Major news: Bayreuth is no longer over-booked

Major news: Bayreuth is no longer over-booked


norman lebrecht

July 28, 2014

Eleonore Büning, the doyenne music critic of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has blasted Bayreuth with a shock discovery.

For the first time, there are empty spaces in the Festspielhaus. It’s not just Chancellor Angela Merkel who is staying away this year. So are many others who scored (and paid for) a ticket in the online lottery – and then didn’t bother to show up. Tickets can be found on the web.

Year upon year of shlock productions and weak management have alienated the audience, concludes Ms Büning. Read her here (auf Deutsch).

103. Bayreuther Festspiele - Tannhäuser



  • Susie says:

    I always heard there was a ten-year waiting list? Was this ever true? Are the empty seats a sign of poor economic times or actual dissatisfaction with Wagner?

    • sdReader says:

      It was true, Susie, in the days of paper bookings. Things are changing: the family has ceded some control to government over the last 20 years, the society of supporters has become less powerful, and the Internet makes everything more transparent and adjustable.

  • Simon S. says:

    Call me old fashioned, but I’ve been ordering by the standard procedure (which also works by e-mail right now) every year for seven or eight years now, without any success so far. Maybe it’s because I reacted to the price rise by switching to a lower category?

    • Petros Linardos says:

      That’s what I did, from the mid-80s through the late 90s. I received tickets once, after 8-10 consecutive years.

      I had been trying since 1978, but not consistently. Eventually I found out that by not ordering I would miss out on my waiting list position.

      I knew, however, of others who managed to go there every other year, or even every year. I knew second hand of someone who was doing an annual pilgrimage through the Thomas Cook travel agency. The supply of tickets was anything but straightforward.

      Without any doubt, demand outstripped supply, several times over.

      If this is no longer the case, it raises serious questions about the reasons why. I would love to believe that their Regietheater excesses are a big part of it. My anecdotal evidence is that people flocked there (at least in the 90s) despite some unattractive productions, primarily for musical reasons, especially for the amazing acoustics that allowed an unmatched orchestra-singer balance.

      I stopped ordering tickets in 2000, not only for personal reasons, but also because because I lost patience with Eurotrash productions.

  • Nadine Weissmann says:

    Angela Merkel is simply coming to Bayreuth a little later this year, to see Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.

  • william osborne says:

    I enjoyed Büning’s article, which Germans might refer to as being “Herb” – which could be translated as “bitterly pungent.” Lots of sarcasm; oblige insider allusions; talk of an opera world rife with provocations and scandals. How different from the prim, proper, and preppy world of American music journalism. The Grey Lady and her ilk seem like corpses in comparison – an approach befitting of opera in America with its traditional dullness and frequent death reports.

    Büning goes on to note that Bayreuth is rather dull this year: no fist-fights, no little Swastika scandals (remember that tattoo last year), no summary firings, no restraining orders, no family knock-down-drag-outs, and so on. So she feels there’s nothing to really report except that demand for tickets seems to have fallen and that the celebrities aren’t showing up as much. Oh dear, what would Bayreuth be without a parade of cultural and political assholes on the red carpet. Even the cadaverous Met is getting more press…

  • Terri Stuart says:

    Merkel came late because she was working with NATO colleagues on the horrible situation in the Ukraine and the downed Malaysia jet. Her absence had little to do with the productions and everything to do with the duties of her office.