DW: "Richard Wagner's year in the spotlight"

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 6 January 2013 | 8:33:00 pm

Wagner will be all over music programs in 2013, as this year marks the 200th anniversary of his birth. Travelers in Germany can choose from no shortage of traditional to provocative takes on the composer's work.

Every summer, Bayreuth means sold-out shows, red carpet treatment and appearances by the chancellor herself. But right now, the opera mecca is dead. At a recent guided tour, just two local women and a tourist couple showed up. One of the locals has lived for 30 years in Bayreuth, but this was her first time in the town's famous opera house. The other is guide Claudia Dollinger, who works at Wagner's musical temple. She explains with a touch of pride that she was finally able to snag tickets to the opera fest in 2012.


"To get them, I had to go the official route: waiting ten years," she quipped, adding, "We always say that those of us from Bayreuth get our tickets last."

Bayreuth's ticket dilemma

Wagner fans from around the world apply each year for the event's circa 60,000 tickets, writing in by snail mail or email to make their requests. Applying year after year, prospective guests slowly make their way up the waiting list. The ticket prices range from 8 to 280 euros ($10.60 to $369).

In an effort to reduce the waiting time to just six to eight years, the festival directors give out fewer and fewer fixed packages to organizations and sponsors.

"Last year, around 70 percent of the tickets were available for purchase," said Dollinger.

However, Bayreuth isn't the only place to witness the festival's stars in 2013. Dresden's Semper Opera will present "Lohengrin" under the direction of the renowned Wagner conductor Christian Thielemann.

Richard Wagner's biography - controversies and all - will also take center stage during the anniversary year. One example comes by way of a theater in Rudolstadt, Germany, which is planning a melodrama centering on Wagner's most famous love affair.