Now Bayreuth bans seat cushions

Now Bayreuth bans seat cushions


norman lebrecht

July 08, 2016

As part of intensified security for this year’s Parsifal, the festival has banned seat cushions and handbags from the Festspielhaus. It is also asking patrons to arrived at east 45 minutes early for security checks.

‘Da erweiterte Kontrollmaßnahmen durch die Polizei nicht auszuschließen sind, planen Sie bitte für Ihre Ankunft am Festspielhaus und den Eintritt mehr Zeit als bisher ein.’

Opera house, or airport?


bayreuth fest fake account

There are going to be some sore rears after Parsifal.


  • Abendstern says:

    Insane! Those seats are barely-bearable with the cushions…

  • John Borstlap says:

    The seats’ design was specifically ordered in that way by Wagner himself, who wanted to prevent the audience treat his works like a pleasant, entertaining bourgeois spectacle: it was to be much deeper than that, comparable with church attendance – after all, Wagner considered his works as a form of Kunstreligion. Art as suffering and sacrifice, including the rear end, was his goal. Cushions are an instrusion into this beautiful ideal.

    • Peter says:

      not exactly a beautiful idea, maybe noble, maybe a bit “crazy”, Wahn-sinnig.

      • Olassus says:

        You should sit in a Bavarian church, like the big Sankt Michael in Munich, where the shelf of the pew behind digs purposefully into your mid-spine.

        Wagner did not invent this concept.

        • Mike Schachter says:

          Redemption through suffering?

          • John Borstlap says:

            For the 19C opera audience, excessive suffering of the rear end greatly improved identification with the protagonists’ longing for redemption.

  • mattheos says:

    And thou shalt suffer…

  • Peter says:

    The terrorists won.

    • May says:

      well said.

      • Dave T says:

        No, they haven’t. The performance will go on, that’s what is important, in spite of (or perhaps TO SPITE?) the terrorists. Butts may get sore, but that is a tiny price to pay for freedom of expression and the integrity of art.
        Kudos to the Bayreuth people for sticking with it and not giving in to intimidation by evil people who can’t face humanity. No matter the quality of the singing or the orchestral playing or the sets and such, this production is a ringing and historic success.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Agreed…. well said. And in case potential intruders are caught, binding them on the seats with bandaged mouth and have them experience the production would either cure them or renders them dumb for the rest of their life, which would be an exemplary demonstration of Europeanization.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Herbert Rosendorfer, in his ‘Bayreuth für Anfänger’, has a lovely take on the Festspielhaus seats when he says something along the lines of the audience really understanding the meaning of redemption when getting up after six hours of Parsifal.

    I’ve sat through everything there without a seat cushion. It’s no big deal.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The best preparation for attending a Bayreuth production is: ordering tickets 10 years beforehand and then, cultivating a diet including extremes of sugar and fat, so that by the time of the performance one’s behind is generously adapted to hard surfaces.

  • Mark says:

    Some things should remain unchanged, but others should change with the times. I just checked and saw that the Festspielhaus was erected about 140 years ago. Given its age, the building probably had the most minimal of indoor plumbing at that time. I guess as part of the required “suffering,” attendees were just supposed to “hold it in.” I also guess that the bathrooms have been updated and expanded since that time.

    Maybe seat cushions could be rented/sold to patrons who require them. With an appropriate emblem, they could be souvenirs of the opera performance. A security solution and a win-win for everyone.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Does anyone know who actually owns the Festspielhaus now?

    The Wagner family? The city? The state?

    I read that it was largely financed by Ludwig II but that would have originated as public tax money, much as for his several palaces that are Bavarian state property now.

    • John Borstlap says:

      If Wagner and the King had not got into a web of intrigue of the Bavarian politicians and population, and if W had not been so over-demonstrative with the King’s support, the original plan of a grand theatre in Munich, designed and built by master architect Semper, would have been realized, combining the King’s architectural fantasies with Wagner’s operatic ambitions. When it appeared that there was much too much resistance, both men went their own way – the King with his private castles, and Wagner with his small, provisional theatre in the province, far away from ‘public space’.

      The Munich Wagner theatre would have looked something like a combination of the Dresden Semper Oper and the Viennese Burgtheater (both built later-on by Semper):

      I think the Bayreuth theatre is now owned by the state and the Wagner family put in charge of running it indefinitely, dependent upon procreation.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    Well, there’s still a little bit of time to pack some kilos onto one’s posterior.

  • Frank says:

    I consider myself a pretty big opera lover but I have zero desire to see a performance in this place. First, no air-conditioning, then hard-as-a-rock benches. I’ll take my comfy sofa, opera DVDs and 50-inch screen TV, thank you.

  • Bennie says:

    Now we have one more body part that some people would consider having a cosmetic surgery.

  • Derek Williams says:

    Why don’t they just provide their own cushions?

    • Derek Williams says:

      (meaning the Festspielhaus of course)

      • John Borstlap says:

        It would be delightful if the Festival would provide cushions with the name of Richard Wagner embroidered on it, thus symbolically offering both pre-emptive redemption and a discrete protest gesture.

  • Michael VC says:

    Handbags – Abendtaschen – ARE allowed: they are specifically excluded from the new restrictions on cases, rucksacks, drinks (a very welcome prohibition) and sharp items.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The ban on sharp items will create some difficulty with Siegfried and Alberich, as well as Brünhilde’s outfit on the rock, but the handbag ban will not affect Brünhilde’s comfort zone, since Wotan positioned her in the flaming circle without any ladys’ accessoires.

      • Michael VC says:

        Are you suggesting Brünnhilde, great warrior goddess, is not a lady? I think you will find that helmet, breastplate, shield and spear were all required “lady’s accessoires” in her “circle”. Not to mention the various unnamed items that she probably kept about her person.

  • Michael says:

    Not half as uncomfortable as the seats in Sage 2 for the final Opera North Ring Cycle. Perhaps Bayreuth and the Sage could swap?