Breaking: Bayreuth Festival is called off

Breaking: Bayreuth Festival is called off


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2020

Katharina Wagner has just told BR-Klassik that this summer’s festival has been canceled.

The festival website says the decision was taken by its shareholders: the federal republic, the state of Bavaria, the town of Bayreuth and the society of friends.

It seems that a sudden local spike in Corona cases prompted the decision.




  • John Borstlap says:

    My fly on the wall tells me that the spike was caused by the prospect of another, now superfluous Gotterdammerung.

  • Ana Paula Russo says:

    I thought Germany was dealing pretty well with the virus crisis…Having in mind the lack of institutional support they (along with Netherlands and some other northern country) have shown towards southern countries like Italy, Spain and even France…

    • John Rook says:

      I think you’ll find this whole national/supranational debate might be a little more complex than that.

      • Ana Paula Russo says:

        I know and even understand certain points of view from healthcare authorities across Europe.What I find despicable is the obvious lack of solidarity when it comes to helping fellow countries in need. Mainly if they are from the south. As if we need lessons and being patronised by the Germans or the Dutch…!
        I am Portuguese and we are all trying to fight the problem and trying to help but hard times are on the way for all of us!

        • Tamino says:

          You complain about being patronised by the Germans, while you just have patronised them yourself.
          Do you even see the irony?

          What exactly have the Germans done wrong here? (except being always responsible for all things that go wrong in the south, east, north and west)

        • sycorax says:

          Is it “patronising” that German hospitals take on Italian corona sufferers?’

          Or is it possible that your posting is rather patronising towards Germany?

  • John Rook says:

    What else could they do? Any summer festival is on a hiding to nothing; the current situation making any kind of forward planning impossible. A clean bill of health even by early June would be too late to get that whole machinery in motion.

  • I had the chance to come there last year. It’s a sad and historic moment. But it was the good decision because this sad period will be long. And the special and magic configuration of the opera don’t help. It was a good decision to act quickly.

  • Olassus says:

    Funny how Die Welt knows before Katharina does! Poor thing.

  • J Victor says:

    Most Wagnerians would no doubt given the choice of virus or Festival, choose the latter.

  • E says:

    i give salzburg til friday to announce they cancel too.

    • Tamino says:

      Not so sure.
      They need to start with rehearsals in June.
      Bayreuth needed to start now.
      The resilience should be high in Salzburg to save the anniversary festival, at least much of it.

      The real problem are older audiences and if it’s advisable for them to sit in one room with thousand other people for two hours.
      But it’s still 3-4 full months until then.

      The good news is, that from now on anyone shouting boo will be arrested, on charges of attempted manslaughter by spreading contagious aerosol droplets. 🙂

  • RW2013 says:

    As the old Wolfgang would say, “Machen Sie schön Urlaub”.

    But the Wotan is not happy

  • Larry L. Lash / Vienna says:

    Is anyone really surprised? I predicted this for many weeks. Wiener Staatsoper will be next, cancelling the rest of its season set to run through 30 June, followed by Konzerthaus and Musikverein (there goes my Mahler VI. with the Berliners and Petrenko), the Grafenegg Festival (June through September), Salzburg Pfingsten (end of May/beginning of June), Bregenz, and the last hold-out will be the 100th anniversary of the summer Salzburg Festival.

    If you haven’t heard starting tomorrow we all must wear masks to go to the supermarket (where the number of people in the stores at any one time will be limited) and apothecary, and soon it will be just to walk on the street.

    And for years people thought I was crazy for amassing 7.000 CDs and 2.500 films on DVD! I am quite settled in for the long run – I suspect 12 to 18 months – with my Heimkino and 5,1 surround sound system, and Sam, the latest in the line of cats who have been my companions for the last 45 years.

    • E says:

      an entire orchestra in masks .. an entire audience in masks. and what would the wind players do? singers? it is all tragic but would be an astonishing sight

    • Saxon Broken says:

      There is no way that Austria will be in lockdown for 12-18 months. It will most likely be about 3-4 months. The next month will probably be the worst of the crisis in Western Europe and soon we will be thinking about how to come out of the lockdown.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Contrary to what “statement two hours ago” ? You didn’t provide any link.

    The only earlier statement I traced was to the effect that they were in the process of deciding.

    “Die Festspielleiterin Katharina Wagner sagte in einem öffentlichen Statement: „Momentan befinden wir uns in enger Abstimmung mit unseren Gremien und den zustĂ€ndigen Behörden und werden Ihnen sobald als möglich Informationen auf unserer Website zukommen lassen. SelbstverstĂ€ndliche steht die Gesundheit unserer GĂ€ste, aller Mitwirkenden und Mitarbeiter an erster Stelle“.;art213,4929572

  • Karl says:

    I doubt any festival will go on this summer. Social distancing will slow the spread of COVID, but as soon as it is relaxed COVID cases will begin increasing. We are going to have to wait at least a year until a vaccine is developed.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      I bet the Proms will go ahead in one form or another. Even if it is with a reduced programme and audience, and the London orchestras only.

      In parts of Northern Italy perhaps one-third of the population have had the virus. These people now have immunity and locking them down has no effect on the pandemic.

  • Watchman says:

    Hört’, ihr Leut’, und lasst euch sagen,
    die Glock’ hat zehn geschlagen:
    bewahrt das Feuer und auch das Licht,
    dass niemand kein Schad’ geschieht.
    Lobet Gott den Herrn!

    Hear, people, what I say,
    the clock has struck ten;
    guard your fire and also your light
    so that no one comes to harm!
    Praise God the Lord!

  • Hugh Kerr says:

    I expect the Edinburgh Festivals to follow soon maybe even today as I argue in an article in the Edinburgh Music Review ( Hugh Kerr editor

  • Edgar Self says:

    BBC yesterday reported 140 virus cases in the town of Bayreuth, with 40 in hospital.

    My wife’s family nearby in Arzberg say migratory farm workers cannot cross Czech or Polish borders for Nuernberg asparagus harvest, but that’s the least or their worries.

    Her nephew Stephan Ruegamer, tenor with the State Opera, is sheltering in Berlin with a confirmed infection in his apartment building. He’s sung Loki with Barenboim and Gergiev, in Milan, Petersburg, London, and Berlin,but not yet at Bayreuth., although at Salburg in other roles.

    I think poster William Osborne is in Germany and hope he is well. I’ve seen only one post from him recently.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      “migratory farm workers cannot cross Czech or Polish borders for Nurnberg asparagus harvest, but that’s the least or their worries.”

      Er…we will start running out of food if nobody can go into the fields to harvest the crops. Where do you think the food comes from that you eat?

      • Edgar Self says:

        Servus, Saxon! Not nobody, just seasonal foreign workers crossing borders. We can still harvest our own crops and keep our food chain intact without thehelp of guest-workers, the Gastarbeiter, if we can and wish to. Be Unbroken except to the plow! In WWII students went into the fields to harvest crops. I was one of them.

  • BrianB says:

    Regrettable, but let’s remember that the Festival pattern used to be two years on followed by one year off.

  • Merville says:

    What about Salzbourg ?

  • “…its shareholders: the federal republic, the state of Bavaria, the town of Bayreuth and the society of friends.”

    I’ve always wondered who owns this thing since it clearly isn’t the Wagner family anymore. When did this transfer happen?

  • Paul Dawson says:

    In her notorious interview in the Syberberg film, Winifred talked about the cancellations in her time. Ticket holders were refunded, but for the performers it was ‘No play, no pay’.