelsblatt , July 25, 2012, p. 46.
  34. Broadside in the direction of the Festspielhaus in: Nordbayerischer Kurier of July 22, 2016, p. 13
  35. ^ Eva Wagner-Pasquier ready to direct the festival . ( Memento from May 6, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), April 18, 2008 (web archive)
  36. the window on classical music ( Memento from May 6, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  37. Bayreuth Festival: Wagner-Pasquier hands over the festival management . Spiegel Online , February 21, 2014
  38. Christian Thielemann appointed music director of the Bayreuth Festival . In: Journal of Friends of Bayreuth , Society of Friends of Bayreuth e. V., July 9, 2015.
  39. Christian Thielemann on Bayreuth and Berlin: "The slightly larger piece of cake" . ( Memento from July 9, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) BR-Klassik, July 7, 2015.
  40. ^ Peter P. Pachl: Press conference without the festival management - The Bayreuth Festival actively combating the black market . In: new music newspaper online, July 25, 2015.
  41. Christian Thielemann in conversation with Annika Tüsselel: Christian Thielemann on Bayreuth and Berlin In: BR-Klassik, 7 July 2016.
  42. ^ Tannhauser. In: Bayreuth Festival. Retrieved on July 26, 2019 (German).
  43. ^ Suspension of the Bayreuth Festival 2020. In: Bayreuth Festival. March 31, 2020, accessed April 10, 2020 (German).
  44. Jonathan Meese is to direct in Bayreuth , Hamburger Abendblatt online from July 26, 2012, accessed on July 26, 2012
  45. a b Bayreuth Festival Schedule 2020 , Opern- & Konzertkritik Berlin, July 24, 2019, accessed on July 26, 2019
  46. a b Bayreuth Festival Schedule 2020 , Bayreuth Festival, August 10, 2019, accessed on August 11, 2019
  47. Report on the “Blue Girls” ( memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) in the festival magazine
  50. Bayerischer Rundfunk: Historical Archive: The Chronicle of BR at a Glance - February 29, 2016, accessed September 17, 2018 .
  51. , classics-to-host-bayreuth-festival-s-first-performance-outside-germany-1.756186 , of-the-show-in-bayreuth-festival-s-latest-take-on-die-walk% C3% BCre-1.820365
  52. ^ A b Richard Wagner for free, outside and on the net . Stern , August 21, 2010. Retrieved December 7, 2015
  53. Calendar - BF Medien. Retrieved July 28, 2015 .
  54. ^ A b Regina Ehm-Klier: Bayreuth Festival - what was, what is to come. In: August 28, 2016. Retrieved September 17, 2018 .
  55. Introductory lectures . In: Bayreuth Festival. Retrieved on July 25, 2019 (German).
  56. Storms of applause in Bayreuth - for the children's "Parsifal" . Welt Online , July 25, 2015.

Coordinates: 49 ° 57 ′ 34 ″  N , 11 ° 34 ′ 46 ″  E