A Sheet of Paper as mirror of the soul
Bregenz, 6.4.22. The sheet of paper floats calmly on Lake Constance. Its warped state testifies to long exposure to the elements. The sheet looks frail and delicate, as though it could easily tear. Like the soul of the Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San, called Madame Butterfly. Her moving story will be played out on this stage in just a few weeks’ time in a 26 performance run.
Currently, though, the 23 metre high stage sculpture is still dotted with red and white striped construction site tape. The edges of the individual, white-painted parts, which are up to 17 square metres in size, can still be clearly made out. Today the Bregenz Festival held the preview and “topping-out” ceremony for Madame Butterfly. The Giacomo Puccini opera is being staged at the Bregenz Festival for the first time.
Made of steel, polystyrene foam, wood and facade plaster, the 300 tonne set has been under construction since last autumn. Bregenz Festival technicians have been working together with 33 businesses to create the set. “The particular challenge is to make the piece of paper seem light, almost weightless, as though it was floating on the water, even though it actually weighs about 300 tonnes,” says the technical director Wolfgang Urstadt.
Paper boat at the paper’s edge
The paper sculpture is about 23 metres high and 33 metres wide. It has a total surface area of 1,340 square metres. The sheet will be the central element of the stage set, but not the only one. The promotional image for the festival’s production of Madame Butterfly – a collage of a paper boat, the US flag, a Japanese painting and other motifs – perhaps provides some imaginative hints as to what the lake stage will ultimately look like. What can be seen at present is an outsize paper boat nestling at the edge of the sheet of paper on the side facing Bregenz.
The stage is expected to be fully finished – including scene painting and construction as well as the installation of spotlights and loudspeakers – by June.
A Puccini debut on the lake stage
Madame Butterfly is being performed on the lake stage for the first time. The last opera by the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini that was staged at Bregenz was Turandot, which drew enthusiastic audiences in 2015/16. The tale of the unhappy love of the young Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San, called Butterfly, opens the 76th Bregenz Festival on 20 July 2022.
189,000 seats on 26 evenings
The opera will be directed by Andreas Homoki on a stage designed by Michael Levine with costumes by Antony McDonald. Enrique Mazzola and Yi-Chen Lin will conduct the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Currently about two thitrds of the approx. 189,000 tickets for the 26 performances scheduled this season (including the dress rehearsal and crossculture night) have been booked. Tickets are still available on all dates and in all categories. The final performance will be on the closing day of the festival, 21 August 2022. In all, there are just under 220,000 admission tickets for events at this year’s Bregenz Festival.
The 2022 Bregenz Festival runs from 20 July to 21 August. For tickets and information please visit our website www.bregenzerfestspiele.com/en or call 0043 5574 4076.