Floating above the water on Austria’s Lake Constance is one of the most impressive opera sets ever designed. The Bregenz Festival has been creating these sets since 1946 for its trademark Opera on the Lake production, which has a 6,800 seating capacity.
The magnificent set featured here is from Andr Chnier, the most famous work by the Italian composer Umberto Giordano. Set against the background of the French Revolution in 1789, the opera is a passionate love story and historical thriller based on the life of a real historical character – a French poet who got caught up in the turmoil of the French Revolution, first as an ardent supporter and then as a victim, mercilessly persecuted and ultimately sent to the guillotine.
The opera stages are built on a fixed “concrete core” that is anchored in the lake. The floating stage must be two-thirds larger than normal so it doesn’t get swallowed up by its natural surroundings. Wooden piles are driven into the bed of the lake to support any additional structures the stage set may require, and everything must be waterproof to withstand the extreme weather during the two-year production runs.