Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back from Bayreuth – The Experience of a Lifetime (Part 2)

Last time I gave you a little background on how Bayreuth became Wagner’s town (see Part 1)

It is indeed a lovely town and, like Wagner and his wife Cosima, I fell in love with it, too.  It’s not easy to get to Bayreuth.  All roads to Bayreuth seem to go through Nuremberg.  Even the German opera goers who opted for the train instead of driving had to change trains in Nuremberg. 

We flew from Philadelphia to Paris, had a three (plus) hour layover in De Gaulle Airport, flew to Nuremberg and then took the train to Bayreuth.  While I love traveling by train in Europe, hauling heavy luggage (Remember, I needed four complete formal outfits!!) on and off the train was a nightmare. 

But, finally we arrived in Bayreuth and made our way to the aptly named Hotel Rheingold, where we were greeted very warmly.  Unfortunately, the warmth followed us to our room, which we quickly discovered was not air conditioned even though I had requested an air-conditioned room.  Fortunately, we were able to grab the last available air-conditioned room, which had a small unit over the door that at the touch of a remote blasted cold air.  Believe me, we would not have survived without that little unit.  Bayreuth is very hot in the summer and the un-air-conditioned opera house was an absolute inferno.  More about that later. 

The room was small and bare bones, but the hotel staff was eager and willing to provide us with anything we needed.  Almost every guest at the hotel was there to attend the opera festival, and they catered to our every whim.  I have nothing but wonderful things to say about them and the hotel. 

This Charming Fellow from Sri Lanka Spoke Excellent English and Always Had my Rosé Ready for Me
Every day at 2:00 yummy hors-d’oeuvres, champagne and sparkling rosé were set out for us to enjoy.  It was a great way to mingle and get to know the other festspiele goers.  At 3:00 a large air-conditioned bus took us to the festspielhaus, about 15 minutes away, and picked us up afterwards.  Except for the first opera, which began at 6:00, the rest of the operas began at 4:00. 

The hotel restaurant, which we dubbed Rick’s Place (see Part 1), had excellent food (some German, some continental).  Like most of the hotel guests, we reserved our table for a late dinner ahead of time, and our table would be waiting for us when got off the bus.  After the excruciating heat of the opera house, my husband really looked forward to that cold beer as I did my chilled pink Prosecco.  After the first night, the restaurant staff started bringing our drinks before we even asked for them.  Lovely! 

So, what did I wear?  One of the smartest things I did to get ready for the trip, and I highly recommend this, was to take pictures of each outfit with accompanying accessories.  That way, with the jewelry all packed in my jewelry bag, and since I was usually running short on time and helping my husband get into his studs, cummerbund, bow tie and cuff links, I didn’t even have to think about it.  I just took a quick look at the picture and voilà!  Zip up the dress, add the accessories and I’m ready.

Here is the picture of Outfit No. 1 for the first opera Das Rheingold.  The rose gold bracelet was Mme Mère’s. 

And here is the completed outfit with the addition of a bronze lace wrap, purple snake-skin shoes and a handsome man (i.e., my husband, Dan).  The single strap dress was a light jersey material, perfect for travel.  It’s comfortable, flows beautifully, never wrinkles and is washable.  I would live in this dress if I could. 

Here is the picture of Outfit No. 2 for the second opera Die Walküre.

And here is the completed outfit with the addition of pink strappy mules.  I had to pick my way very carefully along the cobblestones, which are everywhere, in those shoes.  I saw more than a few ladies in high heels get their heels stuck in the cracks between the stones.  You will also notice that I am leaning slightly.  A recurring lower back problem decided to make an encore appearance that morning, probably from that first day of luggage lugging, and I was unable to stand up straight for a few days. 

Although much improved, I’m still dealing with this little souvenir of our trip.  I refer to it as my Bayreuth back.  Those of you who are old enough and who are Wagner aficionados will remember that a few decades back (sorry!) there was something called the “Bayreuth Bark.”  It referred to the nasty habit some basses and baritones had of barking out Wagner’s music instead of singing it in the more beautiful Italian bel canto style, which is how it should be done.  Happily, the Bayreuth Bark, which I don’t miss, appears to have gone the way of literal productions, which I do. 


Here is the picture of Outfit No. 3 for the third opera Siegfried.

And here is the completed outfit.  This tea-length dress is one of my favorites.  It’s light and airy.  I added the belt, which has a bit of sparkle to it that doesn’t really show up in the picture and a pearl comb to my hair.  The dress has a lace bolero jacket in ecru, but that day it was so hot (about 92ºF outside) that I didn’t even bring the wrap.  You’ll notice I’m still leaning forward slightly, so I did opt for more sensible nude patent leather pumps with only a 2 ½” heel in deference to my Bayreuth back. 


Here is the picture of Outfit No. 4 for the fourth and final opera Götterdämmerung.  The gold bracelet is half Swarovski crystals with earrings to match. 

And here is the completed outfit.  I saved my favorite dress for the last night.  The color is actually more of a deep, rusty burgundy.  That fan literally saved my life as we sat baking in the Balcony of the opera house.  I, along with most of the ladies there, spent most of our time vigorously fanning ourselves in an attempt to stir up a breath of air in that stifling heat.  Believe it or not, it did help.  Notice that I’m standing up straight here.  My back was feeling much better that day. 

Well, I’ve got so much more to share with you all that it looks as if we will need a Part 3

In Part 3, I’ll talk just a little bit about the operas and the production and introduce you to some of the lovely people we met.  So, how hot was it in Bayreuth?  You’ll see for yourself in Part 3.

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  1. Oh my I have been where you were and other places in that Country too, including the 'redoubtable' Nuremberg. :-) While there,I saw Albrecht Dürer's home and paintings within. I loved the recounting of what you did, what outfits you wore and the fabulous pictures! Enjoyed it all.

    1. Dear Miss Katie Isabella,

      I'm so glad you were able to relate to that beautiful area of the country. I love Durer's work. It was a truly remarkable trip -- more to come in the next episode. As much as I love traveling, I always love coming home to my beautiful fur babies.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      Cheers, M-T

  2. Dear M-T,
    Love, love, love the photos. I've been anticipating this post so I feel satisfied that you shared as you did.
    Kept scrolling up and down going back and forth with my likes to form a favorite. Although I can find something to say about each outfit, I have cast my vote.
    The first photo is an eye pleaser with Dan standing next to you.
    The pink ensemble is so very feminine and the ruching is lovely.
    The ecru has a spring lightness to it and even being a bit longer; I can imagine a nice swish as you walk.
    The last photo appears to be red, a color I swoon over and those T strap shoes are true dancing shoes!
    Now for the drum roll... my favorite is photo no. 1, that off the shoulder and the bronze sheer wrap around is unusual and the purple is majestic. So it gets my vote. And yes, the inland of Germany is surprisingly humid and not many air conditioners in sight!
    Glad you're back.

    1. Dear Linda,

      I really hate publishing pictures of myself. I'm soooo unphotogenic, but I had promised my readers pictures in my four outfits, sooooo I bit the bullet and did it.

      I was so delighted w/your take on all of them, and I must say that I love your choice. That bronze lace wrap was found in a vintage store and it is absolutely one of my favorite pieces. You'd be amazed what I have paired it with to great effect.

      Always love your comments, my dear friend.

      Thanks again.

      Cheers, M-T

  3. You look absolutely stunning in all of the outfits. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Leslie, for your kind words. I did put great thought into each outfit, and I'm so delighted you liked them. Hope you will make a return visit for Part 3.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  4. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Oh my, you described exactly the way I've felt several times when having to tote heavy luggage (not on wheels in the 80s!) and dressing in formal wear for an International Congress' Banquet... I've strained my back several times and also my arms got sore.
    But you managed to get there and looking fabulous in your selection of outfits. Smart for making photos at home and laying it all out together.
    Love your Mme Mère's bracelet! She must have been smiling from heaven to see her beautiful daughter wearing it.
    Oh, and feeling like melting away I know from such formal events or receptions for some 500-600 people. Europe still has a long way to go for adding good functioning air-conditioning for absorbing the humidity!
    And speaking about medieval cobblestones that don't agree with fine evening pumps... Oh my, tip-toeing your way to your destination is quite an act!
    But you both looked fabulous and isn't it funny that our husbands only have to wear their tuxedo and are done?!
    One of our banquet's at a Château in my province Limburg, we were getting dressed as all of a sudden Pieter's silk velvet cummerbund was there but not his bowtie... I got out of my long gown for searching under the bed, pulling out the mattress but nothing came out. And we had laid it out of the suitcase ready for getting dressed. A mystery. Guess what Pieter did?! He wore his black opal bolo that he bought in Hawaii at a Japanese jewelry store. Already in the bus he got lots of compliments from other male in tuxedo, mostly British, about his dashing bolo tie! He later grinned to me and said: 'See, I'm just a new trend-setter!'
    We always survived and had some good laughs.
    Looking forward to your part III.
    Hugs and happy weekend.

    1. Ma chère Mariette,

      You did a fabulous job of summing up the ups and downs of traveling for formal affairs. My back is still killing me. Could it be that I'm just too old to do this anymore? Gosh, I hope not. I still think I've got a lot of good years left in me (fingers crossed).

      Love the story about Pieter's bowtie. It falls under the category of necessity being the mother of invention. How clever of him to think of that. I have a bowtie story to share with everyone in Part 3.

      As always, love your great comments and always look forward to you stopping by.

      gros bisous, M-T

  5. Hi Marie-Thérèse,

    I have been waiting to see your outfits, and you look spectacular! Such a stylish couple! What fun it is to have special ocassions when you can dress up!

    I will confess that the last time I want overseas, I wear gold and ruby post earrings and a gold watch that I never took off for fear of loosing them. I took one nice dress and wore it everytime I needed to dress up. I had a costume necklass that I was comfortable packing in my suitcase since it had no value. I packed one pair of dress shoes, wear sneakers to travel and walk in, plus flip flops for public pools and beaches. The rest of my clothes were casual basics: shorts, t-shirts, socks, etc.

    What great memories you have of this trip! Bayreuth is so charming. My mother grew up in Germany, and I wonder if she has visited this town. Perhaps not, if getting there takes a bit of effort. But as she used to mind me of in my teenage years, she had a life before I came along. I can't imagine what would make her utter such sentiments. :)

    1. Dear Debra, thanks so much for the kind words about us. We clean up pretty well for a couple of senior citizens.

      Normally, I bring only a few key "dress up" pieces for special events, like you do, when we travel overseas, but this time I had to pull out all the stops, and, looking back, it was definitely worth the effort.

      Ah, yes, life before children. I'll bet your mother has stories to tell. If she does share them, make sure you write them down. That generation lived during some very interesting, turbulent times, especially in Germany where she grew up. You might even consider posting a few. I'd LOVE to read them.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Always love your comments.

      Cheers, M-T

  6. M-T - Beautiful blog!!! I miss you. Patti J.

  7. M-T - Great blog!!! Miss you. Patti J

    1. Miss you, too. How about getting together soon? Best to Jim.

      xoxo, M-T

  8. Such gorgeous outfits that you wore. You looked so elegant and comfortable in them. Our poor men having to wear hot formal jackets and tight bow ties in the heat. It might make choosing what to wear easy but it isn't very flexible for the heat. Good tip about bringing a folding fan, and many bow ties, and perhaps a cushion for those hard seats!

    1. Oddly enough, Melissa, although those sitting in the more expensive orchestra seats were, indeed, sitting on wooden seats that looked like school benches, those of us way up in the balcony actually had some padding on our seats. It really helped.

      As for Dan's formal attire, after the first night he ditched the cummerbund, as he said it was like having a heater around his waist, and by the third night, he took his jacket off during the performances and put it back on for the intermissions and coming and going. Many men did the same, so he didn't feel quite so guilty.

      Cheers, M-T

  9. thank you so much for taking us along with you! I am very impressed that you took such formal outfits with you! Are tuxedos required? You both look amazing, but I pity your poor hubby in that miserable heat! At least you can go sleeveless! So sorry about your back. I know exactly how uncomfortable that is.

    1. I'm delighted to be able to share this amazing experience with someone like you who makes her "life" in the theater.

      We did see some smart business suits on a few men and what we used to call when I was young many moons ago, dressy dinner suits for ladies, on a few of the ladies, but by and large everyone was in formal attire. I think it is more or less expected. Believe me, we knew what we were getting into having lusted after Bayreuth Ring tickets for many years. We did our homework ahead of time.

      Dan did ditch the cummerbund after the first night and after the second night, he took his jacket off during the performances but put it back on during intermissions and travelling to and from the opera house.

      I am so honored to have you as a new reader.

      Warmest regards,


  10. Had to scroll back to get a peek at your adventure of a lifetime. You look beautiful in all your outfits; hard to pick a favorite. I'm embarrassed to admit I know next to nothing about Wagner, except he was supposed to be Hitler's favorite composer, which didn't incline me to listen to him. But what do I know? I do have tickets this fall and winter for a series of concerts at our symphony hall though. I am an ignorant, but appreciative, fan! So happy you got to go on this wonderful trip.

    1. It was indeed quite the experience. Definitely a bucket list item. Wagner is not a composer that shows up on everyone's "Favorite Composers" list, believe me, certainly not on Mme Mère's.

      I do think it's a shame that Wagner gets tarred w/the Nazi brush because Hitler liked his music. Hitler also adored Beethoven, but Beethoven escapes condemnation. Both composers were long gone by the time Hitler came onto the scene.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T


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