Committee Decisions

36 COM 8B.30

Cultural Properties - Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (Germany)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Documents WHC-12/36.COM/8B and WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B1,

2.   Inscribes the Margravial Opera House Bayreuth, Germany, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (i) and (iv);

3.   Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

The 18th century Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth is a masterwork of Baroque theatre architecture, commissioned by Margravine Wilhelmine of Brandenburg as a venue for opera seria over which the princely couple ceremonially presided. The bell-shaped auditorium of tiered loges built of wood and lined with decoratively painted canvas was designed by the then leading European theatre architect Giuseppe Galli Bibiena.

The sandstone façade designed by court architect Joseph Saint Pierre provides a focal point within the urban public space that was particularly planned for the building. As an independent court opera house rather than part of a palace complex, it marks a key point in opera house design, foreshadowing the large public theatres of the 19th century. Today it survives as the only entirely preserved example of court opera house architecture where Baroque court opera culture and acoustics can be authentically experienced. The attributes carrying Outstanding Universal Value are its location in the original 18th century public urban space; the 18th century Baroque façade; the original 18th century roof structure spanning 25 metres; the internal layout and design of the ceremonial foyer, tiered loge theatre and stage area including all existing original materials and decoration.

Criterion (i): The Margravial Opera House is a masterwork of Baroque court theatre architecture by Giuseppe Galli Bibiena in terms of its tiered loge form and acoustic, decorative and iconological properties.

Criterion (iv): The Margravial Opera House is an outstanding example of a Baroque court theatre. It marks a specific point in the development of opera houses, being a court opera house located not within a palace but as an urban element in the public space, foreshadowing the great public opera houses of the 19th century.

Integrity

The elements necessary to express outstanding universal value are included within the property as one sole building and are intact and in good condition. No adverse effects are expected to occur and an overall conservation and restoration plan has been approved by the State Party.

Authenticity

Most of the building and the decorative programme of the loge theatre remain unchanged. Adaptations were due to regulations for fire safety in public buildings and requirements in line with the contemporary use of theatres. The highly unified Baroque work can still be appreciated. The survival of the interior materials of wood and canvas enable the opera house’s original acoustic quality to still be appreciated, and testifies to the authenticity of the property as an 18th century opera house.

Protection and management requirements

The property is protected at State level by the Bavarian Law for the Protection and Preservation of Monuments (1973, 2007). It is also protected by inclusion on the List of Monuments of Bayreuth under the Bayreuth City Civic Statutes and Ordinances. The buffer zone has been agreed and established with local authorities and its historic buildings are included in the Bayreuth Monuments List.

The Management authority is the Bavarian Palaces Department. Implementation of the Management Plan is guaranteed by a steering group including the Bavarian Palaces Department; the City of Bayreuth; the Upper Franconia regional government; the Bavarian State Ministry for Science, Research and Arts; the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments and Historic Buildings, and ICOMOS Germany. As a result of research, experience and consultations the impact of visitors and events has been regulated by the Bavarian Department of Palaces. Effective measures have been established to control the number of visitors and frequency of events which will be exclusively limited to the summer period after the restoration program is concluded. 

4.   Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:

a)   Ensuring that all interventions planned are done according to the abundant documentation and research in the hands of Bavarian authorities and valid conservation principles, under strict supervision by the correspondent technical bodies,

b)   Including a Risk Preparedness Plan and a Visitor Management Plan as such within the existing Management Plan,

c)   Explicitly establishing the direct relation of key indicators to attributes and potential threats and clarify the periodicity of monitoring reporting to the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts of Bavarian State. 

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List, Outstanding Universal Value
States Parties: Germany
Session: 36COM