Music paths in Bayreuth


Bayreuth! Maybe this name doesn’t sound familiar to you, but believe me, I’ve also spent some time until I didn’t learn to pronounce correctly name of this German town. It is situated in Bavarian region Upper Franconia and it was first mentioned in 12th century.

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However, turn out to be an extraordinary place, like I’ve never supposed it could be. Precisely in this town it is held Festival of Wagner’s opera every August (Bayreuther Festspiele) and Festival of young artists (Festival Junger Künstler Bayreuth). Beside Wagner’s house, there are also museums of composer Franz Liszt (Wagner was married to Liszt’s daughter Cosima) and writer Jean Paul.

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Wagner’s opera house viewed from the park

I was interested in find out what had prompted famous composer Richard Wagner to spend a part of his life here and built an opera house. After arrived in Bayreuth he was fascinated, but had also realized that existing opera house was to small for his orchestra. Then, he got an idea to build his own opera house in this town, which would be bigger and could receive an entire composer’s orchestra.

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Thanks to benevolence of the king  Ludwig II, Wagner achieved to realize his idea and 1876 a new opera house started to work with the premiere performance cycle of four operas ”Ring of the Nibelung’’. It was built in the part of the city popularly called ‘’Green berg”.

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Villa Wahnfried where Wagner lived

The name of the opera house is Festspielhaus, translated from German  Festival hall. It represented an architectural vanguard for that period, and unlike other opera houses, exterior isn’t decorative, but it is simple and functional.

An idea was that a hall took a shape of an ancient theater, that all the seats were facing a stage, without the additional galleries and the side lodges and had 1925 seats. Wagner insisted that seats weren’t  covered with a fabric, because of a better acoustics and the reason that seats were made only from a wood was that composer didn’t want that audience were to much relaxed while were listening his masterfully performances.

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Interior of the opera house

Festival is held in present too, every summer from end of July until end of August. It is long wait on the tickets, which often are booked a several years ahead and the price depends on level of the seats and ranges from 15 to 300 euros for one performance.

If you go there in time of a festival, you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy in a great performances of a worldwide musicians, and what represents sort of a pleasure is a park in front of the opera house where you can enjoy during pause between the acts.

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Park in front of the opera house

I was surprised by the fact that such a serious and dramatic music was realized by a totally new, modern and vanguard production, and the costumes are also rarely in the original epoch of the opera’s act. What can you hear sometimes in the end of the performance is whistle from the audience, but not because of a dissatisfaction with the musicians and singers, but due to misunderstanding of a modern production, scenery or direction.

If you decide to visit some of the opera performances be prepared to spend a certain part of your time there, because the performances start about 4 pm and end after 10 pm. Certainly it is worth to visit it, because this is a unique way to feel a music powerful and close up. Be on time, because the door are closed five minutes after performance starts, so later arrival isn’t an option.

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One advice in the end – choose an appropriate outfit, because people there try always to appear in their best looks, combining chic and classic with  a modern style, and let go to the magic of a divine music.

Author of this text and the photos is Milan Mladenov, graduated music artist. He graduated in saxophone on Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia. He is an opera singer and as a musician he gained a professional  practice in Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he has performed.

‘I am interested in a many segments in study of culture and art’.

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