AUSTRIAN PREMIERE TO OPEN 73RD FESTIVAL,
CARMEN TO PLAY 28 TIMES ON THE LAKE
Bregenz, 16 November 2017. Bregenz Festival opens next summer for its 73rd season, presenting music theatre, concert, drama and other art forms on a high level to a large public in an incomparable atmosphere and setting on Lake Constance.
Carmen returns to the lake stage for a second season; 19 July is the opening night. In its first run Georges Bizet’s opera was seen by over 193,000 people, more than either of the other two productions of the opera that have been put on at Bregenz since the festival was founded.
The summer festival opens the day before the Carmen premiere with the first performance in Austria of the opera Beatrice Cenci by Berthold Goldschmidt at the Festspielhaus. In addition, a new opera will be premiered at the Workshop Theatre as the finale of the festival, while conductor Karl Böhm is the subject of a new play to be staged at Kornmarkttheater. In April the first Insight session at Kunsthaus Bregenz will allow members of the public to follow the process of creating a new work of music theatre right from the beginning.
“Women in an unfree environment”
This season, four female characters different in type but confronted with similar circumstances draw our interest in four different directions during the festival. There is Carmen on the lake stage, Beatrice Cenci at the Festspielhaus, the title figure in the tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires at the Workshop Theatre, and in the Musik & Poesie section there is an evening devoted to the writer Alfonsina Storni. “These are women in a clearly defined, not truly free environment, women in power relationships which they themselves are unable to break,” says artistic director Elisabeth Sobotka.
Carmen stage set: new online X-ray
The Bregenz Festival website now features an X-ray of the stage set for Carmen, exposing things that are normally hidden from view. The interactive X-ray (“Röntgenblick”) reveals the internal composition, equipment and permanent structures of the stage construction both above and below the water level. There’s also a zoom function allowing you to inspect the various constituent parts of the 24 metre high set from right up close.
200,000 tickets for Carmen in 2018
Success is on the cards for Carmen in its second season. The Bregenz staging with two giant forearms and a flurry of playing cards (59 in all) against the backdrop of Lake Constance remains a magnet for visitors. Eight months before the festival opens for its 73rd season, more than forty per cent of tickets for Carmen in 2018 have already been booked. Directed by Kasper Holten with a stage designed by Es Devlin, the tale of seduction and passion, liberty and destiny had the audience riveted throughout 28 performances last summer; every show was sold out.
About 200,000 tickets are available for the opera on the lake stage in 2018, after a further two performances were added nearly a month ago, bringing the total number up to 28 this year as well. In all, 80 events are on the programme of the 2018 Bregenz Festival, which runs from 18 July to 19 August, with altogether 224,000 tickets available (incl. the dress rehearsal for Carmen and crossculture night).
Festival opening with Beatrice Cenci
Bregenz Festival opens on 18 July 2018 with the Austrian premiere of the opera Beatrice Cenci by the Hamburg-born composer Berthold Goldschmidt (1903-1996). Two further performances will follow. The libretto for the work is an adaptation by Martin Esslin of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s play The Cenci. The high-tension opera about corruption in the church and human violence was composed in the years 1949–1950 but had to wait until 1988 for its premiere (in London). The Bregenz production at the Festspielhaus will be directed by Johannes Erath; Johannes Debus will conduct the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
First opera composition, first opera production
A new opera commissioned by Bregenz Festival will be presented at the Workshop Theatre as a highlight towards the end of next season. The Hunting Gun is the first opera by composer Thomas Larcher. It will be staged by actor and film director Karl Markovics – the first time he has directed an opera. Michael Boder will conduct the Ensemble Modern. The opera is based on a best-selling book by the Japanese author Yasushi Inoue from 1949. The Hunting Gun tells of the loneliness of a huntsman whose gun “presses the whole burden deep into the lonely man’s body and soul”. Thomas Larcher was born in Tyrol and has performed at Bregenz Festival as a pianist several times since 1992. In 2000, a chamber music composition of his was performed at the festival for the first time.
Second cycle of Opera Workshop launched
In spring 2015 the first open session of the Opera Workshop gave the audience an insight into the process of creating a new work of music theatre commissioned by Bregenz Festival. And last summer that work, the opera To the Lighthouse, received its world premiere. Initiated by the festival’s artistic director Elisabeth Sobotka, the Opera Workshop continues with round two in 2018. The composer engaged for it is Alexander Moosbrugger, who comes from Vorarlberg. The first Insight session of this second cycle will be held on 4 April at Kunsthaus Bregenz. The work, which is still without a title, is scheduled to premiere at the festival in summer 2020.
Brigitte Fassbaender to direct at Opera Studio
After completion of the Da Ponte cycle last summer, the Opera Studio will mount a production of The Barber of Seville at the Kornmarkttheater in 2018, the fourth year of the studio’s existence. The opera will be directed by Brigitte Fassbaender. The vocal coach and acclaimed Kammersängerin has instructed the young singers of the Opera Studio in the past three years and in the coming season too she will hold a masterclass that is open to the public. Daniele Squeo will conduct the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra. Gioachino Rossini’s opera premieres on 13 August, with three more performances to follow.
Melancholy, erotic, full-blooded
The tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires, witten by the composer Astor Piazolla, was described by the librettist, Horacio Ferrer, as “powerful, radiant, moving music that combines the different styles of tango [...] and blends milongas, waltzes and rural tunes from the pampas”. Performed at the festival only once previously, in the year 2000, the operita will be staged next year at the Workshop Theatre in a production by Olivier Tambosi. Fifty years after its world premiere the tango opera has lost none of its melancholy, erotic and full-blooded appeal.
Orchestral concerts: big names, big works
Beethoven, Britten, Dvořák, Martinů, Ravel and Strauss – important works by major composers make up the programme of the orchestral concerts by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra’s concert at the Festspielhaus. The final Vienna Symphony Orchestra concert features the first performance in Austria of Alle Tage, a symphony by Thomas Larcher, which will be followed by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, a work that Karl Böhm conducted at Bregenz Festival in 1955. Böhm, a critical appraisal of the great conductor’s life, will be staged at the Kornmarkt as part of the spoken theatre section.
As well as performing in the Opera Studio and in Carmen for Kids, the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra will again give a concert at the Festspielhaus. Two works by Benjamin Britten are on the bill, followed by Symphony No. 2 in D by Beethoven. Britten’s Nocturne will be sung by the highly regarded tenor Mark Padmore, who festival audiences will have the chance to see two days earlier in The Hunting Gun. Padmore will also give a recital as part of Musik & Poesie.
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra Day on 15 July begins at 12 noon and takes place on many stages small and large throughout the old town of Bregenz. Various ensembles made up of members of the festival’s resident orchestra will offer scintillating journeys through different epochs and styles of music.
Karl Böhm as a puppet
He was not a member of the Nazi party, but he is seen as having sympathised with and profited from the Nazi regime. Karl Böhm was one of the leading conductors of the 20th century. Born in Graz, he made a number of appearances at Bregenz Festival from 1948 onwards. In 1980 he conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the opening ceremony of the new Festspielhaus, his last performance of the work, as he died in 1981. Following his Staatsoperette – Die Austrotragödie, director Nikolaus Habjan once again directs our attention to the 1930s and 40s and explores Böhm’s contradictory personality as a puppet on stage at the Kornmarkttheater. The text of the play Böhm has been written by Paulus Hochgatterer, who is known to the festival-going public from the sections Kunst aus der Zeit and Musik & Poesie. Böhm is a guest performance by Schauspielhaus Graz. The world premiere will take place in Graz in March 2018.
Musik & Poesie
The popular Musik & Poesie section of the festival programme consists of three evening events at the Lake Studio. At a concert entitled Exile the Altenberg Trio, already familiar to the Bregenz public, will perform works by composers who fled from the Nazis. “Buenos Aires is a Man” – declares Christiane Boesiger, who, accompanied by two instrumentalists, will offer a portrait of the feminist writer Alfonsina Storni. The Padmore Cycle on the last evening is a recital by star tenor Mark Padmore, accompanied by pianist Andrew West.
Seville Circus at the Festspielhaus, concert at the KUB
crossculture – the programme of events for kids and young people – starts as early as the end of May with “The Circus of Seville”. That will be followed in June and July by the traditional workshops. The highlight, as always, will be crossculture night on the Saturday before the premiere of Carmen, when the lake stage will open its doors only to young people for the final rehearsal of the lakeside opera. In August there will be a wind orchestra matinee concert, Brass Italiano, at the Festspielhaus, with Martin Kerschbaum conducting graduates of wind band camp. The concert at the Kunsthaus Bregenz (KUB) at the end of July meanwhile showcases the composer Berthold Goldschmidt.
Bregenz Festival Chorus: a 70 year partnership
While a choir from Dornbirn performed on the floating stage in the year after the founding of Bregenz Festival, the year 1948 marks the beginning of a partnership that endures to this day: with the Bregenz Festival Chorus, which developed out of the Bregenz men’s choir to include women as well. Just six years later the chorus – already 180 strong – sang in a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Respected artists have served as the chorus master, among them Helmuth Froschauer. Since 2009 Benjamin Lack has conducted the ensemble. Next summer, to mark its 70th anniversary, the Festival Chorus will join forces with the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra under Benjamin Lack to perform Antonin Dvořák’s Mass in D at the parish church of St. Gallus on the Sunday before the festival opens as part of the traditional festival mass.
The 2018 Bregenz Festival runs from 18 July to 19 August. For tickets and information, call 0043 5574 4076 or visit www.bregenzerfestspiele.com.