The Bayreuth canon consists of those operas by the German composer Richard Wagner (1813–1883) that have been performed at the Bayreuth Festival.The festival, which is dedicated to the staging of these works, was founded by Wagner in 1876 in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth, and has continued under the directorship of his family since his death. Although it was not originally held annually, it has taken place in July and August every year since the 75th anniversary season in 1951. Its venue is the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which was built for the first festival. Attendance at the festival is often thought of as a pilgrimage made by Wagner aficionados.
Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.
A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. He described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.
The operas in the Bayreuth canon are the last ten of the thirteen that Wagner completed. He rejected the first three – Die Feen , Das Liebesverbot and Rienzi – as apprentice works.Although these have been staged elsewhere and Rienzi was very popular into the early 20th century, the works in the canon exceed them, both in the number of performances given and in the number of available recordings. The term Bayreuth canon is therefore sometimes taken to mean the composer's mature operas. Georg Solti was the first conductor to complete studio recordings of all the works in the canon, starting in 1958 with Das Rheingold and finishing in 1986 with Lohengrin .
Die Feen is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. The German libretto was written by the composer after Carlo Gozzi's La donna serpente. Die Feen was Wagner's first completed opera, but remained unperformed in his lifetime. It has never established itself firmly in the operatic repertory although it receives occasional performances, on stage or in concert, most often in Germany. The opera is available on CD and in a heavily cut, adapted-for-children version, DVD.
Das Liebesverbot, is an early comic opera in two acts by Richard Wagner, with the libretto written by the composer after Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Described as a Große komische Oper, it was composed in early 1836.
Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel of the same name (1835). The title is commonly shortened to Rienzi. Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Königliches Hoftheater, Dresden, on 20 October 1842, and was the composer's first success.
The components of the canon are as follows:
As of the completion of the 2018 [update] festival, 2725 performances have been given at the Bayreuth Festival of the operas in the canon, distributed as in the following table.
|symbol and colour||meaning|
|‡||Introduced by Richard Wagner|
|*||Introduced by Cosima Wagner|
|Opera||Completed||Première||Bayreuth première||Most recent Bayreuth season|
(to 2018 [update] )
|Total Bayreuth performances|
(to 2018 [update] )
|Siegfried†||16 August 1876||16 August 1876‡|
(The Twilight of the Gods)
|17 August 1876||17 August 1876‡|
|26 July 1882||26 July 1882‡|
(Tristan and Isolde)
(The Mastersingers of Nuremberg)
(The Flying Dutchman)
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.
Parsifal is an opera in three acts by German composer Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a 13th-century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival (Percival) and his quest for the Holy Grail.
The Bayreuth Festspielhaus or Bayreuth Festival Theatre is an opera house north of Bayreuth, Germany, built by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner and dedicated solely to the performance of his stage works. It is the venue for the annual Bayreuth Festival, for which it was specifically conceived and built. Its official name is Richard-Wagner-Festspielhaus.
The Bayreuth Festival is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of operas by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner are presented. Wagner himself conceived and promoted the idea of a special festival to showcase his own works, in particular his monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal.
Cosima Wagner was the illegitimate daughter of the Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt and Marie d'Agoult. She became the second wife of the German composer Richard Wagner, and with him founded the Bayreuth Festival as a showcase for his stage works; after his death she devoted the rest of her life to the promotion of his music and philosophy. Commentators have recognised Cosima as the principal inspiration for Wagner's later works, particularly Parsifal.
The Bayreuth Circle was a name originally applied by some writers to devotees of Richard Wagner's music who attended and supported the annual Bayreuth Festival in the later 19th and early twentieth centuries. As some of these devotees espoused nationalistic German politics, and some of them were supporters of Adolf Hitler from the 1920s onwards, this group of people has been associated by some writers with the rise of Nazism.
Theo Adam was a German operatic bass-baritone and bass singer who had an international career in opera, concert and recital from 1949. He was a member of the Staatsoper Dresden for his entire career, and sang at the Bayreuth Festival from 1952 to 1980. He particularly excelled in portraying roles by Richard Wagner, especially Wotan in Der Ring des Nibelungen, which he also performed at the Metropolitan Opera, among others. In concert, he was a much admired Bach singer and also drew acclaim for his interpretation of the title character of Mendelssohn's Elijah. He was a voice teacher at the Musikhochschule Dresden.
Emil Scaria was an Austrian bass-baritone. Born in Graz, he studied at the conservatory in Vienna before making his debut in Pest in 1860; he sang the role of St. Bris in Les Huguenots. He was a failure, and abandoned the stage entirely in favor of further study; he selected Manuel García as his new teacher. Though he returned to the stage in Dessau, he did not see success until he sang at the Crystal Palace in London in 1862. In 1863 he appeared with the Leipzig Opera; in 1864 he was working in Dresden. He was engaged by the Vienna State Opera in 1872. In 1882 he created the role of Gurnemanz in Parsifal for Richard Wagner at Bayreuth. Scaria died in Blasewitz, in Germany, in 1886.
Bernd Weikl is an Austrian operatic baritone, particularly known for his performances in the stage works by Richard Wagner. He also has written books and directed operas.
Bernd Aldenhoff was a German Heldentenor.
Hans Hopf was a German operatic tenor, one of the leading heldentenors of the immediate postwar period. He sang Walther von Stolzing in the Bayreuth Festival's Die Meistersinger, in 1951 and again in 1952. He would also sing Siegfried at Bayreuth from 1960–1963.
Christopher Ventris, born 1965, in London, is a British tenor. He is particularly known for his role as Parsifal which he performed at the Bayreuth Festival during the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Festival seasons.
Janis Martin was an American opera singer who sang leading roles first as a mezzo-soprano and later as a soprano in opera houses throughout Europe and the United States. She was particularly known for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and sang at the Bayreuth Festival from 1968 to 1997.
Fritz Hübner was a German operatic bass. Active from the late 1950s through the 1980s, he was particularly known for his performances in operas by Richard Wagner.
Gerd Nienstedt was a German and Austrian opera singer, bass and bass-baritone. After an international career at major opera houses and the Bayreuth Festival, he was also a theatre director, stage director and academic voice teacher.
Carrie Pringle was an Austrian-born British soprano singer. She performed the role of one of the Flowermaidens in the 1882 premiere of Richard Wagner's Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival. Unproven rumours associate Wagner's supposed infatuation with Pringle with the circumstances of his death in Venice in 1883.
Evelyn Herlitzius is a German opera singer, a dramatic soprano. She is known for performing major roles in works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, such as Brünnhilde, Isolde and Elektra, at the Semperoper, the Bayreuth Festival and leading European opera houses.
Gerd Brenneis was a German operatic tenor who had an active international career from the late 1950s through the 1990s. Known for his interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner, he worked as a principal artist at many of the world's great opera houses, including the Deutsche Oper Berlin, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Vienna State Opera.
Gerd Grochowski was a German operatic bass-baritone who had an active international career from 1986 until his death in 2017. Particularly known for his performances in the operas of Richard Wagner, his roles included Donner in Das Rheingold, Gunther in Götterdämmerung, Klingsor in Parsifal, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, Telramund in Lohengrin, and Wotan in The Ring Cycle. A graduate of the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, he was a longtime resident artist at the Cologne Opera. He appeared in leading roles as a guest artist at the Bayreuth Festival, the Berlin State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera, the Frankfurt Opera, the Hamburg State Opera, La Scala, the Liceu, the Linz State Theatre, the Stuttgart Opera, the Teatro Real, the Theater an der Wien, and the Salzburg Festival.
Isolde Beidler was the third of the five stepchildren and children of the composer Richard Wagner and his wife, who is generally known as Cosima Wagner. Isolde herself married the Swiss-born conductor Franz Beidler (1872-1930) and was the mother of author Franz Wilhelm Beidler (1901-1981), celebrated at his birth as "Richard Wagner's first grandchild".