Bregenz Festival opens for 70th season

Evening premiere of "Turandot"

Bregenz, 22.7.15. On Wednesday morning the 70th season of the Bregenz Festival was officially opened by the Austrian President Heinz Fischer at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the Festspielhaus. In speeches delivered to around 2,000 guests Fischer, Minister of Culture Josef Ostermayer and president of the festival Hans-Peter Metzler spoke of peace, solidarity, freedom and human dignity. Fischer urged that refugees coming to the country should be accorded their share of human dignity. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra joined other festival artists in giving a musical preview of the coming season – comprising approx. 80 events and the first season under Elisabeth Sobotka as artistic director.

In his twelfth and last opening speech at the Bregenz Festival, the federal president emphasised the founding principles of the festival, which was established soon after the Second World War. At the core of every festival there must be "a principle or a moral concern", he said. While Austria as a country was the leitmotif in Salzburg in 1920, in Bregenz immediately after the war it was "the idea of freedom and peace and human dignity". And one should not lose sight of this founding principle, he said.

The Austrian president congratulated the Bregenz Festival on how it had developed since its inception in 1946. "Who could have imagined in those days that the Bregenz Festival would be named the best festival in the world in 2015?", Fischer asked, before continuing: "And yet it was." Reflecting on the secrets of success for festivals in general, the federal president named some pairs of opposites, like the combination of an "international orientation with local strengths and specialities". The "wonderful landscape" was a factor in the success of the Bregenz Festival, Fischer said – as well as the artistic directorship, of course, which must know how to bring about the step change from "good" to "excellent".

The armed hostilities of the 19th and 20th century were also the starting point in the speech given by Culture Minister Josef Ostermayer. "Art and culture have helped us to emerge from the shadow of National Socialism and the darkness of 19th and 20th century nationalism and into a new phase European cooperation," the minister said, linking up with the European Union of the present day. He said he was convinced that in the next few years art and culture would be no less important than they had been in the past. Art, Ostermayer said, is a "spotlight that allows us to make out what's right and what's wrong; what's a human imperative and what's inhuman and cynical".

Europe, Ostermayer went on to say, has learnt from the past over the decades, doing so through a fundamental commitment to collaboration, compromise and solidarity. Use of the phrase übersolidarisch – meaning "too much solidarity" – in recent days (by foreign minister Sebastian Kurz of the Austrian People's Party, ÖVP – ed.) had made him thoughtful and also concerned. The term suggests there could be "too much togetherness, though there can in fact never be too much solidarity in any society and therefore in ours too," the minister stressed. Solidarity is the basic principle of human coexistence and mutual aid. It was in this spirit that Europe was rebuilt after the war, he said.

The president of the festival, Hans-Peter Metzler, reminded the audience that the Bregenz Festival had only been possible in the first place because the occupying power of the time, France, had regarded Austria as a "friendly nation". "The occupying power supported, no, it promoted the democratic, economic and cultural reconstruction in a deliberate way," Metzler stressed.

In his view, the leading themes of the Bregenz Festival are "openness, tolerance and furtherance". And this year, too, one would try to do justice to these principles in a responsible way, and not just in the subjects dealt with in the festival's productions. Art always takes centre stage, Metzler said. He also welcomed Elisabeth Sobotka to her first Bregenz Festival opening ceremony as artistic director, describing the former head of Graz Oper as the "solution" and an "enrichment from the east". Fischer and Ostermayer likewise wished her luck and every success.

This evening sees the premiere of Giacomo Puccini's Turandot on the Bregenz Festival lake stage. Tomorrow, Thursday, the curtain goes up on The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach at the Festspielhaus. For this year's opera on the lake stage almost 90 per cent of the available 179,000 tickets have already been booked.

The latest film material and photos The latest film material and photos of Turandot and this year's Festspielhaus production The Tales of Hoffmann are already available for download in the Press Foyer of the Bregenz Festival website. For information and conditions relating to their use, please follow this link:

Here you find more pictures.

Festspielfussball Turnier 2010 Gruppenbil
Die teilnehmenden Mannschaften beim Festspielfussball Turnier 2010