Margravial Opera House

The Margravial Opera House (German: Markgräfliches Opernhaus) is a Baroque opera house in the town of Bayreuth, Germany, built between 1745 and 1750. It is one of Europe's few surviving theatres of the period and has been extensively restored.[1] On 30 June 2012, the opera house was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.[2]

Margravial Opera House
The Margravial Opera House in 2013
Margravial Opera House
Location within Bavaria
Margravial Opera House
Margravial Opera House (Germany)
LocationBayreuth, Bavaria, Germany
Coordinates49°56′40″N 11°34′43″E
TypeOpera house
Official nameMargravial Opera House Bayreuth
CriteriaCultural: (i), (iv)
Inscription2012 (36th Session)
Area0.19 ha (0.47 acres)
Buffer zone4.22 ha (10.4 acres)


It was built according to plans designed by the French architect Joseph Saint-Pierre (ca. 1709 – 1754), court builder of the Hohenzollern margrave Frederick of Brandenburg-Bayreuth and his wife Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia. It was inaugurated on the occasion of the marriage of their daughter Elisabeth Fredericka Sophie with Duke Charles Eugene of Württemberg.

The wooden interior was designed by Giuseppe Galli Bibiena (1696 – 1757)[3] and his son Carlo from Bologna in an Italian Late Baroque style. The box theatre is completely preserved in its original condition, except for the curtain which was taken by Napoleon's troops on their march to the 1812 Russian campaign. The prince box was seldom used by the art-minded margravial couple, who preferred a front-row seat.

Princess Wilhelmine, older sister of the Prussian king Frederick the Great, had established the margravial theatre company in 1737. In the new opera house she participated as a composer of opera works and Singspiele, as well as an actor and director.[4] Today she features in a sound-and-light presentation for tourists. After her death in 1758, performances ceased and the building went into disuse, one reason for its good conservation status.

More than one hundred years later, the stage's great depth of 27 metres (89 ft)[5] attracted the composer Richard Wagner, who in 1872 chose Bayreuth as festival centre and had the Festspielhaus built north of the town. The foundation stone ceremony was held on 22 May, Wagner's birthday, and included a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, directed by the maestro.

Parts of the 1994 biopic Farinelli were filmed in the Opera House. The theatre was the site of the annual Bayreuther Osterfestival until 2009. Each September from the year 2000 to 2009, the theatre also hosted the Bayreuth Baroque festival, with performances of early operatic rarities. The 2009 festival included performances of Andrea Bernasconi's festa teatrale, L'Huomo, to a libretto by the Margravine Wilhelmine.

The theatre closed between October 2012 for extensive refurbishment and redevelopment and reopened April 12, 2018.[5][6][7]


  1. Goldmann, A. J., Inch by Inch, an Operatic Jewel Is Polished, The New York Times, April 16, 2018, photographs by Gordon Welters
  2. "Margravial Opera House Bayreuth". UNESCO. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  3. "Margravial Opera House Bayreuth - World Heritage Site - Pictures, info and travel reports". Retrieved 2017-11-06.
  4. Kotnik, Vlado (6 July 2017). "The Adaptability of Opera: When Different Social Agents Come to Common Ground" (PDF).
  5. "UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe Markgräfliches Opernhaus" [UNESCO World Heritage Site: Margravial Opera House] (in German). City of Bayreuth: Tourism, Culture and Leisure. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  6. Brug, Manuel (2018-04-14). "Bayreuth hat seinen schönsten Kulturtempel zurück". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  7. "Markgräfliches Opernhaus Bayreuth in neuem Glanz wiedereröffnet". Deutsche Welle (in German). 2018-04-12. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
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