21 August 2006

Bayreuth 7

In some ways Wagner is quite the presence in town, being their main industry, though the presence isn't quite as overwhelming as I thought it might be. Most of the streets are named after characters, real or fictional, involved in his works, and you see the occasional store or restaurant named after characters. For some reason, perhaps in tribute to the many potions, love and otherwise, featured in Wagner, drugstores seem especially fond of doing this, and I've seen ones named for Parsifal and Tannhauser (though not Hagen). The Festspielhaus is a brief walk from my hotel, and I walk up Meisetersingerstrasse and Nibelungenstrasse to get there.
The acoustics of the theater really are amazing. I've never been in any opera house where the voices sounded so clear and projected so well and powerfully. The orchestra stops warming up when the audience starts entering, and they and the conductor are completely hidden in the pit, so first the lights go out and then the music starts welling up as if from nowhere or anywhere. It's an amazing effect and I can't wait to hear how the opening bars of Rheingold sound tonight.

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