It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Opera Review : Andre Chenier, Bregenz Floating Stage

On Wednesday night we went along to see Umberto Giordano's "Andre Chenier" on the floating stage in Bregenz, Austria.

Bregenz is about a 90 minute drive from home and we set off early, expecting to arrive about 6.45pm with plenty of time to wander about and have dinner somewhere before the 9.00pm start.  About 7km out of Bregenz we hit the traffic jam of all traffic jams - everyone was flooding into town for the show.  We sat for 90 minutes and only travelled about 5km.

By this time we were getting more than a little ticked off, so I made the executive decision to whiz down a side street in the hope of skipping past it.  Surprisingly it worked!  We arrived within about 2 minutes at the venue and then it was a hunt for a car park.  We got a park at last, and with lots of wiggling and in-and-out work, I wedged the biggest car in Germany into the smallest car park space in Austria.

No time for a walk around and a leisurely dinner, so we had a bite in one of the festival catering areas and headed to our seats, facing the amazing floating stage.  The stage was designed around the painting "The Death of Marat" by Jacques-Louis David in 1793.

The Death of Marat, Jacques-Louis David, 1793

Andre Chenier stage, Bregenz

The opera was sung in Italian with surtitles in German - yay, talk about confusing!  That said, it was absolutely amazing, with so much happening and we got a total visual spectacular.  Here's the details of the show:-

Opera in four acts, sung in Italian.
Music by Umberto Giordano. Libretto by Luigi Illica.

Duration: 2 hours without break
France in the year 1789. The aristocracy revels, the people groan. And between two stools stands the poet André Chénier. Cherished by the rich for his moving verses, in his heart he remains a revolutionary. 
André Chénier, the most famous work by the Italian composer Umberto Giordano, is a brilliantly vivid historical drama and a human tragedy of shattering intensity. Set against the background of the French Revolution, the opera has strong appeal both as a passionate love story and as a historical thriller. André Chénier is based on the life of a real historical character, a French poet who got caught up in the turmoil of the French Revolution, frst as an ardent supporter and then as a victim, mercilessly persecuted and ultimately sent to the guillotine.
Giordano’s music is charged with a furious enthusiasm and stirring emotions. Historical dances and marches from the time before the French Revolution can be heard in the opera as well as classic Revolution­era songs including "Ça ira" and the Marseillaise.
The composer incorporated historical dances and marches from the time before the French Revolution in the operatic score, along with classic revolutionary songs like "Ça ira" and the Marseillaise. Together with rousing arias and thrilling duets they lend a unique flavour to the opera.
"It seems as though  André Chénier was composed especially for the Bregenz Seebühne. The opera presents a perfect mix of ingredients for the venue: a thrilling story and four strong characters, caught between the excesses of the Ancien Régime and the terror of the French Revolution. There is André Chénier, an idealistic poet, and his adversary Carlo Gérard, once a servant and now a revolutionary ringleader. And there is the young noblewoman Maddalena, who is feeing from the rebels, aided by her maidservant, who sacrifces herself as a prostitute in order to support her mistress fnancially. Giordano’s music is verismo of the very highest calibre and drives the high­voltage plot forward with breathtaking speed." Artistic director David Pountney

We were lucky enough to experience Verdi's Aida on the floating stage in Bregenz last year, and it was also totally amazing.  If you ever get the chance to see these "once in a lifetime" shows in Bregenz, please make the effort - you won't be disappointed.

Click here for the website for the Bregenz Festival so you can see what's what.

Aida on the floating stage in Bregenz

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely amazing. I remember you writing about the last fortunate to be able to see another. I would love to get up close to that stage, it looks unbelievable.
    Dressology HQ


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