Last week I had the amazing experience of seeing in person the set for the 2012 Bregenz Festival (Bregenz, Austria). Also last week, I had the experience of discovering the Bregenz Festival itself. Since 1946, a festival of opera and drama has been held every July / August at an open-air theatre called the Seebuhne: the “floating stage.” The 7,000 seats are on land. The set, redesigned for each new production, rises out of Lake Constance.
Here are a couple of past sets:
And back to the 2011-2012 set.
This year’s production opens July 19, so I didn’t see the show—but the theatre was open to the public. Crew were working at the boards and on the lighting rigs, while tourists and cyclists on their way around the lake stood and pointed and stared.
This year’s production is the opera Andre Chenier (music by Umberto Giordano; libretto by Luigi Illica), a story of the French Revolution. The set is modeled on the painting The Death of Marat—a historical French Revolution figure who was murdered in his bathtub (clever).
Here you can see more of the specifics about the opera itself, and some photos. It’s hard to capture the enormity and impressiveness of the stage. Lake Constance sits at the foot of the Alps (that’s what the figure of the stage would be looking at) and is 39 miles across. The scenery is stunning, even before you notice there’s a head emerging from the water. (Trivia: Wikipedia mentions that the Seebuhne was used for filming the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace during a production of Tosca.)
I couldn’t help thinking of my theater friends who would probably love this even more than I did! If you’re in Bregenz later this summer, see the production; but if you’re there at the off-times, enjoy a good imaginative wander.