Summer woes: Bayreuth won’t let sick man sell his tickets

Summer woes: Bayreuth won’t let sick man sell his tickets


norman lebrecht

August 05, 2018

From a reader:

Dear Mr Lebrecht, I thought I would relay to you an unfortunate Bayreuth festival story which has happened to my friends and me. It would seem that the Bayreuth festival is refusing to resell tickets – which are now electronic – for fear of fraud.

I surprisingly ended up with 3 pairs of tickets for the festival this year, on my second year of trying. The rules state you have to buy all tickets given within 1 month of them being granted, so I bought them all. You can nominate and resell legally, so I gave a pair to my parents, am keeping a pair for myself + partner, and sold two off to my good friend S. and his wife. The week before Holländer II (3Aug) S. was taken ill with throat cancer, and I’ve tried to resell those tickets since 28 July.

Bayreuth have said they can only resell tickets which haven’t been nominated, and have doggedly refused to resell my/our tickets, in spite of me sending medical documents etc, which presumably means the opera had empty seats while (presumably) there’s still a demand for them. How absurd? The waiting time is years, and yet the festival are refusing to enforce the ”returns” market, which actually makes many festivals and classical venues more vibrant.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to my first visit in 2 weeks, as I feel angry about this episode – the tickets were €240 each.

(documentation supplied)




  • Alan O’Connor says:

    Wow. I couldn’t make Salzburg last year due to an emergency medical issue. I couldn’t get the tickets back to them as there was less than a week to the performances, seven altogether, I was to attend. Following email discussions they told me to cut up the tickets, send them a photo of same and they would attempt to resell them minus fifteen per cent commission. I did and they sold six of the seven tickets and I got a good three quarters of my money back.

    My sympathies to your correspondent. I hope his friend recovers. And the Bayreuth people really should get a hold of themselves.

  • Bogda says:

    Well according to the email which was sent out by the Festival to ticket holders, he actually can sell tickets on his own to someone else and then change name on the ticket at the Festival ticket office. What i understand from his letter is that Bayreuth ticket office will not resell it for him, but no one is preventing it from doing it himself.

    “Sollte Ihr Ticket falsch personalisiert sein, kommen Sie (oder der neue Besitzer des Tickets) bitte am Tag der jeweiligen Aufführung mit dem bereits ausgedruckten Ticket ins Kartenbüro im Festspielhaus. Das Kartenbüro hat zwischen 10 und 12 Uhr sowie zwei Stunden vor Aufführungsbeginn geöffnet. Bitte bringen Sie ein gültiges amtliches Ausweisdokument mit, damit das Ticket neu personalisiert werden kann.”

    • Suzanne says:

      The Festival box office ought to be able to communicate this fact clearly, kindly and promptly to him in English. He may have misunderstood, but there is no excuse for the well-known poor service at the Bayreuth Festival. He should also be advised that he and his guest must have their passport / I.Ds with them, not just their tickets, when they attend performances, or they will not be let in!

      • Bogda says:

        Certainly, they should be able to do that, and there can’t be excuse for it.

      • Monsoon says:

        It also seems like the Festival could just manage a ticket exchange marketplace like sports teams do. When someone resells a ticket through the exchange a brand new ticket is issued to the buyer and the old one voided. And the marketplace caps the resell price to prevent scalping.

      • SVM says:

        Re: “The Festival box office ought to be able to communicate this fact clearly, kindly and promptly to him in English.”

        Bayreuth is located in Germany, where the official language is German. Nobody would condemn a British box-office for failure to “communicate […] clearly, kindly[,] and promptly” to an individual customer in German (which is a major international language), so why the double standard here? The world does not owe us an English translation just because we cannot be bothered to learn the local language.

        • Bill says:

          An English box office which sold a vast percentage of its tickets to people from elsewhere might well be able to arrange communications in other common languages. After all, they just need a translation of the ticket policy statement on hand in a handful of languages; plenty of websites with an international audience manage to deliver the bulk of their content in multiple languages!

          My trips to Germany have always revealed that a large number of Germans speak English at least as well as I speak German. It is surprising to me that no one could be found in the ticket office who could at least attempt to clear this situation up.

  • Charles says:

    Perhaps, knowing the terms and conditions, it would have been more prudent to buy tickets just for yourself, rather than involving others, who you could not guarantee their attendance?

    I understand the reason was unavoidable, but sometimes this sort of situation arises and you are the one seemingly faced with being out of pocket.

  • Simon Evnine says:

    ==he and his guest must have their passport / I.Ds with them, not just their tickets, when they attend performances,

    What ? This puts me off from even applying for tickets.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      I have never been to Bayreuth, and intend to keep things that way, but this condition is not unique to them.

      • The View from America says:

        This is true with at least several of the leading U.S. orchestras as well (ones where I’ve attended concerts in the past three years or so.).

        I carry my ID card just in case I’m ever asked to present it. And I would do the same with my passport if I were attending performances outside the country.

        • Monsoon says:


          Which US orchestras ask for ID?!

          I’ve been to LA, Atlanta, NYC, Met Opera, Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall, and Chicago in the last two years; none asked me for ID. And only the Met checks bags and wands people.

    • Andreas B. says:

      ah, the inevitable reductio ad Hitlerum, how very amusing!

      however, if you do have to mention ze var: please don’t forget the Umlaut – it should be ‘müssen’ .
      the Germans are sticklers for detail, after all …

  • Beinisch says:

    I have been to Bayreuth many times,and I was never asked for my passport.
    Actually I had never carried my passport with me to the performances.
    Once you hold a ticket you are allowed to get in.

    • Anon says:

      I have had the same experience. At the same time some years ago I did see another conertgoer being stopped and asked for ID. I think he was being checked because he was dressed casually, the sinner.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Is there still a years long waiting list? Really?

  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    That is so ridiculous. When I couldn’t go to an opera at the Liceu in Barcelona (coming from UK) I passed the tickets on to the Conservatoire there to give to a couple of deserving students, having first checked with the Liceu that the names on the tickets didn’t matter.
    Bayreuth is so up itself. I am unlikely ever to wish to attend any performances there.

  • Furzwängler says:

    On a side note, that photo, above, with the three direction signs seems so apt:

    Festspielhaus – Festival Venue

    Nervenkrankenhaus – Psychiatric Hospital

    Arbeitsamt – Job Centre/Labor Exchange

    One could hardly make it up. Almost Pythonesque.

    • Bruce says:

      Ha! I had just skipped the picture and read the story.

      It’s especially good that all the arrows point in the same direction, leaving one to wonder: do they also point to the same building??

      • Furzwängler says:

        They may well do so. Still, at least they left off an arrow in the same direction showing the way to the Villa Wahnsinn ….. oops, I mean of course the Villa Wahnfried.

    • Edgar says:

      O Jubel, o Freud!
      s’Ist Wagnertag heut! 🙂

  • Rob says:

    What’s so special about buyreuth anyway? Mahler didn’t conduct there.