- A city in Bavaria, Germany, famous for its association withthe composer Richard Wagner (1813 - 83) and as the site of histheater, Das Festspielhaus. Although Bayreuth already possessed amagnificent opera house when Wagner settled there, he was determinedto build a new type of theater capable of presenting his monumentalmusic dramas, particularly the Ring cycle. Its strikingly plaindesign, the work of the architect Gottfried Semper (1803 - 79),broke with tradition in several respects. The fan-shaped auditoriumhad 31 rows of seats on a single slope like a Greek theater; therewere no grand boxes or special seating areas. The stark simplicityproved to be a major influence on later theater design.
Das Festspielhaus was constructed just outside town and openedin 1876 with the complete Ring cycle, presented as part ofthe first Bayreuth Festival. This proved so costly that the theaterdid not present another performance for six years. It closed duringWorld War I, resuming Festival performances in 1924. There was anotherclosure from 1945 until 1951, when the management of the Festivalwas resumed by Wagner's two grandsons.