Prelude to Parsifal
The Festspielhaus at Bayreuth

Tuesday morning came around.  I woke to the sound of church bells and at the window was greeted by the sight of the Festspielhaus bathed in the bright morning sun.  Another gorgeous day in Bayreuth.  As before, breakfast was a lengthy affair, enjoyed outdoors in the company of P13 and some wasps.  Uniformed waitresses catered to our every need, and once we had taken breakfast it was time for lunch.  I loosened my belt a notch.

Sadly, Carol was unable to take advantage of all the glorious free food as she was feeling poorly.  Calls to her doctor in Chicago proved unwieldy and fruitless mainly due to the time difference.  Chicago was 7 hours behind, which meant she couldn't call until 3pm, by which time we would be at the theatre for the 4pm curtain.  I suggested calling a dear friend near Frankfurt who is a doctor.

Bayreuth is a busy town in the daytime, at least during the Wagner Festival.  Cars and buses driven at breakneck speeds come at you from all angles and it is a wise man who waits for a crossing signal.

Most of our walking was done in the "walking street" which is a an old town square out of which runs the narrow Richard Wagner Strasse leading to Wahnfried.  Although it is an implied pedestrian zone, it is also where many bus routes begin and so one keeps an eye over one's shoulder.  Along the sidewalks and spilling onto the cobbles are many restaurants with umbrellas shading the guzzling patrons from the broiling heat, as they tuck into bratwurst and beer or slide their tongues over a cooling ice cream.  Savory smells waft from several little baker's shops. Running off this broad expanse are very narrow shady streets lined with shops, and we returned to the record shop "Die Schallplatte" for another rummage through their impressive wares.  The ladies staffing the store were very friendly and helpful, which is a novelty when buying CDs.  They spoke some English too.

We next ambled and mosied around town a little, stopping in at an old church to gaze upon the interior and enjoy the peace and quiet.  At 2 pm we were back at the record store to see Cheryl Studer, who was there signing photographs, and she was fluently jabbering away in German, with a Michigan accent.  Parsi had a few words with her while my camera was running.

Back at the hotel the good news was that Carol had called Wolf, our doctor friend, and he arranged a prescription for her at the Tannhäuser pharmacy just a block away.  Only a couple of snags along the way.  Firstly, the Tannhäuser closed for a lunch hour and secondly, they had to send out for the medicine and arrange to deliver it later.

Carol waited at the hotel for the drugs while P13 and I drove to the Festspielhaus to book a table for the intermissions, as we wanted to sit outdoors.  The parking is free at the civilised!  One walks past the young female ushers in their blue skirts and starched white shirts, as they sell little pocket programmes for the performance.  These cost one mark, which is roughly 50 cents.

By the box office are people looking for tickets.  This is not always fruitless, for the night before, with 5 minutes to go before curtain on the Dutchman, the ticket office lady offered 4 tickets.  We declined as we had other plans but they were soon happily snapped up.  The audience is rather dressy:  many gentlemen in tuxedos and ladies in spangly off-the-shoulder creations.  All age ranges are present, from young pre-teens to folks who need help walking around the gardens.

With just an hour to go, we took our favored table and I bought some champagne to toast the event and await Carol's arrival.  We chose our eats for each of the intermissions while we waited.  Festspielhaus Blechblaskapelle.

Carol arrived just in time to hear the horns call us to our seats.  She had had a problem getting a place on the hotel jitney and had been fortunate to meet two German brothers, Günter and Herbert, who not only spoke good English but had a BMW 7 series sedan that could travel at Mach II.

Tears formed as I tried to hold the camcorder steady to record the horns playing the Grail theme on the balcony at the front of the house.  Each day I brought the camcorder to the house to record these stellar players who were also responsible for the onstage music in the operas.  After their second appearance I would go into the coat-check to leave my camera in safe hands until after the show.

My watch was telling me that 4pm was coming up fast and so, with a deep breath, I approached the door to row number one, showed my ticket to the usher, and stepped inside the auditorium.

To be continued......

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