"Opera and cycling in Würzburg" Top 5 Page for this destination Würzburg by Nemorino

Würzburg Travel Guide: 384 reviews and 1,277 photos

Würzburg and the Main River from Marienberg

Würzburg is a city of 130,000 people, located on the Main River not quite 220 kilometers upstream from Frankfurt. There are fine bicycle paths all along the river, so it's no problem getting here. And if you're in a hurry, there are about thirty-five trains per day in each direction, the fastest being the InterCity and InterCityExpress trains which make the journey from Frankfurt to Würzburg in one hour and eleven minutes.

A few years ago I came to Würzburg to attend the premiere of a new production of the opera Werther by Jules Massenet (1842-1912).

This is a French opera based on a best-selling 18th century German novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who wrote it when he was 25. It is about a young man who is hopelessly in love with someone else's wife, and it is largely autobiographical except that Goethe didn't kill himself like his character Werther did at the end of the book.

Since then, I have seen different productions of Massenet's Werther at the opera houses in Darmstadt, Freiburg in Breisgau, Frankfurt am Main and Brussels.


The later-to-be-famous composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was barely twenty years old in 1833 when he was hired as the chorus director of the Würzburg City Theater for the 1833/1834 season. Aside from his job at the theater, he spent that year writing his first opera, Die Feen, which was not performed at all during his lifetime. The first Würzburg production of Die Feen didn't take place until February 2005.

Wagner himself later disowned his first three operas and decreed that they could not be performed at Bayreuth, which is why the earliest opera shown there is his fourth, Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) from the year 1843.

In September 2002 The Flying Dutchman was staged in Würzburg by Katharina Wagner, the youngest of the composer's great-granddaughters. She was 24 at the time, and she shocked the assembled Wagnerites by putting on a lively and funny show with none of the pathos that has traditionally been associated with Wagner operas. This was her first production as stage director. I didn't see it, unfortunately, but it was generally well reviewed by the critics (unlike some of the other productions she has done since then).

  • Last visit to Würzburg: Jul 2005
  • Intro Updated Aug 11, 2011
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Reviews (19)

Comments (41)

  • Paul2001's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    A very thorough page on this enchanting town. I thought that the Residenz was astonishing myself.

  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
    Jun 15, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    We've decided to top here for one night on our way from Munich to Stutgart in the summer. It looks beautiful. Love the statue lined bridge. Irene

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Jun 15, 2013 at 3:43 AM

      Irene, thanks for having a look at my Würzburg tips. I hope you have a chance to see a bit of Würzburg during your stop there on your way to Stuttgart.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Aug 29, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    Wurzburg sounds like a nice city. The all day transport card is good to know about, and I would love to see the inside of the Church and the Residenz. Beaut page!

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Germany is so beautiful - I love the altarpiece "The coming of the Lord" it is so powerful!

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    After 6 years, I return to see this comprehensive, helpful, and quite interesting page. Looks like some beautiful architecture. I'm impressed that the train has a real dining car!

  • kris-t's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    An other lovely city... Now I miss Europe even more :) . After my first visit to Vienna I was back in two weeks for more Vienna.

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    I am so impressed with Wurzburg. What a wonderful place to explore! Excellent photos and tips Don! Thanks for sharing.

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Nov 29, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    Interesting Würzburg travel page with lots of wonderful architectural buildings especially Residenz and Falkenhaus. Old Bridge and Hofkirche certainly look interesting to visit. ~ho & pang

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    Nov 11, 2009 at 7:02 AM

    Thanks Don, looks a beautiful city with some very nice buildings. Impressed with the inter city train service.

  • german_eagle's Profile Photo
    Sep 18, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    Your comments on the ICE trains are right on. ICE 3 is definitely a step backwards. Excellent page, wondering why I discover it only now. No mention of wine? ;-)

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