The inspiration for Mossbrugger’s opera was the mystical, profusely illustrated dream book “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,” printed in 1499. The Renaissance work tells the story of Poliphilo in search of Polia, but is also filled with imaginative descriptions of gardens, landscapes, and architecture. For the audiovisual implementation in Bregenz, visual artist Flaka Haliti designed an all-white sound space. Air and acoustic currents dominate, emanating from 172 organic tubes up to nine meters long, arranged on the islands.
Narrative with many changes in perspective
Mossbrugger explained Thursday that the piece is “a dream within a dream.” It is a story with many changes in perspective, different time levels and overtones. The multilingual soundscape was created by singers Hanna Herfurtner and Hagen Matzeit, three soloists from Klangforum Heidelberg, two narrators and quartet Quatuor Diotima under the sound direction of Thomas Hummel from SWR Experimental Studio, directed by Leonora Shipp.
“The Italian in Algeria” on a luxury yacht
In the opera studio, in which the festival promotes young singers, director Brigitte Fassbander, costume coordinator Dietrich von Griebmer and captain Jonathan Brandani transfer the plot of Rossini’s film “Italian in Algeria” to a luxury yacht. As for the personal relationships described in the opera, it drew inspiration from the relationship between shipowner Onassis and Maria Callas, says Fassbender. She appreciates the vocal level of the young singers, “among them there are great talents, open and uncommon.” This is how Maria Barakova, who sings the role of Isabella, predicted “one foot in a world career,” Fassbender predicted. The 23-year-old Russian mezzo-soprano was grateful. “I’ve heard so many good things about the Bregenz Festival, and it was my dream to be here,” she explained. I prepared for the role for two years.
“Belcanto looks simple on paper, but it’s hard to bring it to life,” says conductor Brandani. Those who are only blind to what Rossini wrote do not understand anything, because his music gives a lot of room for decoration and is very funny. Together with young singers he went on a “journey of discovery”, “and they followed me”. Moving the event closer, which runs without a fairytale-like storyline in Algeria and its associated expectations for the Arab world, Fassbender said, was an intentional distance. For the Komische Oper, which was first shown in 1813, she preferred “modern reading, but quite correct for the piece”.
Rigoletto: The rain has not yet been canceled
Artistic Director Elizabeth Sobotka was very satisfied with the performances of the tenth season “Rigoletto” before the end. “Things are going incredibly well,” Sobotka summed up. So far, no performance of the lake stage has been canceled due to rain, in 2021 more than 120,000 visitors watched Verdi’s opera. She was grateful to be able to play in front of a packed audience. Positive feedback from the audience showed how important the collective theater experience was. Bregenz Festival runs until August 22nd.
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