The Bayreuth Festival is dedicated exclusively to the operatic works of German composer Richard Wagner. The five-week series of performances begins each year on July 25 in Bayreuth.
The concept of the Bayreuth Festival stemmed from Richard Wagner himself as a performance venue for his largest-scale work, "The Ring of the Nibelung." Wagner (1813-1883) launched the festival in 1876, and only works by him have been staged there ever since: the Ring cycle, "Parsifal" and five other operas. All performances take place in the Bayreuth "Festspielhaus," a theater Wagner specifically designed to create the optimal blend of orchestral and vocal sound required for his works. On opening day, the Bayreuth Festival is a glamorous social event attended by Germany's cultural and political elite. Most of the performances each season are sold out years in advance.
It was a last-minute upset, but not unusual for the Bayreuth Festival. Conductor Andris Nelsons called off his opening night performance and will be replaced by Hartmut Haenchen. Here's a history of Bayreuth drop-outs.