The town of Bayreuth in Bavaria is synonymous with Richard Wagner and since 1876 its annual festival, which opens next Sunday, has been devoted to the performance of
The Wagner family is still deeply involved: the composer's grandson Wolfgang, now 84, is artistic director. The tribulations of the festival and the Wagner family, its compromised Nazi past and the uncertainties about its future, have made it the leading cultural soap opera of post-war Germany. Only last month a crisis over a new production of Parsifal made headlines across Europe.
For devotees - the depth and power of his music can inspire near- obsession among some - a visit to this shrine is essential. Unfortunately, although tickets are comparatively cheap - top price EUR192.50 (pounds 130) this year - they are extremely hard to obtain.
The first thing to do is to get a booking form, not later than the middle of September, from the following address: Bayreuther Festspiele Kartenburo Postfach 10 02 62 D-95402 Bayreuth Germany. You must complete and return it before the closing date (usually mid- October). You won't get tickets, but you will get a "negative" registered in the box office computer. You must repeat this process each year until you have enough "negatives" to qualify for tickets. The current waiting list seems to be about eight years. The …