The Bregenz Festival looks east
Two tragic female tales in Japan and Siberia
Bregenz, 7.7.22. Director Andreas Homoki calls the artists onto the lake stage twice a day. The rehearsals are still being conducted without costumes, the music still comes from a piano. And for the moment there are no projections on the stage, which is shaped like an oversized sheet of paper. But on Saturday the “Japanese tragedy” will be played through fully staged and fully lit for the first time in the final piano rehearsal. Then from Monday the Vienna Symphony Orchestra will join the rehearsals on the lake stage, as piece by piece the production is pieced together like an artistic mosaic.
“Madame Butterfly is grand opera, and in Puccini even a chamber drama is always grand. I’d like to show the relationships between the characters in a believable way, even – or especially – over the big spatial distances of the lake stage,” Andreas Homoki says.
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. In two weeks’ time, after five years of preparation, Madame Butterfly will premiere on the lake stage at Bregenz. It’s the first time the Giacomo Puccini opera has been performed at the festival. The stage set was designed by Michael Levine, the costumes by Antony McDonald. Enrique Mazzola and Yi-Chen Lin conduct the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
189,000 seats on 26 evenings
Currently about 90 percent of the nearly 189,000 seats available for Madame Butterfly have been sold. The lake stage production opens the 76th season of the Bregenz Festival on 20 July and is set to play on 26 nights altogether (including the dress rehearsal and crossculture night). The final performance on 21 August will bring the festival to a close. The total number of seats available for Bregenz Festival events this summer is just under 220,000.
A love that ends tragically – at the Festspielhaus, too
A powerfully emotional opera with big choral scenes and Russian local colour awaits visitors to the Festspielhaus: Siberia by Umberto Giordano. The opera was first staged at La Scala Milan in 1903 instead of the scheduled premiere of Madame Butterfly, which had to be postponed. Siberia premieres at the Festspielhaus on 21 July, with two more performances to follow. It will be directed by Vasily Barkhatov and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valentin Uryupin, who Bregenz audiences will remember from the Opera Studio production of Eugene Onegin.
As in Madame Butterfly the central figure – the courtesan Stephana – is a woman whose love for a man ends tragically. The Russian born stage director has set the story in two worlds, on two narrative levels: in the 1990s an old woman looks back on the events of an earlier time in flashbacks. “The old woman is a character I invented and added to the story in order to bridge the distance between Giordano’s music on the one hand and external historical events on the other.”
Two female central characters on the lake stage and at the Festspielhaus, two pieces of experimental music theatre at the Workshop Theatre, two classic stage plays and for the first time two Opera Studio productions in the same season, not to mention large and small format concerts of the highest calibre: the 2022 Bregenz Festival season offers a rich and varied, five week long programme for more than 200,000 guests.
The 2022 Bregenz Festival runs from 20 July to 21 August. For tickets and information please visit www.bregenzerfestspiele.com or call 0043 5574 4076.