1 April 2009 by Pete Mathers
Bregenz, Austria 22 July–23 August 2009
Every year in the summer months of July and August, more than 200,000 opera lovers throng to Lake Constance to enjoy musical theatre on the world’s largest floating outdoor stage. Yes, Bregenz is an opera festival with a difference. In addition to a traditional opera house (the Festspielhaus), an open-air floating stage ensures productions are given in the most spectacular fashion.
An outdoor stage requires different techniques (as there is, for example, no curtain to cover changes of scene), and the festival is renowned for its imaginative solutions. British director Richard Jones created a huge page-turning skeleton for Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball), and giant postcards of Paris for his production of Puccini’s La Bohème.
Verdi’s monumental opera Aida is to receive its first ever performance on the Bregenz floating stage this summer. The story of the tragic love between the Ethiopian princess Aida – once brought to the Nile as a slave – and the Egyptian commander Radames has been enthralling audiences since its premiere in Cairo in 1871. Its debut in Bregenz, performed beneath the stars over mild summer evenings, is one of the most anticipated events in the operatic calendar.