German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the illustrious guests who trod the red carpet to the Festspielhaus theatre in Bayreuth on Saturday, at the glittering start to this year's month-long opera festival dedicated to the works of Richard Wagner.
Germany's political and social elite drove up Bayreuth's mythical Green Hill in black limousines for the eagerly-awaited premiere of a new production of "Tristan and Isolde" by the composer's great-granddaughter, Katharina Wagner.
The Bayreuth Festival is one of the highlights in Germany's cultural calendar and Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer have been regular guests for many years.
A long list of government ministers and regional and local politicians from the southern state of Bavaria were also attending.
Tickets for Bayreuth are still among the hardest to come by in the world of opera and classical music, with the waiting list stretching to as many as 13 or 14 years for some productions.
This year marks the 150th anniversary since "Tristan and Isolde" had its world premiere. Katharina Wagner's will be only the 11th production of the work at the Bayreuth Festival.
The Bayreuth Festival runs until August 28 with 30 performances of seven different operas -- "Tristan and Isolde", "Lohengrin", "The Flying Dutchman" and the "Ring" comprising "Rhinegold", "The Valkyrie", "Siegfried" and "Twilight of the Gods".