The Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth: Germany’s historic culture of music

Today, my search for Germany’s hidden gems has led me to Bayreuth. This little town in Upper Franconia might be little, but it packs colossal clout in one specific respect: its opera houses. For one thing, its Festival Theatre is the venue for the annual Richard Wagner Festival. Besides that, it's also home to the Margravial Opera House, which I’d love to take a closer look at while I’m here. This Baroque building has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012 – reason enough for a special trip. And I won't be going it alone: Angela Danner, from Bayreuth, is a member of a living history society and has agreed to give me an insight into this magical place.

A stirring tale of music

Angela Danner greets me in character. Dressed in the style of sumptuous clothing that would have been worn on festive occasions over 250 years ago, she leads me through the striking building, explaining, “This opera house was built in 1748 for the marriage of the daughter of the Margraves, Elisabeth Friederike Sophie von Brandenburg-Bayreuth, and the Carl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg. The works of art and state of preservation here make the Margravial Opera House one of the most important theatre buildings to have been built prior to the French Revolution.” I can see exactly what she means: from outside to inside, the building is a shining example of Italian architecture of the late Baroque. “Incidentally,” says Angela, “the really special thing about this building is its roof structure.” She continues, “The roof has a 25-metre-span, without any columns to support it. At that time, this span went to the very limits of what construction engineering could achieve.” I marvel at the ingenuity of those early engineers, but am soon distracted by the sheer profusion of decorative elements and the incredible attention to detail.

“The Margravial Opera House is one of the most important buildings to have been constructed before the French Revolution.”

– living history performer Angela Danner

Germany, land of opera houses

Did you know that around a third of the world’s opera performances take place in Germany? With over 80 opera houses, there’s certainly plenty to discover here. Germany's first opera house opened in 1657 in Munich. Since then, millions of visitors from all over the world have been enchanted by the magic of the big stage. When will you discover Germany’s opera tradition?

Discover Germany’s unique atmosphere!

Countless castles, architectural highlights and romantic little historic quarters: discover Germany's treasure trove of wonders.