Opera festival in Bregenz, Austria, boasts feet on a floating stage
My husband and I had pedaled through Bregenz, Austria, several times while cycling the Lake Constance bike routes that follow the shores of Europe’s third-largest lake through Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Each time we sailed right by its famous “floating” stage in the lake and its other sights. We had miles to go and no time to linger and enjoy the town.
But on our last visit, we traveled by car. We took time to stroll along the lake, to wander through Bregenz’s pleasant pedestrian zone, to tour a huge ship anchored in the harbor, to ride a cable car to the top of a mountain — and to get a closer look at that stage.
The stage is the centerpiece of the Bregenzer Festspiele — a monthlong opera festival held every summer. During our visit, huge cranes towered over the stage and a pair of giant feet (shoe size 2,400) that will be featured in the Giuseppe Verdi opera “Aida.” It was presented here last summer and will be repeated from July 22 to Aug. 22.
The big feet are part of the set design for “Aida,” a reference to a broken statue found in “an antique land” in the sonnet by English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and a symbol of either tolerance or liberty. The cranes will lift the performers in aerial ballets, including the dead lovers in the final scene — all part of the spectacular production.
The festival also will include performances of the opera “The Passenger” by Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg at Bregenz’s Festival Opera House, concerts by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra and some shorter pieces.
Even without musical performances, Bregenz is an enjoyable place. During our May visit, the promenade along the lake was crowded with people out for a stroll. Sightseeing boats offered excursions on the lake. Pedal boats and motor boats were available for rent.
We left the lakeshore for a ride on the Pfänderbahn, a cable car from the city that glides to the mountain top at 3,500 feet. We enjoyed splendid views of the lake and surrounding peaks from the terrace of the mountain restaurant where we had lunch. We took a walk through an alpine wildlife park on the mountain. Crowds were gathering for a show with birds of prey, but we passed on that and rode back down to town where we visited a far-out art exhibit in Bregenz’s Kunsthaus, a noted museum for contemporary art.
Then we wandered up into the older part of town, past Deuring Castle (now a hotel) and into a pretty residential area. We savored dinner in the garden of the Kornmesser restaurant where I went for Zander pike-perch from the lake, and husband Bob chose his favorite Austrian specialty, Tafelspitz, boiled beef with horseradish.
We’d be happy to return to Bregenz, but next time we’ll be sure to go during the opera festival and take in one of those monumental productions.