One of history's most notorious figures will make his appearance at the Festspielhaus: Roman emperor Nero, as a colourful character in Arrigo Boito's lavish opera. The spectacular self staging of his power contrasts with the pangs of remorse he feels after murdering his mother. Glaring contrasts exist in the sombre rituals practised by pagan magician Simon Magus and the transfiguring purity of emerging Christianity embraced by the prophet Fanuel. Fanuel is loved by Rubria, a vestal virgin who sees herself as a mediator between both creeds. With the assistance of Asteria, who is in love with Nero, Simon Magus conjures up the appearance of the goddess of the night to make the Emperor compliant. However, Nero exposes the illusion, proclaiming the demise of the gods. Placing himself on the altar, he begins to sing. Enjoying adulation as an artist and godly poet, he commands that a huge spectacle begin, even as Rome has already started to burn.
Begun in 1862, Boito strived to complete the piece for several decades, and it became his life's work. Only after his death did conductor Arturo Toscanini create a performable version, whose world premiere was held at La Scala Milan in 1924. Boito's libretti, including those for Giuseppe Verdis's Otello and Falstaff, are some of the most outstanding achievements in operatic history. A leading intellectual in the Scapigliatura artistic movement, Boito also wrote the libretto for Franco Faccio's opera Hamlet, which was performed at the 2016 Bregenz Festival, marking the first time in almost 150 years that it had been performed once again on a European stage.
The directorial team behind this acclaimed rediscovery is now working on a new production of Boito's Nerone: Olivier Tambosi, an ardent enthusiast of Boito, is staging this fascinating, multi-faceted opus in collaboration with set designer Frank Philipp Schlössmann and costume designer Gesine Völlm. Dirk Kaftan, who also made his debut on the Werkstattbühne at the 2016 Bregenz Festival, is acting as musical director.
The 2021 Bregenz Festival runs from 21 July to 22 August 2021. For tickets and details visit www.bregenzerfestspiele.com or call 0043 5574 4076.+43 (0)5574 407-6.
Music director Dirk Kaftan
Stage director Olivier Tambosi
Stage designer Frank Philipp Schlössmann
Costume designer Gesine Völlm
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Vienna Symphony Orchestra