The Festspielhaus Baden-Baden is Germany’s largest opera and concert house, with a 2,500 seat capacity.
The building was originally built in 1904 as Baden-Baden central railway station. This building replaced the original railway station which was constructed in 1845 as a part of branchline which connecting Baden-Baden station in the western outskirt and the city center. The building served as a railway station for several decades until the closure of the branchline in 1977.
The new construction was architecturally integrated with the former Baden-Baden railway station - today encompassing the box office, Festspielhaus restaurant “Aida” and Children’s Music World “Toccarion” by the Sigmund Kiener Foundation - and was opened on 18 April 1998. Wilhelm Holzbauer of Vienna was the architect of the new construction. Following initial public start-up funding, the Festspielhaus successfully converted to become the first privately financed European opera and concert company. This had been the original objective.
Since March 2000, the privately managed Festspielhaus Baden-Baden Cultural Foundation has been responsible for operating the non-profit limited company (gGmbH), whilst Andreas Mölich-Zebhauser has held the role of General Manager and Artistic Director since July 1998. It is the only German opera house to have operated successfully without external subsidies since the year 2000. The town and country will reacquire the property from a private investor.
A coterie of approximately 2000 private sponsors - including “Friends of the Festspielhaus”, a 1,500 member registered society – annually support the Festspielhaus programme to the tune of around eight million Euros. About two-thirds of the approximately 20 million Euro budget is financed by ticket sales, gastronomy sales and royalties, with the remaining one-third coming from private donations and sponsorships.
The average annual audience attendance capacity encompassing all the concert, opera and ballet performances is approximately 85% (2013). The Festspielhaus Baden-Baden also operates its own travel agency and organises cultural journeys to Baden-Baden. In a study carried out by the University of St. Gallen in 2008, the conclusion was drawn that the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden generated additional annual income of around 45 million Euros, greatly benefitting the town and surrounding region of Baden-Baden. .