Bregenz Festival ahead of the 2022 finals

Sobotka emphasized the importance of opera productions on the floating stage as the “engine and heart” of the Bregenz Festival, only because of the great success of the floating stage performances could one “invest in the entire area of ​​music theatre”. But that pays off incredibly well, says Sobotka. It is precisely the entirety of the productions that make the festival what it is. If there were only the floating stage, the festival would only be “half as exciting, half as funny, half as interesting,” said the director. She emphasized in particular that young artists get a chance in the opera studio and in the orchestra academy. Seen in this way, the festival ended its season “with a look into the future”.

The final concert of the first orchestra academy of the Bregenz Festival on Sunday (August 14, Festspielhaus) heralds the start of the last festival week of this summer. 85 musicians between the ages of 17 and 27, who rehearsed together for a week, will perform a world premiere by Herbert Willi as well as pieces by Joseph Haydn and Dmitri Shostakovich. Conductor Daniel Cohen was enthusiastic about an insight into the orchestra rehearsal. He spoke of a development process that only consists of forward steps. He predicted a successful future for the musicians, who mainly come from German-speaking countries and who had to apply via video.

Joseph Haydn’s opera “Armida” will have its premiere as part of the opera studio on August 15 at the Theater am Kornmarkt. Director Sobotka launched the opera studio seven years ago to offer young performers an opportunity. After Gioacchino Rossini’s comic opera “The Italian Woman in Algiers”, “Armida” is the second opera studio production to be shown this year. The “Italian” planned for 2021 had to be canceled at short notice last year due to a corona case. Director Jörg Lichtstein admitted that the production team took liberties with the work about the sorceress Armida. It is an “amazing mixture of fantasy opera, historical drama and love carnage,” says Lichtstein. The focus is on the difficulty of living in a partnership. “Even Armida is unable to conjure up her private life,” the director stated. Although it was written in 1783, “Armida” is a “modern opera”, praised Jonathan Brandani as musical director.

The last premiere of the 76th Bregenz Festival (August 18) brings a world premiere to the workshop stage. Composer Brigitta Muntendorf and dramaturge Moritz Lobeck trace the melancholy in “Melencolia”. Albrecht Dürer’s picture “Melencolia I” (1514) served as the starting point. In the work commissioned by the Bregenz Festival and the Ensemble Modern, the digital world interacts with the real. The stage design is dominated by three large projection screens, there are pre-produced films, others are created live during the performance. 60 speakers create a 3D world of sound. “It’s contemporary musical theatre,” said Sobotka. “Melencolia” allows a broad view of everything “the world has to offer at the moment”.

The artistic director was very satisfied with the way the festival has gone so far. “We have very, very successful productions behind us,” she cited as examples of the operas “Siberia” or “Captain Nemo’s Library”. She experienced the audience response for “Madame Butterfly” on the lake stage as “exciting”, Sobotka confessed. After all, the staging is less about spectacle and more about aesthetics and the strength of the music. Sobotka goes into the final phase of the festival with a “very good feeling”. After the festival is over, she will be relieved, and at the same time it is difficult to accept “that the magic kingdom will then disappear,” she said.

(SERVICE – 76th Bregenz Festival 2022 from July 20 to August 21, play on the lake: “Madame Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini; further information, entire program and tickets at )

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