Constructing a big piece of the "Carmen" set
Bregenz, 3.2.17. While the stage set for Carmen is slowly taking shape on the "building site" in Lake Constance, technicians are also busy in various workshops on shore at different locations. They are building parts of the set which when ready will be delivered to the Festspielhaus and pieced together like an immense mosaic.
One such scenery-building workshop is just a few hundred metres west of the Festspielhaus by the football stadium. There stands a 17 metre high tent in which a stage object of similar height is being carefully made by hand.
A colossal female hand
The object is a larger-than-life female hand which is being modelled out of polystyrene, facade plaster, paint and coating by Frank Schulze, who himself is very much a dab hand at scenery building with 22 years' experience. The colossal right hand is part of a pair that, come summer, will form a major element in the stage set for Carmen. The opera by Georges Bizet about a fatal passion and spectacular bullfighting will be performed on the lake stage at Bregenz Festival in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Superhuman body part
Schultze, a sculptor from Berlin, has been working on the giant body part since January, moulding the material that covers the sturdy steel construction underneath – rather like skin and flesh cover the bones of the human hand. This hand, however, is superhuman in its dimensions and weight. Together with the forearm it will tower about 17 metres high out of the water and weigh nearly 20 tonnes. That's not including the 15 tonnes of ballast to stabilise the sculpture on the stage.
At the beginning of next week the hand will be transported in segments to the lake stage. But that is not the end of the job in the workshop tent. Frank Schulze will then set to work again modelling the left hand and forearm over four weeks. The pair of hands will be assembled on the stage in March.
When the 2017 programme was presented at the end of last year, stage director Kasper Holten disclosed a few details about the staging: "In one scene in the opera, Carmen wants to see the future by having her cards read. That fateful occurrence will be reflected in the stage set."
Bizet on the lake, Rossini in the Festspielhaus
One of the best-loved operas around the world will open the 72nd season of Bregenz Festival on 19 July 2017: Georges Bizet's Carmen. The opera will play for a total of 28 evenings on the Bregenz lake stage. The following day at the Festspielhaus the curtain goes up on Gioachino Rossini's opera Moses in Egypt. Coming up towards the end of the festival are the Opera Studio production at the Kornmarkttheater and the world premiere of an opera commissioned by the festival at the Workshop Theatre, both starting in mid August.
In between are symphonic and poetic concerts at the Festspielhaus and the Lake Studio. Exotic opera can be experienced and marvelled at in totally different dimensions at the Workshop Theatre. Guest performances by Berlin's Maxim Gorki Theater puts spoken theatre back on the playbill of the summer festival.
Masterclass this Sunday
The 80 events of the 2017 season also include a masterclass (on the coming Sunday), more concerts and the young people's programme crossculture. In all, around 214,000 tickets are available for the festival, which runs until 20 August.
The 2017 Bregenz Festival runs from 19 July to 20 August. For tickets and information, visit www.bregenzerfestspiele.com or call tel. 0043 5574 4076.