Colossal head under construction
Bregenz, 18.1.19. While the stage set for Rigoletto is slowly taking shape on the "building site" in Lake Constance, at other places away from the festival grounds technicians are hard at work too, constructing various parts of the set. When finished, the parts will be transported to the lake stage one by one and pieced together there like a big artistic mosaic.
A few kilometres from Bregenz in the small town of Hard (Vorarlberg), a rented steel construction hall is one site where parts of the set – nearly 14 metres high – are being built for the Giuseppe Verdi opera, which is being mounted on the lake stage for the first time.
A very heavy head
There, since October Frank Schulze has been modelling a gigantic head out of facade plaster, polystyrene and paint. Its face resembles a clown. The scenery builder is also at work on a pair of hands almost 12 metres high. All the pieces have core constructions of steel and wood. The head alone weighs 35 tonnes and as many as 12 firms are involved in building it. Together with the support structure and the stabilisation on the lake stage the head will weigh 140 tonnes.
To the lake stage by water
At the end of January, transport specialists will load the right hand onto a truck that will take it to the Festspielhaus. From there it will travel by boat to the lake stage. The left hand will follow one week later. The gigantic head will first be dismantled into four parts and taken to the shore at Fussach, before continuing its journey to the lake stage by barge.
Central parts, but not the only ones
The three colossal body parts are important elements of the new stage set, but not the only ones. The Rigoletto set consists of other parts, too, which are expected to be added to the lake stage in the coming weeks. The promotional image for the festival's Rigoletto – a collage of circus tent, bunting, clown's face, ruff, and other items – might just provide an imaginative clue as to what the set will look like.
Hydraulic tubes in the left hand
When the 2019 festival programme was presented last November, the director and stage designer Philipp Stölzl briefly talked about the production and dropped the hint that his conception "envisaged the use of kinetics". Precisely what movements the set will be capable of performing will probably not be known until April. What can already be seen, however, is a bunch of hydraulic tubes in the left hand that lead up to the fingers.
Rigoletto debuts on the lake stage
The Giuseppe Verdi opera, featuring the famous aria "La donna è mobile", will be staged for the first time at Bregenz Festival in the summer of 2019 and 2020. Currently about half of the 185,000 tickets to the 26 performances of Rigoletto have been booked (including dress rehearsal and crossculture night). Tickets are still available on all dates and in all categories. The opera premieres on the lake stage on the day the festival opens, 17 July. The final performance is on the closing day of the festival, 18 August 2019.
The director and stage designer for Rigoletto will be Philipp Stölzl. Born in Munich in 1967, Stölzl made a name for himself as a director of music videos for acts including the singer Madonna, before moving into film making. His movies North Face, Goethe! and The Physician attracted a lot of attention. Stölzl, who studied stage design, also directs opera and has worked at the Salzburg Festival, Theater an der Wien, and at Deutsche Oper and the Staatsoper in Berlin.
The 2019 Bregenz Festival runs from 17 July to 18 August. For tickets and information, visit our website www.bregenzerfestspiele.com or call 0043 5574 4076.