Bayreuth (dpa) – The Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth has a truly extraordinary start: at the start of the festival on Sunday 25 July, a woman will be held at the conductor’s office in Bayreuth for the first time in 145 years of history festivals.

Oksana Lyniv, 43, conducts the opera “The Flying Dutchman”. The fact that she does not do so in front of the traditionally full venue is due to Corona restrictions: only 911 people are allowed to attend – otherwise it will be around 2000. Only those who have tested negative, fully vaccinated or cured are allowed to attend. enter the world famous opera house. In addition, the following applies: FFP2 mask requirement.

The festival choir, as famous as it is numerous, will not be on stage either. Its contributions are made. The reception of the first guests in front of the Festspielhaus and the State reception at the New Palace were also canceled. Instead, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) will welcome participants to the festival grounds after the premiere.

Angela Merkel comes to the festival

At the end of her mandate, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) comes to Bayreuth: she is one of the first guests on Sunday, as announced by the city of Bayreuth. Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer are big fans of Wagner’s work and have been regulars at Green Hill for many years.

Last year the festival was completely canceled due to the pandemic. According to her own statements, artistic director Katharina Wagner had no doubts that the opera performance could take place this year, as she had told the German news agency: The biggest challenge nonetheless was “not to lose courage and do everything possible for this so that the festival is possible again this year ”.

For the Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU), the Bayreuth Festival is sending a special signal to culture in Germany this year. The festival is “a sign of hope for artists, simply because music and theater can once again take place live and in front of an audience,” Grütters said in a statement on Friday.

The corona crisis as a cultural crisis

“We must and want to continue to support the cultural scene with aid measures from the federal and state governments so that they can make their valuable contribution to our community,” said Grütters.

Due to the corona pandemic, many cultural workers were barely able to work or only to a very limited extent. The Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth was also completely canceled last year – and with it the planned new production of Richard Wagner’s “Ring des Nibelungen” in four parts.

The project has been postponed until 2022 due to Corona. As a replacement, this year there will be a project for each of the four “Ring” operas. This year’s program also includes “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” in the production of “Tannhäuser” by Barrie Kosky and Tobias Kratzer. Andris Nelsons and Christian Thielemann will conduct concerts at the Festspielhaus. The festival ends on August 25.