Wiesbaden, the capital of Hessen and one of Germany's finest cities, is nothing less than a global showcase for the world's theatres and orchestras. Here's it's about striving for perfection and for the ultimate in music-making, bringing together high culture, great art and discerning audiences.
The first regular visitor set the aristocratic tone a very long time ago. That was Kaiser Wilhelm II, who attended the dazzling inaugural festival, held from 6 to 19 May 1896, and had 'festival by highest command' printed on the posters and programmes. Since then the programme has been graced by an endless list of magnificent performances including Richard Strauss's opera The Egyptian Helena conducted by the composer himself in 1929. After 1950 the May Festival acquired an increasingly international dimension. Companies such as the Vienna State Opera, the Opera of Rome and the Opéra National de Paris came as guests, as did Warsaw Opera, the Leningrad Kirov theatre, the Moscow Bolshoi ballet and representatives of the USA, the Netherlands, Israel, Spain and many other countries. This international outlook remains the same today and the festival has also spread its cultural wings to embrace readings, lieder evenings, electronic music, comedy, a young audiences week and a film programme. As with everything that happens in Wiesbaden, excellence is what this festival values most.
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