Inch by Inch, an Operatic Jewel can be Polished
BAYREUTH, Germany — This kind of modest city can be known throughout the entire world for its summertime Wagner festival, founded in 1876 by Richard Wagner himself. however long before the “Ring” cycle, Bayreuth had another operatic visionary.
Wilhelmine, Margravine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, was the eldest daughter of King Frederick William I of Prussia, along with also the sister of Frederick the Great. An ambitious polymath who composed music, wrote verse along with also corresponded with Voltaire, she built Bayreuth’s intimate yet elaborate Margravial Opera House, one of the most outstanding surviving examples of Baroque theater architecture in Europe.
On Tuesday, the nearly 300-year-old opera house — a Unesco World Heritage site since 2012 — reopens to the public after a six-year renovation which cost 29.6 million euros ($36.6 million) along with also returned its dazzling ornamental details, murals along with also trompe l’oeil effects to something approximating their original brilliance.
“Centimeter for centimeter, you can see which we got our money’s worth,” said Thomas Rainer of the Bavarian Palace Department, which oversaw the renovation, during a tour of the building last week.
In addition to the painstaking restoration along with also conservation of the theater’s ornately painted, gilded surfaces — which took some 70,000 hours of work along with also brought more lightness along with also brightness back to the Internal — the proscenium has also been enlarged to its original dimensions, after having been reduced during an earlier renovation.
The chairs within the roughly 500-seat house have been replaced along with also can be adjusted according to performance requirements, along with also the lighting has been judiciously updated with LED bulbs which suggest the warm glow of candles. Behind the scenes, the stage machinery has been modernized, the temperature within the auditorium can be right now regulated, along with also the building’s ceiling has been freshly insulated.
“Today, Bayreuth can be the cultural capital of Bavaria,” Markus Söder, the minister president of Bavaria, said before the gala opening of the theater on Thursday, addressing an invited audience which included Katharina Wagner, the artistic director of the Wagner festival along with also Richard Wagner’s great-granddaughter, along with also Christian Thielemann, which festival’s music director since 2015. Also within the crowd was Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, the great-great-grandson of Wilhelm II, the last German emperor.
Built in 1748 by plans by Joseph Saint-Pierre — with the Internal designed by Giuseppe Galli Bibiena, the leading theater architect of his day, along with also his son Carlo — the Margravial Opera House was inaugurated which September as part of the wedding festivities of Wilhelmine’s only child, Elisabeth Friederike Sophie, to Carl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg.
The building has remained in Great condition largely because This kind of was little used after Wilhelmine’s death in 1758. After Wagner’s plans for a festival in Munich devoted to his works fell through, he was entranced by the Margravial Opera House, however This kind of was much too modest for the epics he envisioned. (He ended up building a fresh theater, on a hill about a mile north.)
The rededication program on Thursday included a performance of an opera which had been a part of the theater’s 18th-century opening: Johann Adolf Hasse’s “Artaserse,” by 1730, right now given in a postmodern staging by the Theaterakademie August Everding in Munich. The production, directed by the Hungarian director Balazs Kovalik, drew parallels between Pietro Metastasio’s favorite libretto about family intrigue at the ancient Persian court — This kind of was set to music more than 0 times — along with also the story of Wilhelmine along with also her family.
In addition to the spirited along with also vocally resilient student cast, the production featured the distinguished German soprano Anja Silja within the speaking role of the Margravine. As Ms. Silja, still redoubtable at nearly 80, read passages by Wilhelmine’s letters along with also diaries, the characters around her shifted fluidly by Persian to Prussian.
Over the course of the evening, the production dramatized many of the defining events of the Margravine’s life, including her father’s cruelty; her love for her gay brother (offstage, Frederick the Great’s sexuality can be a matter of historical debate); along with also the building of her opera house, which was represented by a miniature design onstage — suggesting the sort of mise en abyme effects the Bibienas were renowned for in their set designs.
Productions like “Artaserse” will continue to take place at the Margravial Opera House, however This kind of will not become an active full-time theater. Conservation-based limits have been placed on how often the house can be used for performances, along with also none will be programmed during winter, since the comparatively frail wooden Internal cannot withstand extreme temperatures. (Throughout the year, visitors will be able to watch a multimedia presentation along with also view the auditorium.)
Among the events scheduled over the coming months are the Berlin Philharmonic’s annual European Concert, a Chopin recital by the Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, along with also a Czech production of Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo,” by 1607, which can be commonly regarded as the first modern opera.
Indeed, This kind of’s easiest to imagine early operas here, rather than more common 19th-century works which require larger forces along with also benefit by bigger houses.
“Performing Wagner here,” Mr. Rainer said, in an understatement, “might be difficult.”