"Today's the day we've all been working towards!"

Bregenz, 14 June 2024. The atmosphere in the lake-view gallery of the Bregenz Festspielhaus, where singers and stunt performers, technicians and musicians, the make-up and costume department plus the entire production team have gathered on this chilly Tuesday morning, is charged with joyous anticipation. There are warm hugs between people who know each other because they have been here before, new faces that are looking round inquisitively, and feverish excitement on all sides. Today is the first day of rehearsals for the opera on the lake stage.

Lukas Aue from Germany – acrobat, mime artist and member of the lake stage stunt team – was part of the crew for Philipp Stölzl’s earlier Bregenz staging of Rigoletto: “An amazing experience! Working with Philipp was great. I’m incredibly happy to be back and to get to know the new stage with all its ingenious elements and perform on it over the next six weeks.”

One of the three sopranos who will be performing the role of Ännchen in Der Freischütz is Katharina Ruckgaber from Munich. This is her first time in Bregenz: “At last the rehearsals are beginning – the stage set looks stunning!” She is a little nervous, she admits: “The lake stage is a very special place: open air, enormous stage, so many different people. At the moment, real excitement ahead of the rehearsals absolutely outweighs [all other feelings], but ask me again in four weeks’ time!”, says Ruckgaber with a laugh. If there’s any spare time between rehearsals, she says she will “definitely take a trip to the Bregenz Forest – I’ve been there before in winter once, but never in summer”.

Frauke Gose from Berlin, head of the make-up department, has been coming to Bregenz for 30 years. The highlight of every summer for her and her team is the premiere: “When the productions, which we’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into, open before a live audience for the first time – that’s always the best part!”

Lighting designer Florian Schmitt has designed the lighting for Der Freischütz together with Philipp Stölzl. For him, the start of the rehearsals marks the end of an intensive preparation period: “The stage design is great. Getting to that point – what lighting can you do where and how? – was really exciting.” Florian Schmitt already knows the lake stage, too: “I did Rigoletto with Philipp as well, that was mega cool.” Will he be able to enjoy the Bregenz area at all? “Lake Constance and the mountains are wonderful. All we need now is a bit of sunshine,” says Schmitt. “The only disadvantage for us lighting designers? That we mainly work at night! I often have to make sure that I get some sleep during the day.”

The stage director, Philipp Stölzl, has also been through an intense preparation period. “I’ve been coming to Bregenz repeatedly for eight years. First for Rigoletto and now for Der Freischütz,” he says, adding with a broad smile: “Today’s the day we’ve been working towards. This Freischütz has been a long time in the making. It has been a long journey from the first idea about four years ago to today, when everybody has come together to work on the production. For me, that’s very moving.”

You can see more photos of the start of rehearsals for Der Freischütz here

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14.06.2024

Konzeptpräsentation "Der Freischütz", Philipp Stölzl (Inszenierung)

© Bregenzer Festspiele / Lisa Mathis
14.06.2024

Konzeptpräsentation "Der Freischütz", Katharina Ruckgaber (Ännchen)

© Bregenzer Festspiele / Lisa Mathis
14.06.2024

Konzeptpräsentation "Der Freischütz", Florian Schmitt (Licht)

© Bregenzer Festspiele / Lisa Mathis
14.06.2024

Konzeptpräsentation "Der Freischütz", Lukas Aue (Stunt)

© Bregenzer Festspiele / Lisa Mathis
14.06.2024

Konzeptpräsentation "Der Freischütz"

© Bregenzer Festspiele / Lisa Mathis