When the sun begins to hide under the waters of Lake Constance, the formidable Bregenz Festival show raises the imaginary curtain on the world largest floating stage. From that moment, the 7,000 spectators gathered in the auditorium will dive into an overwhelming visual and audio feast outdoors in opera format.
Throughout its long history, the Austrian festival has built some of the most amazing designs ever seen on stage. An artistic and logistical effort to create a new project every two years, set in the beautiful landscape around.
Update for Bregenz 2015/16: The pictures of the new stage premiered this season have been published (images at the end). This is the perfect time to review the previous productions of the most famous opera on the lake:
2011/2012: André Chénier (Umberto Giordano), was inspired by the famous painting of the French revolutionary Marat. Image by Bregenzer Festspiele / Karl Forster
Acrobatic dancers executed a surreal aerial ballet at the top of the giant sculpture.
Performed by the company of Circus & Flying school Airealistic
Twilight on the shores of the lake. An extraordinary setting that no theater can match.
Image by Bregenzer Festspiele / Achim Mende
2009/2010: Aida (Giuseppe Verdi)is a grand opera, traditionally set in Egypt. In Bregenz the action was moved at the foot of a Statue of Liberty torn to pieces. The giant parts of the mask were put together whilst the performance was going on.
Image by Bregenzer Festspiele / Karl Forster
Aida had a flooring slightly below the level of the water in which the actors splashed around.
Image by Andereart
2007/2008: Tosca (Giacomo Puccini). The colossal iris transformed in a mechanical mobile platform, becoming a new circular stage. Image by Bregenzer Festspiele / Andereart
To add a little more glamor, during some of the performances of the summer of 2008 were filmed scenes of the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace, with Daniel Craig walking among the public. Image by Stephan Mantler
2005/2006: Il trovatore (Giuseppe Verdi). From the original story of a rebellion in the Aragon Court, the action was moved to a modern industrial plant with its fearsome chimneys spitting fire. Image by Bregenzer Festspiele / Andereart
Keep in mind that the stages should be able to survive the extreme weather conditions of the environment during two years. They also have to be light, easy and quick to move when changing acts, which gives us an idea of the complexity of its design. Image by Achim Mende
2003/2004: West Side Story changed the opera to put in scene the troubled street gangs of Leonard Bernstein's classic musical. Image by Benno Hagleitner/VISION fotografie
2001/2002: La Bohème (Giacomo Puccini), updated the absinthe with Ricard pastis in the Latin Quarter of Paris.
Image by Karl Forster
Bregenz Festival productions usually tries to give a twist to the traditional opera repertoire, staging original and even extravagant plays. Image by Bregenzer Festspiele/Karl Forster
1999/2000: Un ballo in maschera (Giuseppe Verdi). The image of the grim skeleton watching the tiny figures moving on a book-stage, is definitely one of the most memorable icons of all time from the festival. Image by Benno Hagleitner
1997/1998: Porgy & Bess (George Gershwin) reproduced an apocalyptic scenography Mad Max style. Originally the opera was set in the Afro-American population of the United States. From this play comes the song Summertime popularized by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, among others. Image by Karl Forster
1995/96: Fidelio modernized the sole opera composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in a setting that turned the streets of lower class households in overcrowded prison cells. Image by Karl Forster
1991/1992: Carmen (Georges Bizet). Occult on stage, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra plays the music that touches the spectators through a sophisticated audio system hidden in the amphitheater. Also, when interpreters are walking, their voices move with them too. Image by Karl Forster
Back to 2013/2014: This is how awesome looked the new stage for Mozart's Magic Flute.
Image by Bregenzer Festspiele / Anja Köhler
Die Zauberflöte had dragons connected by catwalks and an underwater railway to carry some set elements, like this giant crystal turtle. Image by Bregenzer Festspiele / Anja Köhler
Bregenz 2015/2016 is performing the classic play of Giacomo Puccini set in Beijing, Turandot.
Image Bregenzer Festspiele / Karl Forster
The exotic character of the story is highlighted by a stage inspired by the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army.
Image Bregenzer Festspiele / Karl Forster
Lake Constance is known as the soul of Europe. On its shores are borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A lighthouse and the Bavarian lion flank the entrance to the port of the German town of Lindau, right in front of Bregenz.
Image by LenDog64
Finally, a timelapse of the stage building and scenes of the latest editions of this festival that has never ceased to amaze its visitors.