In Berlin, the Staatsoper renovations are running three years late (and counting). In Bayreuth, in anniversary year, Wahnfried is closed for building work and the Festspielhaus is covered in scaffolding. I can also report that, contrary to myth, German trains rarely run on time.
Leave it to Dresden to uphold Germany's reputation for efficiency. The new Wagner museum in the suburb of Graupa opened according to schedule earlier this year, and it's managed to do much with few resources.
The new museum is no scholarly destination. There's next to nothing in the way of manuscripts or personal artifacts (what a shame Bayreuth couldn't lend some from its vast and underexposed archive). Instead the museum focuses on the music, largely by means of interactive exhibits, placing it in biographical context. Children will love pressing the buttons to start up an orchestra, or a diorama of an early production - I bet a lot of adults will too.
The museum building has no associations with Wagner, but just across the road is the farmhouse where he wrote Lohengrin, now catchily renamed the Lohengrinhaus. It's atmospheric enough to compensate for the fact that there isn't much to look at yet (they're hoping for more funding, apparently). The small upstairs rooms rented by Wagner and his first wife Minna have been fitted out with appropriate furniture, so the visitor can imagine the cramped and doubtless chilly conditions under which the composer laboured. Coincidentally, Hans von Bülow was born in the house next door; the event is celebrated with a plaque.
To be honest, there's not a lot to see in either building, so I wouldn't suggest a special trip. It's more of a place to go if you're at a loose end in crappy weather and you've already done the various must-see museums of the Altstadt to death. (By the way, and contrary to rumour, you no longer have to book in advance for the biggest must-see, the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe).
The museum website displays opening hours and prices, but it's short on access details. If you don't have a car, you can plan your journey on public transport using the DVB website. It took me around an hour to get to the museum from the city centre. The half-hourly bus 63 stops right outside (at Tschaikowskiplatz).
If you fancy making a day of it, the 63 makes some other worthwhile stops. From Blasewitz Schillerplatz, you can check out the Blaues Wunder suspension bridge (if you're into suspension bridges) and the swanky late 19th century villas, built when Blasewitz was the grandest address in Europe, and untouched by the WW2 bombing that obliterated the centre. From the next stop, Körnerplatz, a funicular railway is accessible. This seems popular judging by the queues, but I've never tried it myself. For dedicated Weber fans only, Carl Maria von Weber's home, now a small museum, is ten minutes walk from the Van Gogh Strasse stop. It's not signposted, so take a map - and it sometimes closes for events, so check ahead.
For a couple of years there have been no direct flights to Dresden from the UK. But it's just become a lot more accessible with the start of Cityjet's direct flights from City Airport, from £99 return. The outbound flight leaves in the morning, making an opera one-nighter feasible.
Dresden hotels in general are far more reasonably priced than the likes of Paris or Milan, or even Berlin. I stayed in Dresden courtesy of Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski, which is the premier hotel in Dresden and the closest to the opera house. It's surprisingly affordable for a 5-star: rooms start at around £100 if you book well ahead, and everything - service, food, furnishings - was faultless. They even named their restaurant after me:
The signpost in Graupa:
Mystery exhibit downstairs in the Lohengrinhaus: