festspielhaus.jpgHere’s where I went — the opera house (Festspielhaus) in Bayreuth, Germany designed and built by Richard Wagner exclusively for the performance of his legendary operas.

And here’s why I went: the annual Bayreuth Festspiel performances of Wagner’s operas, a six-week orgy of music, champagne and over-dressed aficionadoes, which invades this handsome little town two hours northeast of Munich every July-August. Lucky enough to score tickets to three of this season’s five operas —Tristan und Isolde, Tannhäuser and Parsifal—I joined a refined herd of Wagnerites from all over the world last week to swelter in Europe’s blazing heat wave and feast at the high altar of Romantic opera.

It was the musical event of a lifetime, and from comments gleaned by longtime Bayreuth patrons, the operas I saw were definitive—especially the Parsifal I had most anticipated. The man next to me in the bespoke tuxedo expertly wielding an antique black fan—himself a veteran of 16 Bayreuth seasons—pronounced this Parsifal the best he’d ever heard. – to be continued