Artistic director Alfred Wopmann's final year brought Leonard Bernstein's hit musical West Side Story to the world's largest floating stage: Bernstein transformed the timeless love story into a new and unique form of musical theatre. In summer 2003, spectators on the Seebühne were fascinated by unforgettable songs such as "Maria", "America" or "Tonight" and a breathtaking choreography. The musical was directed by Francesca Zambello and choreographed by Richard Wherlock. George Tsypin was responsible for the stage design.
At the Festspielhaus, Leo Janacek's opera The Cunning Little Vixen was shown: Similar to Mozart's The Magic Flute, this opera focuses mainly on the natural world and its eternal regenerative cycle. It was directed by Daniel Slater. Robert Innes Hopkin's was responsible for set and costumes.
Kunst aus der Zeit, the festival's contemporary programme series, featured the world premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas's new opera Die schöne Wunde. The Hamburger Thalia Theater visited the festival in the summer of 2003 and presented a premiere for the first time, namely an adaptation of Samuel Backett's Night and Dreams.