From the World Heritage inscription:
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.
During my March 2013 tour of German World Heritage Sites I had two major disappointments, both of which were due to renovations. The first was the Abbey of Lorsch and the second was the Opera House in Bayreuth.
What makes the opera house special is its interior…and that was closed in October and wont be open until May. That means the only thing I was able to see was the exterior. The opera house is going up on my list of sites to revisit and it is probably on the top of that list right now.
If you are in Bayreuth, make sure to also visit the palace of Wilhelmine, the patron of the opera house, which is within easy walking distance. You might also be interested in visting the home of Richard Wagner and his concert hall which he created for his operas.