Trade unions attack Bayreuth for elitism

Trade unions attack Bayreuth for elitism


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2011

The German Trade Union Foundation has accused the Bayreuth Festival of betraying its founders’ ideals by pricing tickets out of the reach of the general public and creating an exclusivist atmosphere.

‘Richard Wagner’s legacy has been buried at Bayreuth,’ said Matthias Jena, the Bavarian trades union chairman. ‘Apparently the management has forgotten the history of this festival.’ Wagner, he added, intended it for the nation, not for the rich.

No comment from the Wagner family.


  • Richard Bratby says:

    In other news: Pope found to be Catholic.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Does anyone know how many union people really attended Bayreuth performances? Back in 1999 I attended a Meistersinger performance for unions, by buying a ticket at the last minute from someone who was selling it. I remember also running onto an acquaintance who happened to have a brother who somehow obtained tickets from a union. Many people I spoke with talked about union people not caring for the tickets and passing them on.

    The real elitism I saw in Bayreuth was in the way they provided tickets. Yes, they could sell out all their tickets many times over. As an ordinary mortal I could expect to obtain a ticket every 8-10 years, if I ordered annually. On the other hand, I had met others, who could obtain tickets annually, without being benefactors.

  • Norman, I am just about to report this but I think you may have missed the most important part. Now, I admit my none operatic German is not very good, but the reason the union is complaining about ticket prices is that the festival is removing the closed union only performance – which has very discounted tickets (and there used to be two such closed performances each year up-to 2009)!

    This is response to the investigation by the Bundesrechnungshof early this year (reported here:

    Oddly, the DGB have never previously mentioned having any concerns about Bayreuth ” betraying its founders’ ideals”