270,000 visitors expected by Monday
EXIT CARMEN, ENTER RIGOLETTO
Bregenz, 17 Aug. 18. With the 29th performance of the opera on the lake stage this coming Monday, not only will Carmen's fate be definitively sealed, but also Bregenz Festival will come to an end after a nearly five-week season comprising over 80 highly varied events. The festival has attracted a provisional total of just under 270,000 visitors this summer, more than in any other year.
This year's season – the 73rd – began back in May with Carmen For Kids, when more than 3,000 school pupils in the Great Hall of the Festspielhaus got involved themselves in making a kids' version of the opera, which ran for three performances and played to a nearly packed house.
Carmen in top three best attended productions
The enthusiasm of the little opera fans in the Festspielhaus was fully matched by that of the grown-ups who saw the lake stage production directed by Kasper Holten and designed by Es Devlin. Georges Bizet's Carmen will have been seen by nearly 400,000 visitors by the close of this second season in a total of 57 performances. Already 100 percent of the tickets have been sold. If all four remaining performances go ahead in the open air without transferring indoors, then the number of people that have seen the opera on the lake stage this year will be nearly 206,000 – more than ever before (including the dress rehearsal and crossculture night).
So far this season there has only been one cancellation due to rain. This year, for the second time since the festival was founded in 1946, 29 performances of the open-air opera were on the programme. Only the productions of The Magic Flute in 2013 & 2014 and West Side Story in 2003 & 2004 were seen by more people.
Next year's Bregenz Festival runs from 17 July to 18 August 2019. The opera on the lake stage will be Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto. Tickets for the 25 performances go on sale on Monday evening at www.bregenzerfestspiele.com (not including premieres, Festival Lounge tickets and Premium tickets).
Festival opens with Austrian premiere
This summer's festival opened with the first performance in Austria of the opera Beatrice Cenci by composer Berthold Goldschmidt. Directed by Johannes Erath, the Festspielhaus production of the opera – which dramatises a true story of church corruption and human violence – played on three evenings and was seen by 4,135 people, representing 89 percent of capacity.
The Hunting Gun: "daring and successful"
Virtually six years in the making, a new piece of music theatre received its world premiere performance last Wednesday – The Hunting Gun, commissioned by Bregenz Festival. The last two performances of the work can be seen at the Workshop Theatre today and tomorrow. "Daring and successful" was one of the first reviews of the new work, which is based on the novella by Japanese author Yasushi Inoue. The opera by the Austrian composer Thomas Larcher and staged by Karl Markovics is all but sold out, and has been seen by 1,096 visitors so far. A few tickets are still available.
Artistic variety at the Kornmarkttheater
There were standing ovations last Monday after the premiere of The Barber of Seville at the Kornmarkttheater in Bregenz, venue for the fourth year running of the Opera Studio established by artistic director Elisabeth Sobotka in summer 2015. Brigitte Fassbaender's production of the comic opera will have attracted a total audience of 1,974 come the final performance on Saturday; 100 percent of the tickets have been sold. The celebrated kammersängerin once again gave coaching to the young singers of the Opera Studio at a masterclass in Bregenz.
Also at the Kornmarkttheater, a few days after the festival opened, director and puppet maker Nikolaus Habjan shed light upon the contradictory personality of legendary conductor Karl Böhm, who was represented on stage by a puppet, along with virtually all other characters. The show – a guest performance by Schauspielhauses Graz – played to 97 percent capacity and was seen by 938 people.
Matinee concert on Sunday: Tickets available
At the Workshop Theatre there was a revival of María de Buenos Aires. The tango operita was sold out on both evenings with a total audience of 780. The three traditional concerts by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra together with the remaining matinee concert by the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra (SOV) this Sunday will have an anticipated 5,733 visitors in total, corresponding to 92 percent capacity. Tickets are still available to the SOV matinee, the final concert with Gérard Korsten as chief conductor of the Vorarlberg orchestra. The two events in the Musik & Poesie series (instead of the three originally planned) drew a combined audience of 453.
In early April, the first Insight session in a new Opera Workshop offered an opportunity for the general public to follow the creation of a work of music theatre with composer Alexander Moosbrugger and other key players involved in the project. The as yet untitled work will be premiered at the festival in 2020. Visitors to the Insight session in Kunsthaus Bregenz numbered 120.
Exit Carmen, enter Rigoletto
On Tuesday, festival technicians and construction firms will begin dismantling the stage set for Carmen, which towers up to 24 metres high, to make way for the Rigoletto stage. Giuseppe Verdi's opera with the famous aria "La donna è mobile" is to be staged at Bregenz for the first time in summer 2019 and 2020. At present, 25 performances are scheduled for the lake stage opera. Online booking for next year's festival opens on Monday evening, the final day of this season (not including premieres, Festival Lounge tickets and Premium tickets).
The director of the Bregenz Rigoletto will be Philipp Stölzl, who will also design the stage set. Stölzl, who was born in Munich in 1967 and studied stage design, made a name for himself as the director of music videos, for Madonna among other acts, before going on to make a series of acclaimed films like North Face, Goethe! and The Physician. As an opera director he has worked at the Salzburg Festival, Theater an der Wien, at Deutsche Oper and the Staatsoper in Berlin.
2019 at the Festspielhaus: Don Quichotte
In summer 2019, Bregenz Festival will stage Jules Massenet's opera Don Quichotte at the Festspielhaus. The comédie héroïque was first performed in 1910 in Monte Carlo. At Bregenz the first night will be on 18 July 2019 and the opera will receive two further performances. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Antonino Fogliani, who was music director of Carmen at this year's festival. Stage director Mariame Clément will be making her debut at Bregenz.
Looking ahead to 2021 and 2022
In summer 2021 and 2022, the opera on the lake stage will be Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. First performed in 1904 at La Scala Milan, the opera is being produced at Bregenz Festival for the first time. It will be directed by Andreas Homoki on a stage designed by Michael Levine, both of whom will be making their first appearance at the festival.