Bayreuth Festival, the House That Wagner Built, Stays on Course but Changes
By MICAELA BARANELLO
BAYREUTH, Germany — Audience members headed to the Bayreuth Festival weren’t happy. The train route from Nuremberg, the principal way to reach this small town in northern Bavaria, was suspended because of construction. They would have to take a bus instead. It would be slow. It would be uncomfortable.
Yet much of the renown of the festival, which runs through Aug. 28, has been rooted in its inaccessibility, in its steadfast resistance to speed and comfort. Founded by Richard Wagner and begun in 1876, to this day directed by his descendants and solely devoted to his work, performed in the theater he designed and built, it packs the elect (sated on festival bratwurst) into notoriously unpadded seats.
Performances begin in the middle of the afternoon, precluding most other activity for the day. Decade-long waits for tickets are not unknown. For its fans, the absorption of Bayreuth — along with the theater’s unparalleled, ethereal acoustic — makes it worth the trip.
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