An unknown jester, a small anniversary and several knights

"Rigoletto" to make lake stage debut,

Verdi opera to open 74th Bregenz Festival

Bregenz, 14.11.18. A double premiere awaits visitors to Bregenz Festival in the coming summer. It's the first time that the festival, now in its 74th season, has mounted a production of Rigoletto on the lake stage. The Giuseppe Verdi opera, featuring the famous aria "La donna è mobile", will also be the curtain-raiser of the popular summer festival at Bregenz on Lake Constance. Including the first night on 17th July, the opera will have 26 performances on the lake stage until the festival closes on 18 August.

Don Quixote, one of the best known figures in world literature, is the subject of the opera at the Festspielhaus. Jules Massenet's Don Quichotte, the "knight of the sad countenance", will premiere on 18th July. The Workshop Theatre will be a venue for exceptional music theatre, with one world premiere and one Austrian premiere. A spoken theatre premiere by Deutsches Theater Berlin will take place at the Kornmarkt-Theater, which will additionally host the Opera Studio for the fifth year in succession.

The festival programme also features four orchestral concerts for lovers of symphonic music (Great Hall of the Festspielhaus), three exquisite literary-musical evenings (Lake Studio) and on one evening there's a chance to hear and see Musicbanda Franui again, an ensemble from Tyrol that is  well known in Vorarlberg.  

More than 80 events are on the programme of the 2019 Bregenz Festival, which runs for four and a half weeks.

Rigoletto stage to start taking shape in January
Some eight months before the festival opens for its 74th season, more than 40 percent of the 185,000 tickets for Rigoletto have been booked (including dress rehearsal and crossculture night). Tickets are still available in all categories for all 26 performances of the opera. The opera premieres the day the festival opens, on 17th July, and runs until the very end of the season, 18th August 2019. Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, a chilling but beautiful masterpiece centring on a court jester of that name, hasn't been staged on the lake at Bregenz ever before. At the current time the substructure of the stage is under construction; the stage itself is expected to start to emerge in recognizable form at the end of January 2019.

Rigoletto will be directed by Philipp Stölzl, who will also jointly design the stage with Heike Vollmer. Stölzl, who studied stage design and was born in Munich in 1967, made a name for himself directing music videos, for the singer Madonna among other acts, and has gone on to make movies such as North Face, Goethe! and The Physician, which have attracted a lot of attention. As an opera director he has worked for the Salzburg Festival, Theater an der Wien, Deutsche Oper and the Staatsoper in Berlin. The opera will be conducted by Enrique Mazzola and Jordan de Souza, and performed by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Mazzola conducted the opera at the Festspielhaus in summer 2017, Moses in Egypt.

A famous knight from world literature at the Festspielhaus
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 18th July 2019 and the opera will receive two further performances. The "knight of the sad countenance", as Don Quixote dubbed himself, has for centuries been one of the most fascinating characters in world literature. On the opera stage, in the hands of the French composer Massenet, he becomes a figure of romantic passion. The libretto by Henri Cain was based on Jacques Le Lorrain's Le Chevalier de la longue figure (1904), itself an adaptation of Spanish author Miguel de Cervante's classic novel from the early 17th century.

The Vienna Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Antonino Fogliani, who was music director of Carmen at the last festival. Stage director Mariame Clément will be making her debut at Bregenz; in recent years she has worked at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival, Opéra national du Rhin, and Theater an der Wien. The set and costumes will be designed by Julya Hansen, also making her Bregenz Festival debut.

Wunderwandelwelt at the Workshop Theatre
As part of the festival finale there will be a world premiere at the Workshop Theatre: a music theatre performance-cum-installation entitled Wunderwandelwelt on two evenings. It is the work of a highly versatile artist from France, François Sarhan, who has contributed music, text and concept and designed the theatre space. The co-production partner is La Muse en Circuit, a centre for electro-acoustic music near Paris, while the cooperation partner is Donaueschinger Musiktage. Bregenz audiences know Sarhan from Home Work, which he gave the world premiere of at the Workshop Theatre in 2011.

A new work of music theatre receives its first performances in Austria on the last two days of July, also at the Workshop Theatre – La Ronde, based on Arthur Schnitzler's play. The piece of music theatre was created in 2012 by composer Bernhard Lang and librettist Michael Sturminger. It will be directed by Alexandra Liedtke and conducted by Walter Kobéra. La Ronde (Der Reigen) is a co-production with Neue Oper Wien.

The same play will be transformed into a concert with drama entitled Arthur Schnitzler: Reigen by the ensemble Musicbanda Franui, performing in the Great Hall of the Festspielhaus. Franui, well known in Bregenz, will accompany a reading of all the roles by the actors Sven-Eric Bechtolf and Regina Fritsch with carousel music from the Prater, bel canto melodies and Bohemian country tunes.

Don Quixote in concert and as a play
Under its chief conductor Philippe Jordan the Vienna Symphony Orchestra will play all four symphonies of Johannes Brahms on two successive days. The Vienna Symphony's concert series will be launched by a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's opulent Requiem, under the baton of its former chief conductor Fabio Luisi. The Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ariane Matiakh, will devote its traditional matinee concert to the figure of Don Quixote, playing music by Maurice Ravel, Jacques Ibert and Richard Strauss.

The knight of the sad countenance reappears at the Kornmarkt-Theater. Two days after the premiere of Massenet's opera at the Festspielhaus, the curtain goes up on a theatre adaptation of Cevantes' classic Don Quixote in a co-production with Deutsches Theater Berlin. The play will be directed by Jan Bosse and star two well known and highly regarded actors, Ulrich Mathes and Wolfram Koch.

A small anniversary: the 5th Bregenz Opera Studio
Five years after it was established, the young singers of the Opera Studio will perform Eugene Onegin, a challenging work that Tchaikovsky composed in 1879 for performance by students of Moscow Conservatoire. The opera will play at the Kornmarkt-Theater, directed by Jan Eßinger, and with Valentin Uryupin conducting the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra. The public masterclass at the beginning of July will be conducted for the first time by Dmitry Vdovin, artistic director of the Bolshoi Theatre Young Artists Programme, which he founded in 2009.

Musik & Poesie
On three evenings, the popular series Musik & Poesie will transform its venue, the Lake Studio, into Luftkunst ("air art"), a Russian salon, and a place for investigating (professional) fools. Nikolaus Habjan will be back as whistling artiste and puppeteer. Mezzo-soprano Aytaj Shikhalizada from the Bregenz Festival Opera Studio will perform little known songs by Peter I. Tchaikovsky. Writer Michael Köhlmeier from the Vorarlberg region will present a gallery of fools and jesters.

Opera Workshop Insight session on 21 November
In spring 2015 the first Insight session of the Opera Workshop gave the audience an insight into the process of creating a new work of music theatre, and in summer 2017 that work received its world premiere. Initiated by the festival’s artistic director Elisabeth Sobotka, the Opera Workshop is now in round two; the composer engaged for it is Alexander Moosbrugger, who comes from Vorarlberg. The second open session (Einblick) will take place on 21 November, organised by Bregenz Festival in conjunction with Kunsthaus Bregenz. The work, which is still without a title, is scheduled to premiere at the festival in summer 2020.

In association with the broadcaster ORF Vorarlberg and the Friends of the Bregenz Festival, three festival breakfasts with special guests will be hosted in the Lake Foyer. Crossculture, the programme of events for kids and young adults, features the traditional crossculture night as well as plenty of activities where they can get creatively involved. For the concert at the KUB, the Opera Workshop composer Alexander Moosbrugger has selected works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Rebecca Saunders and himself.  

The 2019 Bregenz Festival runs from 17 July to 18 August. For tickets and information, please call 0043 5574 4076 or visit