If you are an opera lover it is not to miss experience! The magnificent, huge decoration, perfect voices, perfect acoustic, perfect views! We travelled from Warsaw especially to see this and we were overwhelmed by its perfection!
We took flight to Zurich, as there is an easy connection with train from Zurich Flughafe to Bregenz, lasting ca 1.40 minutes, so it is very easy to get there. Trains are going frequently, even if you have to change it is quick and convenient. Bregenz itself is rather a dull city, we would not choose this place to stay, but the shore of lake Constanz is beautiful and picturesque , with a lot of attractions like a nice beach area.
The floating stage is a first thing you see while walking on the shore and it is beyond any expectation. This year it is a huge head of Marat, like a head of bathing giant, floating on the sea. It is advisable to plan a trip to have enough time to do a trip around the decoration (you can book it at the ticket office on coming or pre-book it on festivals webpage), so you can understand better the performance. There is no much difference in the seats, all seats have good view. We have chosen 1st class tickets, but they do have also priority tickets(?) with some benefits, like parking included, a welcome drink and binoculars provided (I did not use binoculars, as the decoration plays the main role and you can easily see everything). There are also loges - which are much more expensive, much more elegant and covered with a roof (which may be important during a bad weather) (James Bond was in shot in loges area). Dress code do not exist, so you are free to wear whatever you want (and Bregenz is NOT a chick place). It is important to bring a shawl or a warm clothes as evenings are cold with a breeze from the lake. We were lucky with a weather, but it is better to bring a raincoat. In the loges dress code is definitely black tie, but at the open air it is casual. I usually like to have comfort and glamour in places like that, but I enjoyed sitting in the open air with a sky above me, so if the weather is good there is no point in taking loge (they are far from the stage and the view is worse).
Performance itself.. is hard to describe, it is absolutely excellent, perfect, breathtaking! The giant decoration at the sunset, actors, acrobats, great voices - it was the best opera experience ever, and we do go a lot to opera, so we can compare.
Andre Chenier is not on the top list of opera hits, but the music was marvelous!
There is no English translation though, so it is better to read libretto in English before you go, otherwise it is hard to follow.
Seems that Bregenz is not yet prepared for English speaking tourists, as all the programs and festival publications are only in German.
It is better to come earlier to see the sunset. Alternatively, you can have a drink at the Sunset Bar with a view to the stage.
Also, remember that even if opera has 4 acts they do not make breaks. Performance lasts ca 2 hours.
As far as hotels are concerned - do not choose Helvetia, read my review if you want to know why. Closest to the festival is Mercury and next time we will stay there. Next year they perform "Magic flute" and I definitely want to come. Mercury is just next to the floating stage and it is elegant. It is no point in saving money on the accommodation, as this may spoil your evening (as it was in our case).
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