Celebrations marking Richard Wagner's 200th birthday, improvised music at the Moers Festival, and theatre at the Sommerblut Festival are some of the cultural highlights taking place in Germany this May.
May 22, 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the German composer Richard Wagner. His operas continue to electrify audiences to this day and the virtuoso will be celebrated in opera houses, theaters and philharmonics across Germany on May 22.
The Richard Wagner Festival in Leipzig, taking place from May 16-26, includes a host of operatic performances, concerts and exhibitions. On the anniversary itself, the Leipzig Opera will be staging "Ring without Words," an integrated version of the most important scenes from Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelungen."
The city of Bayreuth will also, of course, be celebrating the great composer, who was responsible for building Bayreuth's famous Festival Theater in 1872. On May 22, the Festival Theater orchestra will be giving concerts with critically acclaimed soloists.
Richard Wagner will also be honored in a range of cultural institutions across Germany. The Hamburg State Opera will be staging 10 Wagner operas back-to-back over the course of 40 hours.
The foundation stone of the Bayreuth Festival Theater was laid on May 22, 1872 - Wagner's 59th birthday
Improvised sounds in Moers am Niederrhein
An array of oblique sounds will be emanating from the small city of Moers am Niederrhein when the Moers Festival gets underway, from May 17-20.
Avant-garde musicians from a range of cultures will join together at the festival to play a series of outlandish concerts, ranging from jazz to electronic to pop.
This year the focus of the festival is on the work of New York composer John Zorn, who will be bringing his scurrile compositions to the stage on the opening day of the festival.
Works will include "Holy Visions," a mystery play in 11 strophes about the life and works of the medieval healer and revolutionary mystic Hildegard von Bingen, and the piano piece "Illuminations," inspired by a series of poems by the radical French writer Arthur Rimbaud.
Festival of the performing arts in Cologne
Millions of people around the world are on the run - from war, natural catastrophes, economic hardship, or persecution. Some people flee with no known destination, others strive to reach a place they will never arrive at or find themselves unwelcome when they do.
The theme of escape is the springboard for this year's Sommerblut Festival (May 9-26) in Cologne. Over 40 dance and theater performers will be coming together to find artistic expressions for social issues.
This year, performers hope to give audiences insights into the conditions which force people around the world to flee their homes, and what it means to leave everything behind.
As part of the Sommerblut Festival, Swiss theater producer Milo Rau will be staging his piece "Hate Radio," a reconstruction of hate propaganda disseminated by the African broadcaster RTLM before the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
The dance performance, "Open for Everything," by the Argentine choreographer Constanza Macras, will touch on the problems faced by Roma communities in Europe.
And the 18-month research and theater project "Taburopa" is set to explore how taboos are handled in Portugal, Poland, Belgium, and Germany.
Free museum entry around the country
May 12is Mothers' Day in many countries around the world - but this year it's also International Museum Day. Around 2,000 museums in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will be opening their doors free of charge to give the public access to the cultural treasures stored in their collections.
This year, the theme of the festival is the role museums play in illuminating the past, allowing us to better understand current affairs, and thus shape a better future. The main aim of International Museum Day is to grant as many people as possible access to collections, which in turn helps promote and support museum institutions.
One institution taking part is Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin, which is currently showing the exhibition "Censorship and Arbitrariness" dedicated to the work of the painter and photographer Heinrich Zille.
The exhibition explores how Zille was villainized in the early years of the National Socialist dictatorship and later instrumentalized and misappropriated as a "people's artist."
You can't miss them in Berlin, and they dot urban hubs elsewhere, too. Ad columns have helped during war and defied digitalization. Their inventor, who was inspired by public toilets, would've turned 200 on February 11.