An audience favorite returns to the lake stage
Stirring music and bloodshed at the Festspielhaus
Bregenz, 6.7.23. An audience favourite returns to the lake stage, a thrilling opera drama unfolds in the Festspielhaus, and a revolution takes centre-stage in the Workshop Theatre. On top of that, big and small as well as unconventional concerts, an opera studio, and spoken theatre are among the events on the wide-ranging and highly varied programme of the 77th Bregenz Festival, for which 215,000 tickets have gone on sale.
The piece of paper floats peacefully on Lake Constance. Its undulating, crumpled surface suggests long exposure to the elements. It looks frail and delicate, as though it could easily tear. Like the soul of the Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San, called Madame Butterfly.
The temptation can be great to continue developing a lake stage production when it returns for its second run, but as director Andreas Homoki explains, in Madame Butterfly practically everything will remain as it was. The recipe for success will not be altered in the production of the Giacomo Puccini opera, which is set to enthral a further 185,000 visitors this summer. The opera was staged at the Bregenz Festival for the first time last year; it proved to be an absolute audience favourite and consistently sold out. The first night of the “Japanese tragedy” on the Bregenz lake stage will be on 20 July.
26 performances of the opera scheduled
Preparations for the lake stage production will reach their conclusion in the coming days. Following the principal piano rehearsal this Saturday,the Vienna Symphony Orchestra will run through a series of five stage and orchestra rehearsals, starting on Monday. These will be followed by the principal orchestral rehearsal in front of a young audience on Young People’s Night, and then the dress rehearsal before the production embarks on its run of 26 performances through the approximately five-week-long festival. The stage for Homoki’s production was designed by Michael Levine, the costumes by Antony McDonald. The conductors are Enrique Mazzola and Yi-Chen Lin.
Madame Butterfly is not only a musically enormously beautiful work and moving in the story it tells, but it’s also a critical work of contemporary relevance, as Andreas Homoki points out. “The opera mercilessly criticises the American and European arrogance towards other cultures. This aspect is a definite part of the production,” the director says.
Tickets are still available
Some 85 percent of the approximately 185,000 tickets on sale for the opera on the lake stage (incl. Young People’s Night and the dress rehearsal) have been booked so far. There are still seats available, particularly for performances in August. Altogether around 215,000 tickets have been issued for the 2023 Bregenz Festival.
Opera at the Festspielhaus: honour, love, murder and revenge in Ernani
At the Festspielhaus, director Lotte de Beer wants to bring to the stage a story about those “imperfect beings called people”. Giuseppe Verdi’s Ernani, a thrilling drama about love and revenge, opens the Bregenz Festival on 19 July. De Beer says the opera has been on her wish list for a long time. At the heart of every character is a glaring contradictoriness: “Everyone talks about honour, love, happiness and friendship, but what they do is to indulge in revenge and spill blood, murder and suicide. A lot of blood is shed.” Verdi, who was only 31 when he composed the opera, is unmatched in his ability to convey such conflicting emotional states in stirring music. “Giuseppe Verdi’s basic idea is fascinating – to create a grotesque psychology of the characters so as to transform it into high-contrast, powerfully emotional music,” says Enrique Mazzola, conductor in residence at the Bregenz Festival and conductor not only of the Festspielhaus production but also of the opera on the lake stage.
The designer of Ernani is Christoph Hetzer, who collaborated with Lotte de Beer and Enrique Mazzola on Moses in Egypt, the opera at the Festspielhaus in 2017. Mazzola will conduct the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
Ernani was Verdi's breakthrough as a composer and became one of his most performed operas in the 19th century. First staged in 1844, the opera was last on the Bregenz Festival playbill in 1987. It will have three performances.
The 2023 Bregenz Festival runs from 19 July to 20 August. For tickets and information, please visit www.bregenzerfestspiele.com or call tel. 0043 5574 4076.